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How To Use Logic To Win Arguments

two white men on white long sleeves and a tie arguing
Not virtually all of us like to argue because most people see argument as a waste of time. But you cannot escape a week let's say a month or two without an argument with someone. Everyone likes to win an argument, there is always that great feeling when the person you are arguing with gives up and say "Ok, you're right, I agree with you. What i'm trying to say is that
you must get yourself into one form of argument or another at some point of your daily activities.


Think of logic as a systematic argument. You don't just wake up and start chasing any mentally unstable person on the street, that will make people to look at you as mentally unstable, right? Well that is exactly what happens when you argue with someone who you are more literally inclined than instead of using the almighty logic. In this article, I am going to tell you what logic is, its various forms and how it can be used. They will definitely help you to figure out which one works better in any argument you find yourself in any day.



The reason why a great failure has been recorded both in the teaching and learning of logic is because of the veil of mystification with which the handlers of the discipline have clothed it. Students think that logic is unlearnable and teachers glory is the success of their mesmerism. Logic is abstract and difficult, they will tell you. But nothing can be so far from the truth than this position.



My purpose of writing this post is to bring logic down to the level of existentiality, so do not get it twisted. I mean making logic a science of companionship. Logic is not more than the art and science of common sense applied to everyday life. I want therefore to en kindle the students interest in the study of logic. Obviously, benefits accrue to the only means to worthy living, human living. This is in as much as every man employs thinking and reasoning at various level of "participation, discussion, and decision about life".



Man in his life is confronted with many problems, which exert a lot of pressure on his thought. The problems which man thinks or reasons about can be spiritual, socio-political, moral, cultural, juridical, commercial etc. These aspects of life provide man with "objects" of thought i.e, things to be reasoned about. Again in his human inter subjectivity, he engages in certain arguments or discussions about these "objects".



In thinking about these issues of life, man can think correctly or his thinking can fall into error. "This occurs when the object of our thought does not correspond to the object in reality", Man therefore is thinking correctly if he is to avoid degeneration into error regarding the objects of his thought. Thinking is therefore a natural attribute of man. Logic is the science of guide for human thinking.



WHAT IS LOGIC?

The definition of logic I must say is diverse. The great philosopher Aristotle in the opening page of his first book on "metaphysics" said that "All men by nature desire knowledge". This material quest for knowledge is an attempt at the attainment of the truth about reality by means of his rational powers, Isaac Watts on his own said that "truth lies in the wall" and "logic supplies us with the steps whereby we may go down to reach the waters of truth", says Edekobi. Joseph Joubert, making reference to logic said that it is the "art of convincing us of some truth". Also according to to Sexus Empricus," ...we affirm that if truth is to be sought in every division of philosophy we must before all else, posses truth worthy of principles and methods for the discernment of truth".



Logic in its formal object, supplies the answers tot he above quotation. It is the science which embodies the principles and rules which must be followed if we must attain truth and avoid error in our thinking. Every science aspires towards some truth. To this extent they employ logic, since they employ thinking or reasoning. But since logic deals with the nature of correct thinking or reasoning a word must be said concerning the type of thinking or reasoning proper to logic.



This is to say that logic does not deal with every type of thinking. For instance, logic is not psychology. Psychology deals with what actually happens when we think, i.e, description of what is. It deals with, types of thinking such as learning, remembering etc. but logic studies the laws of thought to the extent that they enter into and explain what the process of reasoning ought to be if we are to reach conclusions free from errors.



We must be able to distinguish between what Edward Simmons (1962) has called "natural" logic from "scientific" logic. Natural logic refers to the native ability of all men to reason. Experience has shown that this type of reasoning is over colored with Baconian "idols" or unfounded options normally rooted in customs. Scientific logic strengthens our native ability by perfecting "mans intellect, enabling him to proceed easily and without error in our reasoning". The distinct between these to realms of logic is that of the later level, one "knows certainly and is able to explain the precise reason why" certain conclusions are accepted and others rejected.



With the above characteristics of logic in mind, Aquinas (1225-1274AD), defined logic as "the art which directs the very act of reason. The art through which a man may proceed with order, ease, and correctness in the act of reason itself". Okafor F.U (1990) also has defined logic as the "study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct or good from incorrect or bad reasoning". Logic as these definitions suggest becomes a complete body of acquired technique, principle or rules which must guide our daily reasoning process, if we must reason correctly. There is therefore a manner of thinking and reasoning that distinguished logical reasoning from other types of reasoning or thinking.



Logic reasoning is a special kind of thinking in which the conclusion are drawn from the premises. The question the logician always ask is "Do the premises provide enough grounds or reasons for accepting the conclusion?" or does the conclusion follow logically from the premises. If the premises provide enough reasons for accepting the conclusion, then the conclusion is correct or invalid, otherwise it is incorrect or invalid.


