View Poll Results: Do humans have an inherent capacity to decide that a conclusion follows necessarily from premises?

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Do humans have an inherent capacity to decide that a conclusion follows necessarily from premises?

    This is the first of a series of polls concerning logic. The overall idea is to determined whether we share a common notion of the logic of valid reasoning as done by humans.
    I think that Aristotle's syllogistic can be seen as essentially a simple and rather short catalogue of the kind of arguments philosophers at the time were using and that, therefore, presumably, they saw as valid.
    I want to understand whether Aristotle's notion that there is such a thing as a valid argument, and therefore a logic of valid arguments, is still shared by most people today as it seems to have been shared by most logicians at least until the 19th century, so broadly for 2,400 years.
    This view isn't a foregone conclusion. The practice of Mathematical logic today suggests on the contrary that logic is arbitrary. Mathematical logic itself is a branch of mathematics, not a method or a theory of logic. As a branch of mathematics, it brings together a very large number of theories and methods (calculus) which are all different from each other and in effect mutually contradictory.
    This in turns falsifies the idea that mathematicians all talk about the same thing when they use the word "logic", and this makes it impossible to decide whether anyone of these theories or methods is really about the logic of valid arguments as used by humans and as first described by Aristotle.
    It is even unclear at the moment whether any mathematical logic is meant to describe the logic of valid arguments. Given the hegemony of the paradigm used in mathematical logic among logicians today, not only among mathematicians but also among analytic philosophers and computer scientists, Aristotle's idea that there is a logic of valid arguments seems to have lost the appeal it enjoyed for 2,400 years.
    My poll should be approached using what the law call "your intimate conviction". This, to be effective, requires that you take the time to reflect on the question asked.

    The question is this:

    Do humans have an inherent capacity to decide that a conclusion follows necessarily from premises?

    (Inherent capacity: not dependent on formal or informa learning)

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Absolutely. People who have never so much heard of a Western university routinely craft logical arguments. That doesn't make your conclusions necessarily correct, but the ability to construct an argument from given premises is instinctive and universal.

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Absolutely. People who have never so much heard of a Western university routinely craft logical arguments. That doesn't make your conclusions necessarily correct, but the ability to construct an argument from given premises is instinctive and universal.
    Thank you for this very clear statement.

    Can I try to tempt you into providing your own home-made example of the kind of arguments you think people understand instinctively?
    EB

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Absolutely. People who have never so much heard of a Western university routinely craft logical arguments. That doesn't make your conclusions necessarily correct, but the ability to construct an argument from given premises is instinctive and universal.
    Thank you for this very clear statement.

    Can I try to tempt you into providing your own home-made example of the kind of arguments you think people understand instinctively?
    EB
    I'm not sure what you mean by home-made. I have often noticed in my line of work that cultures tend to have specific ideas about argumentation; European-Americans, for instance, have a stereotype of being fond of cause-and-effect arguments. "We must do this, because this will happen if we don't. I knew this guy and he did this, so all members of that will probably also do that." There are always built-in premises to such arguments; either inference (what happens once will happen again) or authority (if someone you trust says that a cause has an effect it probably does) or class logic (all members or subjects of a category behave similarly and can therefore be predicted). By contrast, my Hopi colleagues seldom used class logic or even direct cause-and-effect arguments in the sense of time passing and having predictable effects, but nevertheless put a lot of store in precedent ("That's not how we are doing/have done things") and clan authority (unspoken: "The one who inherits family wisdom is also the most qualified to comment on current affairs") and story telling ("Yes, I went down to Gallup and saw something like that... A lot of crime down there in Gallup [unspoken inference: "if we do that, we'll be doing things like they do in Gallup, and there's crime down there too"].)

    The thing I've noticed though, is that you can generally understand or "follow" the logic someone else is using, once it is explained. Even if you do not agree, or see their reasoning as valid, it's never so different that you can't "get" the argument they are constructing given a few minutes' explanation. While different communities have distinct styles of resaosning, I don't see how we could all make ourselves understood to one another unless there was some underlying cognitive framework that ties it all together. I've always found such conversations interesting, though I am no expert on philosophy, not having had any upper division schooling in that field.

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Absolutely. People who have never so much heard of a Western university routinely craft logical arguments. That doesn't make your conclusions necessarily correct, but the ability to construct an argument from given premises is instinctive and universal.
    Thank you for this very clear statement.

