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Logic Essay Help


I have a 1500 word max essay due in a week. The topic is "Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using logic as the justification of your knowledge claims." I'm needing a wee bit of help with this one!

So far, I've thought of the following points.


- Allows for an unbiased approach to making claims, instead of an emotionally based one.

- Allows for an argument based on correct reasoning.

- Deduction: based on the premise, what is said is totally valid

- Induction: allows us a high probability

- Rational as opposed to emotional

- Allows our knowledge to be refined and our understanding to grow


- Logic leads to valid conclusions, not true ones.

- Logic relies on many of the other ways of knowing, such as memory, consensus, sensory perception (see: acceptability),

- Leap of faith needed to decide if an action is acceptable in practice

- How much information is needed before a correct conclusion?

- Logic can muddle ideas > paradoxes

- Something seemingly clear can be misleading – logic quickly falls into this trap in its fallacies

- Acceptability, sufficiency, relevancy: all subjective. They, in and of themselves, don’t follow logical rules

- Some things cannot be proven with logic (ie: I can’t prove that I exist)

Are there any huge things that I'm missing? Are any of my points very weak?


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I think you shouldn't contrast logic with emotion so much, simply because there's a whole bit in the syllabus about how we should think of reason and emotion as on a continuum. Instead you could distribute the focus evenly between the three Ways of Knowing (not including reason, which is where logic falls): perception, emotion and language. Perhaps you could split your ideas into four distinct sections and dedicate a paragraph or whatever to a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of logic in comparison with each.

Ways of Knowing: I don't think 'memory' is a Way of Knowing as it is not a way to justify knowledge claims. Consensus would be a logical fallacy (ad populum).

A point you could consider adding (at a glance) would be that we can use reason to acquire knowledge that goes beyond evidence provided by our senses. It might also be worth mentioning somewhere that inductive reasoning can easily lead us to hasty generalizations, especially because of confirmation bias, and that deductive reasoning, when applied to the real world, is no more certain than the inductively derived premises on which it is based.

I don't really understand what is meant by "Leap of faith needed to decide if an action is acceptable in practice" - can you clarify?

Some points I disagree with: I don't think it's really valid to talk about logic muddling ideas slash paradoxes because you should be discussing logic used correctly to justify knowledge claims. Also, you can only prove that you exist with logic; haven't you heard of Descartes' Cogito ergo sum philosophy? In a nutshell it states that the very fact that you are wondering whether or not you exist proves that you exist because you exist to debate your own existence.

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Generally, you want to include areas of knowledge in addition to ways of knowing. You might want to bring in the other three WOK in relation to logic, like charizard said, but don't spend too many words about them. You don't need to talk about the strengths and limitations of emotion ;)

And you probably want to cover 2-3 areas of knowledge in depth. I just covered AOKs by using examples in different areas.

I do like your points, but I don't think you'll have enough words to cover all of them. Like charizard said above, you can talk about deduction and induction as limitations of logic but how we rely on them. My teacher says reason is when humans try to apply logic. I think that distinction is pretty important, but you don't have to talk about that.

If you are going to emphasize that a strength of logic is that it's is better than emotion, I think you'd need to provide another point of view. You can talk about the continuum like charizard mentioned, but you can disagree with it. TOK's all about why you think what you think, so just try to present multiple views but don't try to make your paper express a view that you think graders want to see.

About Descartes "I think, therefore I am"

I don't follow through his logic completely. I think understand the claims he makes and the assumptions, but I don't think they're valid. I think there's an enthymeme--there's some stuff missing. Kind of like his God exists argument, but not as obvious. This might show how we can try to use logic, but sometimes we lose clarity.

Anyways, I think your ideas are nice. Try to flesh them out with examples and present multiple views. It's not a bad idea to consider Socrates' "Wisest is she who knows she does not know."

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