What Is A System of Logic
According to Johnson (2007), "... a system of logic provides methods of testing our reasoning as well as clarifying our reasoning" (p. 48). As Priest (2000) points out, "Most people like to think of themselves as logical. Telling someone 'You are not being logical' is normally a form of criticism" (p. 1). It appears that people tend to feel that their own views are the logical ones. They tend to assume that other people who contradict them are therefore the illogical ones. Having an objective system of logic to sort these issues out can help both sides to find a common ground.
Having a system to apply to a series of statements can help the evaluator determine the nature of those statements - if they are valid or invalid, if they lead from A to B to C. Gensler (2002) praises this - "The rigor of logical systems will likely fascinate you. Most people find logic enjoyable." I know I certainly do - I have immense fun creating Venn diagrams and helping my editors understand how categorization works.
I have found in my role of web educator that there is never a "bad student." That is, if I am trying to explain something and the person does not understand it, it cannot be their fault. They are the one who is seeking knowledge. It must be my fault for not explaining the situation clearly enough, in terms they can understand, and in a context that makes sense to them. Systems of logic help to make that clear. If I am able to break down a task into its component members, and ensure that the student understands fully each item in turn, they then, without fail, see the conclusion I have been building up to. It is only if my logic is faulty, or I do not clearly describe one of the critical steps, that the logical progression breaks down.
That is, by understanding and following a system of logic, I can ensure that my message is properly understood by the recipient.
I should caveat that it of course does not mean that they *agree* with that message in the end. I can step by step explain a message of exactly how to ensure an article gets a #1 Google ranking - and it may be once they understand it that they do not want their article to be #1. It could be that the #1 thought scares them, to have so many people viewing their written works. So that fear would then be an entirely separate argument for me to look into. So to me part of the study of systems of arguments is to know how to isolate the individual aspects of an argument and to work diligently on the specific task that is being targeted.
I have taught many editors how to work through presenting logical arguments. This is a critical task for journalistic and content-providing writing. It is definitely a skill that can be learned and expanded on. One could say that learning skills in logic is the foundation of many journalism courses. Providing a system of logic helps to structure that learning and evaluation.
Gensler, Harry. (2002). Introduction to Logic. New York, NY: Routledge.
Johnson, Robert M. (2007). A Logic Book. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cenage Learning.
Priest, Graham. (2000). Logic: A Very Short Introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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