Logic: Normative or Descriptive

Logic: Normative or Descriptive
Tobias
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Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 7:07 AM:

Can I take this route? Logic is self reflective. If the rules of logic are a-priori, than that means they structure every possible experience. The science of logic is than nothing other than illuminating the rules we unknowingly apply anyway. Logic than is not a descripive sciences in the sense that it examines how it is in general applied when people structure their experience in thought and language, nor a prescriptive science that tells us how logic should be applied and how we should structure experience in thought and language, but logic tells us how we unwaveringly structure our thoughts into thought an language, albeit not being aware oıf these rules.

Logic indeed discovers, but doesn't discover anything new, only what is already present and presupposed, but unarticulated. It discovers these things by exactly applying itself to itself. We study logic by doing logic.
regards
Tobi

PS. A question is ofcourse if the rules of logic are a-priori. I was involved in some thread about that recently.
Machiveli
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#12 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 7:54 AM:

formalising "the rules we apply anyway"

it seems to me that we do not need to restrict ourselves to considering logic the same applies to any mathematical notation. A good example would be matrices or tensors since neither can be said to exist except as tools for thinking and the later is a generalisation of the former.
polyester
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#13 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 1:07 PM:

let me try to formulate the reasons for my skepticism whether logic is really a very suitable way of describing the 'world' (as in natural sciences based on logical premises) or language.

first, as has been said, not only the 'world' but also language is very messy - to the point of a house being able to stand not only when it is built in a correct manner but also when it is built wrong, to a certain point. and this wrong is a questionable concept as it apparently does not correspond to 'not functional'. if we take this back to language, my point is that we not only understand sentences which are wrong in the sense of containing mistakes, but also poetry. poetry in fact could be said in a sense to work much better than logic, often being more precise and more economic. of course, this depends on the goal. if the goal is to be watertight, logic beats poetry anytime. but it is clear that logic is a very good tool for advocates and not such a good tool for poets (i happen to know one who for the last few years has been getting lost in logical manoevres trying to formulate what is important to him in logical terms).

second, being 'rigourous, consistent, useful, and natural' is probably not going to help one correspond to the world because the world in general doesn't work that way. maybe it would if the nazis had been able to successfully expand their normative projects, - whoa whoa whoah, i don't mean to be provocative! it could be any utopian idea - but as it is, it is full of laziness, inconsistence, useless stuff and unnatural stuff, the latter being in particular us humans. this isn't negative! as a primitive example, the reason why some animals work really well, in a darwinistic sense, was that mistakes created mutants at a time when the animal was working ok but not great.

so why doesn't a poetophile like me just ignore logic and go write a poem? i do think attempts to 'loosen' logic, such as fuzzy or quantum systems, very interesting. it seems to me logicians should be more bold in trying out more basic reconceptions rather than trying to incorporate the quirks encountered when they try to be descriptive of the world and language by going into more and more clauses. bash me if i'm wrong, but it seems to me it is only a very small part of language is in the grasp of all branches of logic put together, and it would be interesting to either try out a stongly modified system (maybe not binary, for example) or try to find other systems which would be more adept at describing things like metaphor, intentional speech or associations which are freaks in a world that begins with truth-values but constitute a large part of how language works.
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#14 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 1:53 PM:

Tobias wrote:
Logic is self reflective. If the rules of logic are a-priori, than that means they structure every possible experience. The science of logic is than nothing other than illuminating the rules we unknowingly apply anyway. Logic than is not a descripive sciences in the sense that it examines how it is in general applied when people structure their experience in thought and language, nor a prescriptive science that tells us how logic should be applied and how we should structure experience in thought and language, but logic tells us how we unwaveringly structure our thoughts into thought an language, albeit not being aware oıf these rules. Logic indeed discovers, but doesn't discover anything new, only what is already present and presupposed, but unarticulated. It discovers these things by exactly applying itself to itself. We study logic by doing logic.

anamnesis of the logos? how platonic / hegelian of you, tobi ... cool
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#15 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 2:29 PM:

Husserl's detailed 'Prolegomena to Pure Logic' from his Logische Untersuchungen is required reading for this topic.

wink
Gassendi1
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#16 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 3:56 PM:

Tobias wrote:
Can I take this route? Logic is self reflective. If the rules of logic are a-priori, than that means they structure every possible experience. The science of logic is than nothing other than illuminating the rules we unknowingly apply anyway. Logic than is not a descripive sciences in the sense that it examines how it is in general applied when people structure their experience in thought and language, nor a prescriptive science that tells us how logic should be applied and how we should structure experience in thought and language, but logic tells us how we unwaveringly structure our thoughts into thought an language, albeit not being aware oıf these rules.

