Early Logic

However elegant and memorable, brevity can never, in the nature of things, do justice to all the facts of a complex situation . . . . Abbreviation (though) is a necessary evil, and the abbreviator’s business is to make the best of the job which, though intrinsically bad, is still better than nothing. He must learn to simplify, but not to the point of falsification. He must learn to concentrate upon the essentials of a situation, but without ignoring too many of reality’s qualifying side issues. In this way he may be able to tell, not . . . the whole truth . . . but considerably more than the dangerous quarter-truths and half-truths which have always been the current coin of thought.

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

 

 

Syllogisms

Arguments come in many forms.  Unfortunately, their form is not always evident and may require some work to discover.  At times it requires very careful thought about just what is intended.  To become good at picking out arguments is not a matter of applying a simple mechanical process, but something that takes practice and perseverance.  Many arguments are quite troublesome.  This is especially so when arguments contain the following elements: repeated statements, irrelevant statements, and multiple conclusions.  It is also true for arguments that are incomplete, and arguments that are obscure.

Some Examples

  • All cows are hoofed.
  • Some hoofed creatures have horns.
  • Some cows have horns.
  • All logicians are knaves
  • All knaves study logic
  • All logicians study logic
  • Grass is green
  • The sky is blue
  • Thus, water is wet.
  • All wicked things are foolish
  • Some elves are wicked
  • Some elves are foolish
  • All spiders have six legs
  • All six-legged creatures are insects
  • All spiders are insects
  • Some cats are friendly.
  • Some cats smell.
  • Some friendly things smell.
  • Some elements are metals
  • Some metals are alloys
  • Some elements are alloys
  • All dragons are uncanny
  • All Scots are canny
  • No Scots are dragons

 

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