A Surprising Integration

 Posted by on 25 August 2006 at 6:27 am  Uncategorized
Aug 252006

A little while ago PhilosopherEagle posted a blog entry integrateing the conventions of modern logic with Ayn Rand’s distinction between motivation by love and motivation by fear. No really, see for yourself:

Tonight, I resumed my study of modern symbolic logic, and I made an important integration with the distinction between motivation by love and motivation by fear. (Harry Binswanger criticized my presentation of Galileo for being motivated by the fear of criticism, so this distinction has been on my mind.) My observation is that the basic motivation of modern logic is the fear of slipping up and making a mistake rather than the value of coming to know the world. I have been puzzled for a couple of months now by many of the conventions of modern logicians. For example, any argument whose conclusion must be true is said to be deductively valid. So if our premise is that apples are delicious, we can validly conclude that John is either a carpenter or not a carpenter. I submit that this is not a valid deductive argument, because it is not an argument at all. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. In “The Logic Book,” however, one finds this defense of the standard convention: “To put the point another way, this argument is truth-preserving. It will never lead us from truths to a falsehood because it will never lead us to falsehood–because the conclusion is logically true. There is no risk of reaching a false conclusion here precisely because there is no risk that the conclusion is false” (22). This point is true enough: if we have true premises, we will never deduce anything false from them. But the purpose of logic is not the avoidance any risk of falsehood. It is to guide us as we learn about the world and discover new knowledge. “Truth-preservation” is the wrong motivation for a system of logic. It is because of this motivation that modern logic is almost completely useless in real life.


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