Logic indeed discovers, but doesn't discover anything new, only what is already present and presupposed, but unarticulated. It discovers these things by exactly applying itself to itself. We study logic by doing logic.
regards
Tobi

PS. A question is ofcourse if the rules of logic are a-priori. I was involved in some thread about that recently.



Logic is not psychology (as Frege argued) so it does not describe how we do think. It describes the rules of how we ought to think in order to arrive as true conclusions. Thus, logic, since it describes the rules of thinking, is a normative science.
In deductive logic, it is said, we merely conclude what already is in the premises. In a sense this is true. It is true in the sense that the theorems of Euclidean geometry "merely" bring out what is already in the axioms. Wittgenstein writes that there are no suprises in logic. That is true only in the formal sense. Certainly not in the psychological sense. In that sense, there are surprises galore.

Inductive logic is another kettle of fish, since, as the elementary logic books tell us, the conclusion always goes "beyond" the premises.
AKG
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#17 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 4:08 PM:

Civil engineering describes the rules of how we ought to build bridges in order to build safe bridges.

Social sciences describe the rules of how we ought to behave in social settings (i.e. social/cultural norms) in order to behave in a socially approved manner.

Computer science describes the rules of how we ought to design algorithms in order to have efficient programs.

Which of the above are normative sciences, Gassendi1?
Gassendi1
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#18 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 5:11 PM:

AKG wrote:
Civil engineering describes the rules of how we ought to build bridges in order to build safe bridges.

Social sciences describe the rules of how we ought to behave in social settings (i.e. social/cultural norms) in order to behave in a socially approved manner.

Computer science describes the rules of how we ought to design algorithms in order to have efficient programs.

Which of the above are normative sciences, Gassendi1?


Good point, although I have never heard social science described that way, and I think that what you say about it is false. But, I suppose you could think about the other two examples in that way. We don't though.
AKG
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#19 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 6, 2005 - 5:21 PM:

That's just one of the many things social science does. My point was this: describing what the rules of acceptable social behaviour are (one thing sociologists do) is the same thing as saying what rules we ought to follow in order to behave in a socially acceptable manner. Describing social norms is purely descriptive. You can rephrase what sociologists do in a manner that sounds normative (and indeed some things they do are normative, but not this), but it still is descriptive and not normative.

A science which goes around saying that we ought to build safe bridges, that we ought to behave in a socially acceptable manner, and the we ought to have efficient computer programs would be normative. However a science that says how we ought to build bridges in order to have safe ones is equivalent to a science that says how safe bridges are built (and is descriptive), a science that says how we ought to behave in order to be socially acceptable is equivalent to a science that says what the social norms are (and is descriptive), and a science that says how we ought to design algorithms in order to have efficient programs is equivalent to a science that describes efficient algorithms (and is descriptive).

Similarly, a science which goes about saying that we ought to produce truth-preserving arguments would be normative. However, a science that says how we ought to argue in order to preserve truth is equivalent to a science that says which arguments are truth-preserving (and is descriptive). Sociologists don't choose social norms, they observe society and determine what those norms are. Logicians don't stipulate which arguments shall preserve truth, they observe language, then deconstruct language and discover its underlying structure (logic) and then use that to determine what the truth-preserving argument structures are.

If you observe American culture, you will be able to report that walking on the right side of the sidewalk is a cultural norm. It follows from direct observation and description of American culture. If you analyze language, and specifically figure out what "implies" means, you will be able to report that:

A --> B
A
--------
B

is an argument/structure for an argument that preserves truth. It follows from direct observation and description of the language (specifically, the word "implies")
Timothy
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#20 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jan 16, 2005 - 6:38 PM:

I've been thinking about this matter the whole week. I still want to think of logic as normative, but you have illustrated your point nicely. Now i'm in betweens.
This matter will require more thinking and reading, so I'll post something more intelligent later. But I do have a question for you: Have you talked this with your Modern Symbolic Logic teacher?
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