The fundamentals of this basic techniques for correct reasoning are what I intend to introduce to you.




VALUES OF LOGIC

A lot of values both intellectual and practical are derived from logic if we consistently apply the laws and principles of logical thinking. Such values are rooted in the nature of logical inquiry as the search for the truth in our thinking procedure. A. F. Uduigwomen (1988) and F.U. Okafor (1990) have outlined such values in their works. HOW TO THINK and LOGIC: AN outline for Beginners.


An outline of the values of logic include the following:


  • AVOIDANCE OF ERROR
Reasoning or argument understood as the process by which we pass from evidence to conclusion is a daily activity of human beings living in the society. Often we draw conclusion by means of evidence or premises that are totally underrated to the conclusion. This is due to error in reasoning. Logic helps us to avoid such errors. It give us the principles to be followed.



  • EASY IDENTIFICATION OF COMMON FLAWS IN ARGUMENT
Many arguments can be easily evaluated as to their validity. Without considerable exercise in logic, one is likely to pass wrong judgments even in simple form of argument. For instance, without a knowledge of logic one can easily access the following argument as correct "whereas it is only club members that can participate in the dinner, and John is a club member, hence John can participate in the dinner".



  • MECHANICAL EVALUATION OF LENGTHY ARGUMENTS
Some arguments do have many complex propositions as evidence. These types of argument pose a lot of problem to the human mind. Some forms of these arguments occur in newspapers, books, periodical, speeches rather than as they are presented in the constructive models of a logic text. We can successfully assess them by applying the errors and principles of logical analysis.



  • AVOIDANCE OF FALLACY
Knowledge of logical principles enable us to avoid fallacies in argument. Any violation of any logical principle amounts to a fallacy. Sometimes, these fallacies are perfectly concealed.

  • Knowledge of the principles of logical thinking assures a greater efficiency in our professions.

  • It enables us to speak and write clarity, precision and tenacity and hence helps us to overcome vagueness, ambiguity, feebleness, tautology, and wholeness and expression. Logic educates one for active and responsible participation in democratic government.

It strengthens your confidence and enables you to make satisfactory social adjustments. Logic increases your imaginative ability and proficiency in reasoning, so you can be a sound policy maker and programme executor.



Where hidden persuades try to influence our choices, habits, decision and actions, through flowery rhetoric, subtle and beguiling advertisements, flattery and threat, a training on to think will undoubtedly provide us with defenses against all unwanted external influences.




LAWS OF THOUGHT

I have earlier defined logic as the science of art of the knowledge and application of the principles and laws of thought. These laws of thought are necessary and sufficient both for the "Being" of man and his "thought". Okafor (1990) described these laws as the most fundamental laws which apply to the whole realm of being, to the real order in its full extent. They also apply to the conceptual order or thought-order and on thought-order, which depends on the validity of every judgement, whatever it may be, they exist as the bases and foundation for assessment of every human thought and action.



Aristotle is said to have enumerated the laws of thought. They are "those first principles or axioms which underlie all human thinking process and discourses". This means that every other law must derive its validity from these fundamental laws. They are called first principles because if they are not rue, no other truth can be formulated or even thought of. They are axioms because they are self evident truths requiring no further explanation. These principles and laws are presupposed whenever one thinks about anything whatever and held to be both the necessary and sufficient conditions for correct thinking.



These laws of thought include:

  • The law of principle of contradiction

  • The law of principle of identity

  • The law or principle of excluded middle



THE PRINCIPLE OF CONTRADICTION

This principle states that no statement can be both true and false at the same time. According to I.M Copi, the law of contradiction asserts that no statement can both be true and false. Stuart Mill puts it this way that; "The affirmation of an assertion and the denial of its contradictory or logical equivalents".



Aristotle enunciated the principle in this way "the same attribute cannot at one and the same time both belong and not belong to the same thing", (Aristotle metaphysics). The principle could be expressed in a core metaphysical sense like this "It is impossible for the same thing to be and not be the same time". So the principle can be expressed in the law of thought and metaphysics.


Examples

  • John has failed logic test now, and John has passed the logic test now
  • God is eternal and God is finite
  • A chair is not a chair

All these statements are self contradictory and therefore false.




THE PRINCIPLE OF IDENTITY

This principle states that "Everything is what it is". John Locke enunciated the principle thus, "what is, Is". Leibniz expressed it as "Everything is what it is". These are philosophical enunciation's of the principle.



Prepositionally, Staurt Mill enunciates the law as "Whatever is true is one form of words, is true in every other forms of words which convey the same meaning".


Examples

  • A = A
  • P = P
  • 500 = 500

The law when applied to propositions means that if a proposition is true, it is true, i.e, that all terms must have the same meaning for all speakers and listeners at all times.



