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Abstract: The subjects of philosophy and logic are broadly characterized.
I. What is Philosophy? A. The derivation of the word is from the Greek roots: 1. philo²love of, affinity for, liking of As in the words ... philander²to engage in love affairs frivolously philanthropy²love mankind in general philately²to collect postage stamps -phile²one having a love for, e.g. anglophile philology²having a liking for words 2. sophia²wisdom As in the words ... sophist²one who loves knowledge sophomore²one who thinks he knows everything sophisticated²one who is knowledgeable B. A suggested definition: philosophy is the systematic inquiry into the principles and presupposition of any field of inquiry. 1. Psychologically, philosophy is an attitude, an approach, or a calling to answer, or to ask, or even to comment upon certain peculiar problems (i.e., problems such as those usually in the main branches of philosophy discussed below). 2. Eventually we must despair of an abstract definition and turn to what philosophers do² i.e., the practice of philosophy II. The Main Branches of Philosophy are divided as to the nature of the questions asked in each area. The integrity of these divisions cannot be rigidly maintained. A. Axiology: the study of value; the investigation of its nature, criteria and metaphysical status. 1. Characterization of some features of the definition: a. Nature of value: is value a fulfillment of desire, pleasure, a preference, or simply some kind of human interest? b. Criteria of value: is there no accounting for taste (de gustibus non (est) disputandum) or can rules and standards of values be set?
c. Status of value: how are values related to scientific facts? What ultimate worth do human values have, if any? Is value dependent upon the presence of human beings? 2. Axiology is sub-divided into ... a. Ethics: the study of values in human behavior; the study of moral problems which seeks to discover how one ought to act, not how one does in fact act or how one thinks one should act. b. Aesthetics: the study of value in the arts--the study of the beauty, sublimity, and principles of taste, harmony, order, and pattern. B. Epistemology: the study of knowledge, in particular, the study of the nature, scope and limits of human knowledge. 1. The investigation of the origin, structure, methods, and validity of knowledge. 2. As an example of orders of knowledge, consider the statement, "The earth is round." This can be successively translated depending upon context as ... The earth is spherical. The earth is an oblate spheroid (i.e., it's flattened at the poles). But what of the mountains, oceans, and so forth? Even if we surveyed exactly the shape, the process of surveying would itself measurably change the shape of the earth²e.g., footprints and indentations formed by our measuring instruments. In practice, can the exact shape ever be actually known? (No, but even though we can probably never know the exact shape of the earth at any given moment, we do know the earth has an exact shape.) 3. Consider two well-known epistemological problems: the first not solvable, the second solvable. a. Russell's Five Minute World Hypothesis: Suppose the earth were created five minutes ago, complete with memory images, history books, geological records, etc. That is, at the moment of creation, the universe would have all the evidence that it was billions of years old already "packed in." How could it ever be known that the creation of the universe did not occur five minutes ago? b. Suppose everything in the universe were to expand uniformly so that everything was one hundred times larger. How would we ever know it? C. Ontology or Metaphysics: the study of what is "really" real. Metaphysics deals with the socalled first principles of the natural order or the ultimate generalizations available to the human intellect. 1. What kinds of things exist? How do they exist? a. E.g., ideas have no size, shape, color, etc. My idea of the Empire State Building is quite
as small as my idea of a book. Do ideas exist in the same manner that physical objects exit? b. E.g., consider the truths of mathematics: How do geometric figures exist? Does a point (Euclid's "that which has no parts") exist apart from the idea of it? c. What is spirit made of? Or Soul? Or Matter? Or Space? Or a vacuum? III. To which of these branches of philosophy do you think logic belongs? A. Logic: the study of the methods and principles used in distinguishing correct from incorrect reasoning. B. Our knowledge is interrelated by logic. It forms the fabric of the sciences by ensuring the consistency of the statements that compose them. C. Hence, logic is usually considered a subdivision of epistemology, although, of course, logic is used in all areas of philosophy.
MODULE: Basic logic
TUTORIAL L01: What is logic?
L01.1 A preliminary definition
The term "logic" came from the Greek word logos, which is sometimes translated as "sentence", "discourse", "reason", "rule", and "ratio". Of course, these translations are not enough to help us understand the more specialized meaning of "logic" as it is used today. So what is logic? Briefly speaking, we might define logic as the study of the principles of correct reasoning. This is a rough definition, because how logic should be properly defined is actually quite a controversial matter. However, for the purpose of this tour, we thought it would be useful to give you at least some rough idea as to the subject matter that you will be studying. So this is what we shall try to do on this page.
