How Does Logic Help Us Clarify Or

Solve Problems? Essay, Research Paper

Everyday people employ the use of logic to help them clarify or solve

problems. Logic may only provide validity or highly probable ideas, but the

correct answer, if any, is left for one to decide. The science of thinking and

rationalizing, logic is like a double-edge sword. When logic is utilized it may

become an efficient tool, capable of discovering correct ideas and

understandings. Yet, it can also become an unsolvable maze, causing more

confusion than clarity. There are certain methods of logic to determine possible

solutions for a problem and to verify them. Induction and deduction are

arguments that may give a solution, which is not considered absolutely true but

rather having correct reasoning. For logic can only determine ?the distinction

between correct and incorrect reasoning? (Copi, p.5) of a problem. Well these

methods can be useful; it still can make a problem more confusing such as with

the case of paradoxes. It is up to one to make the leap of faith to decide if

the conclusions of the methods are acceptable in practice or not.

The argument of induction is based upon the idea of having a set of given

general information called the premise. From the premise, one then can formulate

a conclusion that supercedes the information, from the problem. A simple example

of this is: There was one apple missing from the basket

that was in the house. John was seen leaving the house

with an apple. Therefore John must have taken the apple.

The conclusion made from this argument seems right, but an inductive

argument can only produce a probable answer and therefore is not absolutely

true. So when induction is used, there is still a chance that the conclusion

might be wrong. Hence any inductive conclusion must be thought as highly

probable but having a chance that it might be wrong. It is up to one to judge

for themselves if they have solved the problem or not.

?In induction our reasoning takes us beyond what we already know, it widens

our knowledge.? (Dilman, p.29) Induction is used in scientific problems for the

reason that with given knowledge on can ?provide conclusions whose content

exceeds that of their premises.? (Salmon, p.87) Although one must still face the

fact that the conclusions of an inductive argument may be wrong though the

premise might be true. Even with the uncertainty of inductive reasoning, being

right or wrong, ?most of our everyday reasoning is inductive.? (Olen, p.318)

To give an accurate conclusion for induction, one must be aware that the

premises are all true but also that there is enough information for one to

actually make a concluding statement. For example a scientist finds that crow #1

is black, crow #2 is black, and crow #3 is black. He then concludes that all

crows are black. The final statement is considered to be incorrect because there

is a lack of information provided to concluded an ?all? statement but that lead

to another question. How much information is needed to make a correct solution?

The obvious answer would be to find out what color all the crows are, but in

practice that would be impossible. It is up to one to decide how many crows

should be tested, the more tested, the higher the probability that it is true.

This type of question often occurs in scientific studies, where scientists test

an experiment over and over before coming to a conclusion. The lack of

information in inductive reasoning is the reason why this type of logic only

provides probable answers.

People live in a world of probability. Induction is used so often that some

philosophers question the justification of it. David Hume first introduced the

so-called problem of induction. Hume argued that to justify it, the problem

?resorts to induction in order to justify induction,? (Olen, p.323) and

therefore ?provides no justification at all.? (Olen, p.323) This logical

reasoning of Hume and other philosophers on the problem creates disagreement

with other philosopher?s views upon induction. Thus confusion arises on the

truth of the solution, for logic can only give valid or probable ideas.

Deduction is a logical argument that is created through specific information

given. Using the information one can produce a correct general conclusion. The

purpose of deductive reasoning is to determine if a problem is valid or invalid.

When the conclusion is said to follow from the premises, a sound deduction, ?it

is impossible for the premises to be true without the conclusion also being

true.? (Black, p.28) An example is: All cars are red

Hondas are cars Therefore Hondas

are red The conclusion of Hondas being red logically follows from the two

given general information which makes it a sound deduction. Although this

example?s conclusion has correct reasoning and is valid, it is obviously not

true and therefore one must conclude that the solution is wrong. Since the

premise of the problem is false a wrong conclusion will be produced because the

conclusion logically follows a false premise, it becomes wrong. For logic to

help one to clarify or provide validity, the information that one has must be

true in order to have correct reasoning.

The information, premise, plays a vital role in deduction. Take for instance:

All dogs have two eyes John has

two eyes Therefore John is a dog It is apparent that

this example is wrong. One has to make sure that the information given makes

sense, is not too vague and provides enough information to make a true and valid


With the method of deduction, the problem it creates is not in the process

itself. The problem is in the specific information given for the question.

Information such as ?all dogs are born with four legs? and ?all ravens are

black? comes from inductive reasoning, both having a chance of being wrong. When

they are used in deductive reasoning, the statement is considered true but it

still can be wrong. Therefore even if the conclusion is soundly deducted, the

premise can be false, making the conclusion wrong. One must remember that when

dealing with deduction, the main concern is with the premise, whether or not it

is true. Without having true information the conclusion will always be wrong.

Logic is useful in many ways but in some cases it proves to be the confusion.

The confusion of logic is greatly amplified in the idea of a paradox. Some

philosophers looked at this idea; one philosopher was Bertrand Russell. He

proposed some paradox such as: If a barber only shaves all the people who don?t

shave themselves, does he shave himself? If one were to logical rationalize an

acceptable solution, the answer that one can get is impossible. When the barber

shaves himself, it contradicts the statement that ?he only shaves all the people

who don?t shave themselves? and vice versa when he does not shave himself. In

practice, the barber must get shaved or else he does not shave at all but using

logic it is impossible and thus making the problem confusing. Russell concluded

that for a paradox there is two sets of reasoning, ?all values of the said

function are true? (Russell, p.75) or ?when the collection forms part or whole

of the range of significance of some prepositional function.? (Russell, p.75) In

other words: Sets that do contain themselves

Sets that do not contain themselves The second

statement of Russell?s ?cannot be properly defined without reaching another

contradiction.? (Cirrito, p.13) This confusion can only teach one to be more

precise with the language used of else a paradox might occur.

Logic plays a very important role in clarifying or solving problems. Most of

the time it creates clarity and acceptable ideas but sometimes it can be the

cause of all the confusion. The argument of induction is a logical method to

provide one with acceptable answers. Although the process can be correctly

reasoned out, one must still realize that the conclusion might be wrong.

Induction can only produce highly probable conclusions and therefore never

absolutely true. Logical deduction is a process of determining validity of a

problem. When there is a sound deduction it is absolutely impossible for the

premise to be true unless the conclusion is true also. To have correct deduction

one must ensure that he or she has enough true evidence to make a concluding

statement. People should not always rely upon the use of logic to solve

problems, such problems as paradoxes hinder the idea of logic. The final

decision on the right solution, if any, of a problem depends on the person

trying to solve the question. Logic is just a tool for someone to use.

Cited Works Jeffrey Olen, ?Persons and their World?

Wesley C. Salmon, ?Logic? Ilham Dilman, ?Induction and Deduction?

Irving M. Copi, ?Introduction to Logic? Max Black, ?Critical Thinking?

Bertrand Russell, ?Logic and Knowledge? Fabio Cirrito, ?International

Baccalaureate Mathematics Higher Level (Core)?


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