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At Mind Matters News: Jonathan Bartlett Coming to the Defense of Classical Logic


Bartlett reminds us, classical logic belongs to everyone and can be equally wielded by anyone:

It seems odd that classical logic would need defending, but, in modern times, this seems to indeed be the case. Many modern scholars see the need for demoting the place of classical logic and viewing it as an aspect of western cultural imperialism. In reality, classical logic is a gift to civilization. It was created in the classical west, but its benefit is that it belongs to everyone and can be equally wielded by anyone who chooses to do so.

Many criticisms of classical logic, like criticisms of mathematics, have both valid and invalid complaints. It is true that many people use classical logic incorrectly, and then use the authority of classical logic as the justification for problematic statements. In logic, all inferences flow from a set of assumptions, which logic itself does not justify. It is easy to create a logical inference from bad assumptions, and then claim that your results are just “logical deductions” from the truth. However, it is difficult to blame classical logic itself on this, as there is not any system of inference that is capable of preventing its misuse, and none have even been proposed as such.

The benefit that classical logic has, though, is that it has sufficient tools to evaluate its own usage. That is, if logic is being misapplied against you, better logic can be applied in your favor. Because the rules of logic are explicit, known, understandable, and agreed upon, this provides the means for someone who is having bad logic used against them to respond in their own defense. News, “Coming to the Defense of Classical Logic” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: What makes classical logic especially important is that it creates an equal playing field, giving peasants the tools and rules to override kings and queens.

The war on math isn’t going to do anything similar for students. Quite the opposite. And the only question now is, is that a bug or — in reality, a feature?

You may also wish to read: Yes, there really is a war on math in our schools. Pundits differ as to the causes but here are some facts parents should know.


Further dispatches from the war on math (September 14, 2021) Discussions of social policy where math is relevant can be useful. But a student who does not understand how an equation works will fail at both math AND social policy.

I don't think symbolic logic is going away. The computer version of symbolic logic is more relevant to everyday life, less prone to trickery, and is easy to show and use in any simple language like Python. The classical meaning of OR is nonintuitive and capable of being used for trickery, and the classical implication is totally tricky. Computers have XOR, which matches the ordinary language meaning of OR. The computer use of IF also matches ordinary language. polistra

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