Regarding Logic and It's flaws

I find logic to be such an interesting topic. After all, without logic, people would not be able to make coherent points. I mean, duh, if somebody says an unreasonable argument they will, most of the time, be ignored. But still, there are some things, inherent in logic that to me, make no sense (however paradoxical this may seem).

One of the most common problems I find with logic is that, there are so many example’s of things that can have more than two plausible logical explanations.

For example: The other day a friend of mine, Ignacio, and myself went to see Will Ferrel’s “Stranger than Fiction”. The movie was great. It was interesting, it was funny and it was even smart. Once we finished the movie, we started talking about it. I said I found the movie to be “cool” because it shows you how little things in life can change the course of your life. I asked Ignacio “if you were to advance the time of your wristwatch by five minutes, how do you know that your life would not change drastically for the good or for the bad?” I further expanded this example to him, by explaining to him, in a logical fashion, the way I viewed life in general “To me it seems that life is uncaring. Life is not good. Life is not bad. Life just is. There is no such thing as a conscious aspect to life in which things happen for a reason. This is why I believe it Is very important to have a positive outlook in life. If life is uncaring, and life is basically what you make of it, then your perspective on how and why things happen is vital. If you tend to be a person of a pessimistic mentality, you will, more likely than not look at the same action as a person with an optimistic outlook in life and make a pessimistic conclusion that will, overall, make your life bitterer than the optimistic person. This is why, I believe, minor actions in life and the ways you view them are very important.” He agreed with me thus far. I mean after all, it was a logical statement (I believe). The disagreement came in my next statement, which I also believed I sated in a logical fashion:

“ Yes Ignacio, minor actions can change your life drastically, even if every action you do in life is selfish.” To this statement Ignacio asked “What are you talking about?’ I elaborated: “Whether you help a poor person by giving him money or choose to keep the money, both actions are selfish. If you give the money, It will make you feel food that you gave that person the money. If you decide not to give the poor person the money, it was because it did not make you feel good to give the person money.”

Ignacio was in deep disagreement with my reasoning, to which he argued, in what I also find to be a logical fashion: “I don’t believe that. I believe that when you give money, or do something that can be considered a selfless act, it truly is just that, a selfless act. You give the money to that person because you are a person that is morally aware of what is right and wrong, and helping a poor person in this case, is a moral obligation. Yes, feeling good is a side effect of doing a good action, but I will not give money to a poor person to make me feel good about myself? No.”

I can continue the conversation by offering the way we re-refuted our responses to each other reasoning. But I will not, for length related reasons.

My question is this: How can logic hold is stature as a source of something that makes sense, when to arguments can have the same logical structure and make equal sense. Isn’t this a flaw of logical reasoning? One would think, or at least I do, that there is only one ultimate truth in any subject. Either the universe was created by God or not, we are either selfish in the actions we do or we are not, etc. You may know the answer, but you can never be 100% it is the ultimate truth. If logic is the only way to achieve answers to such question, and two logical arguments have the same weight, there are flaws in logic, or is there not?

Logical structure != logic

All lawyers wear ties.
Bob is a lawyer.
-> Bob wears a tie.

This is a logical structure, but it isnt logical. The structure itself is sound, but one of the assumptions is false. All lawyers do not wear ties, so it doesnt work. This is a fallacious argument.

Dont mistake something that sounds like logic for real logic. You do not start a logical argument with ‘I believe’. Opinions do make good logical arguments, and thats all a belief is. You were arguing opinion with him, not making logical aguments.

As far as I see it, there’s not way to logically prove that there is any selfless act. That doesn’t make it true, that every act is selfish.

If your friend said that determinism is true, you can’t logically show it isn’t. If he says God exists, you can’t logically prove He doesn’t.

Only accepting the logically infallible argument leads you nowhere when trying to figuring out how the world or the human functions – although it might be an entertaining game of words.

Isn’t that an position taken for your intellect’s convenience’s sake, rather than a fact?

In short, you overestimate logic, or the human brain’s capacity to understand all by logical reasoning.

Regarding Logic and It’s flaws
Very logical but IT’S ITS, NOT IT IS.
(Still fighting…)

One question for you then.

For “ultimate questions” like:

Does God Exist?
Is Determinism True?
Can we be truly sefless?

Is there a “kind-of” or in between awnser to this questions?

Can you truly say “God kind of exists” or “Determinsism is kind of true”.

