Logic and rationality

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As the study of argument is of clear importance to the reasons that we hold things to be true, logic is of essential importance to rationality.

Forms of reasoning

Deductive reasoning concerns the logical consequence of given premises. On a narrow conception of logic, logic concerns just deductive reasoning, although such a narrow conception controversially excludes most of what is called informal logic from the discipline. Other forms of reasoning are sometimes also taken to be part of logic, such as inductive reasoning and abductive reasoning, which are forms of reasoning that are not purely deductive, but include material inference. Similarly, it is important to distinguish deductive validity and inductive validity (called "strength"). An inference is deductively valid if and only if there is no possible situation in which all the premises are true but the conclusion false. An inference is inductively strong if and only if its premises give some degree of probability to its conclusion.

The notion of deductive validity can be rigorously stated for systems of formal logic in terms of the well-understood notions of semantics. Inductive validity, on the other hand, requires us to define a reliable generalization of some set of observations. The task of providing this definition may be approached in various ways, some less formal than others; some of these definitions may use logical association rule induction, while others may use mathematical models of probability such as decision trees. For the most part this discussion of logic deals only with deductive logic.

Abductive reasoning is a form of inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation. In abductive reasoning, unlike in deductive reasoning, the premises do not guarantee the conclusion. One can understand abductive reasoning as "inference to the best explanation".[1]

Critical thinking

Critical thinking, also called critical analysis, is clear, rational thinking involving critique.


Dialectic is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. It has been the object of study since ancient times, but only recently has it been the subject of attempts at formalisation.


Illogicality is a thought disorder, that is, a symptom of a mental disorder.

See also


  1. Sober, Elliot. Core Questions in Philosophy, 5th edition.