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

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Thread: 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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    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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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    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"].)
    Do you know of any Hopi forum?

    I'd like to get a feel of what it is like to think like a Hopi.
    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
    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"].)
    Do you know of any Hopi forum?

    I'd like to get a feel of what it is like to think like a Hopi.
    EB
    I doubt that there is much of a Hopi presence on the internet as such? You might enjoy The World of the Hopi, Frank Water's anthology of interviews on Hopi worldview with various elders of that nation. Albert Yava's memoir Big Falling Snow is also a good read. Or the 1980 collection called Hopi Nation.

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    We[[.

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    Ancient humans started with fire and we ended up on the moon. Ancient humans figured out how to make spears, blades, arrows without any formal logic and written language.

    There was a book on what was called the bicameral mind. It argued in part that Aristotelian logic became so ingrained in western culture that the natural ability of the brain was culturally suppressed.

    We know the brain functions as a 3d network of logic gates, so to speak. Logic to me is linear only in a restricted set of cases to which formal logic is applied. For me there is an internal weighting function that is part of reasoning.

    Not all problems are reducible to linear logic functions and rules. In western culture in thr rexterme anything not reduced to logic that can be tested is rejected.

    There are cultures that have no western sense of the individual sense of self and passage of time.

    Birds, octopi, squirrels, chimps, monkeys all appear to be able to reason through problems they have never seen before.

    Over time you correlate weather conditions with the weather that follows. The smell of rain or snow. There is no need to reduce it to logic, you internalize it and act in accordance with observation. You look at the window and you do not create a syllogism, the though that it may rain comes to you.

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