As I said, I believe that there is an answer to this question, but we can never be 100% we have the right answer.

My bad. Or should I say “My wrong doing”? :smack:

And the problem with these is that you must rigorously define your terms before you can even begin the logical argument. You can define god in ways in which he is contradictory, so the answer is no. You can define god in ways where the answer is unknowable.

Likewise, what does selfless mean? How about truly? We all eat food instead of letting other people have it - is that being not selfless?

Logic works on the realm where you can clearly define all premises. That’s not the real world, and philosophers through the ages have logically proven propositions which turned out to be totally wrong.

Exactly. But regardless of the way you define God, he either exists or not under that very definition.

I don’t understand your food example. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat. It makes me feel good + my body needs it. That’s straight forward.

If I am hungry and I decide to give it the food to some one else, then obviously, me giving the food to other person was more beneficial that me eating the food myself.

Also, I must add that when I say that it is impossible not to be selfish in action I have to add the word “consciously”.

If your walking in a street and hit a can without knowing it, then yes, that would be a selfless act.

However, I do not believe in conscious selfless acts.

The problem with your friends argument is that acting morally, in and of itself, is a selfish act. If you believe that giving money to a poor person is moral, you are putting the value of acting in accordance with your morals above the value of whatever you give to the poor person. You are getting a greater good for yourself from the giving away the money than you would have from keeping the money.

Now, a selfless act would be to give money to a cause that you find immoral. For example, it would be selfless for a civil rights activist to give money to the KKK.


But that example of a selfless act is absurd.

It is only true on paper , nobody would give money for something they believed to be immoral…

You have mistaken ‘logic’ with ‘sense’. Your proposition makes sense to you; it does not to your friend. You are both arguing from belief rather than from fact so you’re not operating in the realm of logic. BTW, the question of the true nature of altruism has been debated for centuries by philosophers. There isn’t a right answer because there is no objective validation of that which constitutes ‘good’.

You could try arguing the point from a semantic perspective; dictionaries tell us that to be ‘selfish’ is not the same thing as to be ‘hedonistic’. ‘Selfish’ is defined as being concerned with one’s own well-being to the exclusion of others (see It seems that most people who argue this point eliminate the bolded clause and interpret ‘selfish’ to mean ‘giving pleasure to oneself’. Assuming’s sources are the definitive authorities on the interpretation of the word, those folks haven’t a leg to stand on.

I think the problem with the OP example is not that it isn’t logic, but rather that there’s an error. You could say that either giving money allows a giver a pleasant feeling or that it doesn’t. You could say that either the pleasant feeling is a motivation or it isn’t. But you can’t say that the motivation is either to get the pleasant feeling or to help somebody, because those aren’t exclusive of one another. The pleasant feeling and the helping are not even the only possible motivations. Logic is much more work if you carefully cover all the possibilities in a complex situation like this.

AFAIK logic in the form of “predicate calculus” is flawless and produces true results if it is done according to the rules and no incorrect assumptions have not been discharged at the end. There’s a handy textbook by Boorse (sp?) on the subject, and also a board game called “WFF’n Proof” (pronounced woofenproof) that deals with “well formulated forms” of predicate calculus.

Logic is about deriving conclusions from premises. That syllogism is entirely logical. The fact that one of it’s premises (or maybe both of its premises, since I don’t know Bob myself) are false doesn’t invalidate the logic. On the other hand, that logic doesn’t prove that Bob wears a tie in and of itself… it basically just says that IF the premises are true, then Bob wears a tie. We’d need to observe the real world ourselves and agree on whether the premises are true or not.

Of course, with the right premises established, logic can be a powerful engine for figuring out useful conclusions from the information that you’ve got. On the other hand, most things that logic can figure out without requiring any premises, and information about the world, sound completely useless. Those are tautologies. “It will either rain tomorrow or it won’t.” “If Bill has a brother, then Bill’s brother has a brother named Bill.” Those are examples of tautological statements, that can be logically proved without any assumed premises.

I think it was Isaac Asimov that said there is only one logical paradox, and that is free will.
He is convinced that everything that happens is already in motion, down to the atomic level of your brain synapses. Those atoms are going to cross or not cross based on physics. The decision inexorably follows. But if there is no chance of a different future, why does it seem like we have choices? And if we agree with him that the future is predetermined, does that matter, since it seems not to.