THE PRINCIPLE OF EXCLUDED MIDDLE

This principle states that any "Statement is either true or false" OR "A thing is either or is not". Between being and not being, there is no mediation. This is what Aristotle mean when he said: "Of two contradictory judgments, one must be true and the other false" OR "Between the two members of contradiction, there is no middle between them"


Example


  • There is no mediation between the two statements here and now.
  • John is dead and John is alive
  • A chair is a chair and a chair is not a chair
Of the two statements, one must be true and the other false.



LOGIC: A SCIENCE AND AN ART

In the definition of logic that I gave above, I interchangeably referred to it both as science and as an art. What does it mean for a discipline to be a Science and what does it also mean for a discipline to be an art? As you shall see, logic combines these characters.



LOGIC AS A SCIENCE

To repeat, what also it mean for a body of knowledge to be a Science? Science ordinarily means knowledge. It is rooted in the Latin noun "Scientia" "Knowledge" or its verb "Scienceu" "to know". But scientific knowledge must be differentiated from common knowledge like customers or habits. Scientific knowledge means "Knowledge of facts or truth together with their explanation, their justification, their how's and why's, their cause and reason".



The arrangement and presentation of these data in orderly, systematic and complete manner, which justifies each point in its orderly development by assigning cause or reason is called Science. This is why Aristotle said that we know a thing when we know its cause. Then the system and coherent presentation of this cause to reason, in a way that makes our conclusion tenable in regarded as scientific knowledge.



Considered as a Science, logic is the body of knowledge which results from the study, in a systematic way the operations of the intellect as it pursues truth. Science combines in itself, the truth of the "object" and the correctness of its "presentation" in the intellect. This presentation involves a method, a system and a procedure which is logic.




LOGIC AS AN ART

Logic is also an art. Art in this sense means artifice, dexterity, proficiency and ability to perfect in a thing. Art concerns "doing", "making" a thing. Giving the thing a form, order, shape. But this kind of order is the type imposed by reason. Logic is an art that enables one to organize and put into order, the various principles or activities of thinking. Suffice it here to know that the art of logic is a conscious effort at the systematization of the laws of thought.




NATURE AND DIVISIONS OF LOGIC

My definition of logic has brought out to you the nature of logic inquiry. Every science employs the methodic inquiry in its peculiar way. This means that every scientific knowledge gives account of its data and demonstrates it's conclusions. Philosophy and the positive sciences adopt different methods of demonstrations. This means a "proper application of the principles of a given science to the data that is called upon to explain".



Apart from the issue of procedure or method, my definition of logic rise to the content or object of thought which is demonstrated by and through reason. Logic think about things. In this way, it makes "reasons a conceptual representation of the real order". It tries to understand things as they really are.



IN CONCLUSION


The two major concern of logic have given rise to two main divisions of logic, namely:

  • Formal logic
  • Material logic


FORMAL LOGIC

Formal logic studies the forms of the various procedural approaches or investigations employed by various sciences in making intelligible their "object" of study. Form means the structure, shape, order of the demonstration of the data of investigation of the conclusion. It is a consideration about the method, principles, the laws which must be adhered to if we are to arrive at the truth of what is reasoned about.



Philosophy and natural science employ different methods of investigation in relation to their objects. Natural science makes use of the "inductive" method of inferences, philosophy employs the method of deductive thinking.




MATERIAL LOGIC

This second part of logic discuss "natures known precisely in virtue of their intelligible content". These logic tries to determine not only the validity or correctness of our thinking process, but also, force of our thinking in reference to the truth and necessity of its conclusions.



Here logic deals with metaphysical and ontological issues, i.e. Trying to establish a rapport between our reasoning and things as they are. The truth of our reasoning. The intellect when it is true, based itself on the way things are in the world outside the mind. So a statement is true or a judgment is true when its conclusion corresponds to the real nature of things about.



In modern logic, we are not much concerned with the inner truth of our objects of thought, but on the form, the sequence of their apprehension by the intellect. As we said before, this area of investigation pertains to metaphysics. Take for instance, the subsequence of the apprehension every oyster is a vertebrate. Every clan is an oyster.



Therefore, every clan is a vertebrate. Formally, i.e. by consideration of formal logic the argument is valid but materials, i.e, with regard to the content of the argument, the judgment is false. Some philosophers like Kant uphold that things in themselves are unknowable, we can therefore only emphasize the validity of our reasoning process. That is to say, we have enough evidence or proof to validate our claims and not of the contents of our thought are necessarily true. We can only presume them to be true.



An argument as a discourse in which a set of one or more statements or prepositions called premises are presented as evidence for another statement or preposition called the conclusion can always be countered by LOGIC.





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