L01.2 Logic is not the psychology of reasoning
One thing you should note about this definition is that logic is concerned with the principles of correct reasoning. Studying the correct principles of reasoning is not the same as studying the psychology of reasoning. Logic is the former discipline, and it tells us how we ought to reason if we want to reason correctly. Whether people actually follow these rules of correct reasoning is an empirical matter, something that is not the concern of logic. The psychology of reasoning, on the other hand, is an empirical science. It tells us about the actual reasoning habits of people, including their mistakes. A psychologist studying reasoning
might be interested in how people's ability to reason varies with age. But such empirical facts are of no concern to the logician.
L01.3 The principles of logic
So what are these principles of reasoning that are part of logic? There are many such principles, but the main (not the only) thing that we study in logic are principles governing the validity of arguments - whether certain conclusions follow from some given assumptions. For example, consider the following three arguments : If Tom is a philosopher, then Tom is poor. Tom is a philosopher. Therefore, Tom is poor. If K>10, then K>2. K>10. Therefore, K>2. If Tarragona is in Europe, then Tarragona is not in China. Tarragona is in Europe. Therefore, Tarragona is not in China. These three arguments here are obviously good arguments in the sense that their conclusions follow from the assumptions. If the assumptions of the argument are true, the conclusion of the argument must also be true. A logician will tell us that they are all cases of a particular form of argument known as "modus ponens" :
We shall be discussing validity again later on. It should be pointed out that logic is not just concerned with the validity of arguments. Logic also studies consistency, and logical truths, and
properties of logical systems such as completeness and soundness. But we shall see that these other concepts are also very much related to the concept of validity.
L01.4 Topic neutrality
Modus ponens might be used to illustrate two features about the rules of reasoing in logic. The first feature is its topic-neutrality. As the four examples suggest, modus ponens can be used in reasoning about diverse topics. This is true of all the principles of reasoning in logic. The laws of biology might be true only of living creatures, and the laws of economics are only applicable to collections of agents that enagage in financial transactions. But the principles of logic are universal principles which are more general than biology and economics. This is in part what is implied in the following definitions of logic by two very famous logicians : To discover truths is the task of all sciences; it falls to logic to discern the laws of truth. ... I assign to logic the task of discovering the laws of truth, not of assertion or thought." Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) From his 1956 paper "The Thought : A Logical Inquiry" in Mind Vol. 65. "logic" ... [is] ... the name of a discipline which analyzes the meaning of the concepts common to all the sciences, and establishes the general laws governing the concepts. Alfred Tarski (1901-1983) From his Introduction to logic and to the methodology of deductive sciences, Dover, page xi.
L01.5 Necessity in logic
A second feature of the principles of logic is that they are non-contingent, in the sense that they do not depend on any particular accidental features of the world. Physics and the other empirical sciences investigate the way the world actually is. Physicists might tell us that no signal can travel faster than the speed of light, but if the laws of physics have been different, then perhaps this would not have been true. Similarly, biologists might study how dolphins communicate with each other, but if the course of evolution had been different, then perhaps dolphins might not have existed. So the theories in the empirical sciences are contingent in the sense that they could have been otherwise. The principles of logic, on the other hand, are derived using reasoning only, and their validity does not depend on any contingent features of the world. For example, logic tells us that any statement of the form "If P then P." is necessarily true. This is a principle of the second kind that logician study. This principle tells us that a statement such as "if it is raining, then it is raining" must be true. We can easily see that this is indeed the case, whether or not it is actually raining. Furthermore, even if the laws of physics or weather patterns were to change, this statement will remain true. Thus we say that scientific truths (mathematics aside) are contingent whereas logical truths are necessary. Again this shows how logic is different from the empirical sciences like physics, chemistry or biology.
L01.6 Formal and informal logic
Sometimes a distinction is made between informal logic and formal logic. The term "informal logic" is often used to mean the same thing as critical thinking. Sometimes it is used to refer to the study of reasoning and fallacies in the context of everyday life. "Formal logic" is mainly concerned with formal systems of logic. These are specially constructed systems for carrying out proofs, where the languages and rules of reasoning are precisely and carefully defined. Sentential logic (also known as "Propositional logic") and Predicate Logic are both examples of formal systems of logic. There are many reasons for studying formal logic. One is that formal logic helps us identify patterns of good reasoning and patterns of bad reasoning, so we know which to follow and which to avoid. This is why studying basic formal logic can help improve critical thinking. Formal systems of logic are also used by linguists to study natural languages. Computer scientists also employ formal systems of logic in research relating to Aritificial Intelligence. Finally, many philosophers also like to use formal logic when dealing with complicated philosophical problems, in order to make their reasoning more explicit and precise.