    Can I try to tempt you into providing your own home-made example of the kind of arguments you think people understand instinctively?
    EB
    I'm not sure what you mean by home-made. I have often noticed in my line of work that cultures tend to have specific ideas about argumentation; European-Americans, for instance, have a stereotype of being fond of cause-and-effect arguments. "We must do this, because this will happen if we don't. I knew this guy and he did this, so all members of that will probably also do that." There are always built-in premises to such arguments; either inference (what happens once will happen again) or authority (if someone you trust says that a cause has an effect it probably does) or class logic (all members or subjects of a category behave similarly and can therefore be predicted). By contrast, my Hopi colleagues seldom used class logic or even direct cause-and-effect arguments in the sense of time passing and having predictable effects, but nevertheless put a lot of store in precedent ("That's not how we are doing/have done things") and clan authority (unspoken: "The one who inherits family wisdom is also the most qualified to comment on current affairs") and story telling ("Yes, I went down to Gallup and saw something like that... A lot of crime down there in Gallup [unspoken inference: "if we do that, we'll be doing things like they do in Gallup, and there's crime down there too"].)

    The thing I've noticed though, is that you can generally understand or "follow" the logic someone else is using, once it is explained. Even if you do not agree, or see their reasoning as valid, it's never so different that you can't "get" the argument they are constructing given a few minutes' explanation. While different communities have distinct styles of resaosning, I don't see how we could all make ourselves understood to one another unless there was some underlying cognitive framework that ties it all together. I've always found such conversations interesting, though I am no expert on philosophy, not having had any upper division schooling in that field.
    Thanks for the examples.

    I would agree that most people never really articulate anything like an argument. However, understanding each other requires that we infer what the other person means from what he says, and precisely because people don't bother to articulate what they mean (even on this board), you're left with the job of inferring meaning. Whether we succeed most of the time or not is not the point. The point is that we have to do it and be content with what we end up with because that's all we will ever have and that's the substance of our conversations. Thus, inference is crucial and while different people may be variously apt at doing it, we all have to do it. This also applies to everything that's going on around us, not just conversations.

    The case of your Hopi friends is interesting. As I understand it, logical inference is mostly automatic. Most of the time, you don't have to think to get other people's point. For example, suppose we are talking about Trump. After ten minutes, someone says "Well, anyhow, all these politicians, they're just full of shit!". And that's it. Everybody understands the implication and nobody even has to think about it. You just understand the implication. It's automatic. In such cases, you in fact have to infer what inference is suggested, a kind of double implication. So while your typical Hopi guy may not feel like articulating anything very much, I would expect their mind is just as busy as anyone else's making automatic inferences all the time without asking the permission to do it. The fact that it's automatic also explains that some people, while perfectly adjusted to life in a modern environment, may not feel the need to articulate any inference. In that sense, while logic is essentially the job of our unconscious mind and unaffected by culture, formal logic, or anything like verbalised logic, is on the contrary subject to the habits and custom prevailing in your culture. This also explains why most people aren't very good at articulating logical arguments. Most of the time, we don't have to even think about it and inferring from what people say still requires that you should be familiar with the language used.
    EB

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

    I'm not sure what you mean by home-made. I have often noticed in my line of work that cultures tend to have specific ideas about argumentation; European-Americans, for instance, have a stereotype of being fond of cause-and-effect arguments. "We must do this, because this will happen if we don't. I knew this guy and he did this, so all members of that will probably also do that." There are always built-in premises to such arguments; either inference (what happens once will happen again) or authority (if someone you trust says that a cause has an effect it probably does) or class logic (all members or subjects of a category behave similarly and can therefore be predicted). By contrast, my Hopi colleagues seldom used class logic or even direct cause-and-effect arguments in the sense of time passing and having predictable effects, but nevertheless put a lot of store in precedent ("That's not how we are doing/have done things") and clan authority (unspoken: "The one who inherits family wisdom is also the most qualified to comment on current affairs") and story telling ("Yes, I went down to Gallup and saw something like that... A lot of crime down there in Gallup [unspoken inference: "if we do that, we'll be doing things like they do in Gallup, and there's crime down there too"].)

    The thing I've noticed though, is that you can generally understand or "follow" the logic someone else is using, once it is explained. Even if you do not agree, or see their reasoning as valid, it's never so different that you can't "get" the argument they are constructing given a few minutes' explanation. While different communities have distinct styles of resaosning, I don't see how we could all make ourselves understood to one another unless there was some underlying cognitive framework that ties it all together. I've always found such conversations interesting, though I am no expert on philosophy, not having had any upper division schooling in that field.
    Thanks for the examples.

    I would agree that most people never really articulate anything like an argument. However, understanding each other requires that we infer what the other person means from what he says, and precisely because people don't bother to articulate what they mean (even on this board), you're left with the job of inferring meaning. Whether we succeed most of the time or not is not the point. The point is that we have to do it and be content with what we end up with because that's all we will ever have and that's the substance of our conversations. Thus, inference is crucial and while different people may be variously apt at doing it, we all have to do it. This also applies to everything that's going on around us, not just conversations.

    The case of your Hopi friends is interesting. As I understand it, logical inference is mostly automatic. Most of the time, you don't have to think to get other people's point. For example, suppose we are talking about Trump. After ten minutes, someone says "Well, anyhow, all these politicians, they're just full of shit!". And that's it. Everybody understands the implication and nobody even has to think about it. You just understand the implication. It's automatic. In such cases, you in fact have to infer what inference is suggested, a kind of double implication. So while your typical Hopi guy may not feel like articulating anything very much, I would expect their mind is just as busy as anyone else's making automatic inferences all the time without asking the permission to do it. The fact that it's automatic also explains that some people, while perfectly adjusted to life in a modern environment, may not feel the need to articulate any inference. In that sense, while logic is essentially the job of our unconscious mind and unaffected by culture, formal logic, or anything like verbalised logic, is on the contrary subject to the habits and custom prevailing in your culture. This also explains why most people aren't very good at articulating logical arguments. Most of the time, we don't have to even think about it and inferring from what people say still requires that you should be familiar with the language used.
    EB
    This makes sense to me.

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    You are a funny guy, really. I brought up animals trwice.

    The abcient Incas and other American cultures were fantastic engineers. Construction, sweage, wtaher supplies, drainage, roads that would be good today. I doubt any of them heard of Arostotle.

    Aristotelians logic is an artificial creating, as is all language.

    We observe followed by trial and error in solving a problem withiout the need to have consdious thought.

    There are chimps that quarry stones, and fashion them into tools to crack nuts. The knowledge is passed on y observation and mimick. No s[peach or written language.

    If invention and survival were based on formal logic there would not be the life we see today.

    A non technical manger asked me to look at a problem. When I gave him the solution he asked me how I derived the solution in a step by step manner. U could not, I did not go through a sequential logical process. I 'saw' the solution without a logical process. The baton assimilates knowledge and experience and distils it to something else. intuition if you like. I expect critters like chimps do the same.

    I would look at a design and come away thinking there was something wrong but nothing specific. It could rake weeks for it to percolate up to conscious thought. Nothing special about me, the same went for many I worked with.

    That is why inexperienced people following a narrow chain of logic can often end up being wrong.

    You appear inexperienced drawing conclusions based on logic and assumption of premises. Yor premises on logic do not bear out in reality.

    Reduce your argument to a syllogism as you like to do. Then we can pick it apart.

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    A desperate cry for attention and recognition in the dark.

    You chronically promote Aristotelian logic as some kind of mystical-mystical entity which it is not.

    You asked of innate human cognitive ability. It is evidenced by the accomplishments of early humans before any sophisticated language or even speech.

    Animals can work towards a goal.

    How specifically is that not an answer ?

    As a philosopher can you explore viewpoints?

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    A desperate cry for attention and recognition in the dark.
    Can't you just switch the light on if you're afraid of the night?

    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    You chronically promote Aristotelian logic as some kind of mystical-mystical entity which it is not.
    Pork pie.

    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    You asked of innate human cognitive ability. It is evidenced by the accomplishments of early humans before any sophisticated language or even speech.
    Good, if that's what you believe, then vote for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Animals can work towards a goal.

    How specifically is that not an answer ?
    Possibly, but what took you so long?

    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    As a philosopher can you explore viewpoints?
    Start your own thread if you're interested in that topic.
    EB

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    EB is taking down names...muast be we are in trouble.

    I am not undecided. I gave my view and my reasoning. I did not vote because in te end it is pointless. It is anoter one of EB's threads on logic that goes on forever. No interest in debate.

    The basic question is without EB's formal Aristotelian logic how on Earth could humans without articulate language and writing have accomplished anything at all.
    Last edited by steve_bank; 05-29-2019 at 12:42 AM.

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