In philosophy, the study of reasoning typically focuses on what makes reasoning efficient or inefficient, appropriate or inappropriate, good or bad. Philosophers do this by either examining the form or structure of the reasoning within arguments, or by considering the broader methods used to reach particular goals of reasoning. Psychologists and cognitive scientists, in contrast, tend to study how people reason, which cognitive and neural processes are engaged, how cultural factors affect the inferences people draw. The properties of logics which may be used to reason are studied in mathematical logic. The field of automated reasoning studies how reasoning may be modelled computationally. Laywers also study reasoning.
During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Babylonian astronomers began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems, which was an important contribution to logic and the philosophy of science. Babylonian thought had a considerable influence on early Greek thought.
According to David Furley, "the basis of [Xenophanes'] criticism appears to have been that he saw an inconsistency between the concept of god as something different from man, and the stories told about the gods, which made them behave as men do. In the same period, other Greek thinkers began to develop theories about the nature of the world that suggest that they believed that there were regularities in nature and that humans could use reasoning to develop a consistent story about the nature of the world. Thales of Miletus, c. 624 BC – c. 546 BC, proposed that all is water. Anaximenes of Miletus, c. 585 BC – c. 525 BC, claimed that air is the source of everything.
Aristotle is, so far as we know, the first writer to give an extended, systematic treatment of the methods of human reasoning. He identified two major methods of reasoning, analysis and synthesis. In the first, we try to understand an object by looking at its component parts. In the second, we try to understand a class of objects by looking at the common properties of each object in that class.
Aristotle developed what is known as syllogistic logic, which makes it possible to analyse reasoning in a way that ignores the content of the argument and focuses on the form or structure of the argument. In the Prior Analytics, Aristotle begins by pointing out that:
For a time after Muhammad's death, Islamic law placed importance on formulating standards of argument, which gave rise to a novel approach to logic in Kalam, but this approach was later influenced by ideas from Greek philosophy and Hellenistic philosophy with the rise of the Mu'tazili philosophers, who highly valued Aristotle's Organon. The works of Hellenistic-influenced Islamic philosophers were crucial in the reception of Aristotelian logic in medieval Europe, along with the commentaries on the Organon by Averroes. The works of al-Farabi, Avicenna, al-Ghazali and other Muslim logicians who often criticized and corrected Aristotelian logic and introduced their own forms of logic, also played a central role in the subsequent development of medieval European logic.
Islamic logic not only included the study of formal patterns of inference and their validity but also elements of the philosophy of language and elements of epistemology and metaphysics. Due to disputes with Arabic grammarians, Islamic philosophers were very interested in working out the relationship between logic and language, and they devoted much discussion to the question of the subject matter and aims of logic in relation to reasoning and speech. In the area of formal logical analysis, they elaborated upon the theory of terms, propositions and syllogisms. They considered the syllogism to be the form to which all rational argumentation could be reduced, and they regarded syllogistic theory as the focal point of logic. Even poetics was considered as a syllogistic art in some fashion by many major Islamic logicians.
Important developments made by Muslim logicians included the development of "Avicennian logic" as a replacement of Aristotelian logic. Avicenna's system of logic was responsible for the introduction of hypothetical syllogism, temporal modal logic, and inductive logic. Other important developments in Islamic philosophy include the development of a strict science of citation, the isnad or "backing", and the development of a scientific method of open inquiry to disprove claims, the ijtihad, which could be generally applied to many types of questions.
One approach to the study of reasoning is to identify various forms of reasoning that may be used to support or justify conclusions. The main division between forms of reasoning that is made in philosophy is between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. Formal logic has been described as 'the science of deduction'. The study of inductive reasoning is generally carried out within the field known as informal logic or critical thinking.
Deductive arguments are intended to have reasoning that is valid. Reasoning in an argument is valid if the argument's conclusion must be true when the premises (the reasons given to support that conclusion) are true. One classic example of deductive reasoning is that found in syllogisms like the following:
Validity is a property of the reasoning in the argument, not a property of the premises in the argument or the argument as a whole. In fact, the truth or falsity of the premises and the conclusion is irrelevant to the validity of the reasoning in the argument. The following argument, with a false premise and a false conclusion, is also valid, (it has the form of reasoning known as modus ponens).
In a deductive argument with valid reasoning the conclusion contains no more information than is contained in the premises. Therefore, deductive reasoning does not increase one's knowledge base, and so is said to be non-ampliative.
Within the field of formal logic, a variety of different forms of deductive reasoning have been developed. These involve abstract reasoning using symbols, logical operators and a set of rules that specify what processes may be followed to arrive at a conclusion. These forms of reasoning include Aristotelian logic, also known as syllogistic logic, propositional logic, predicate logic, and modal logic.
Inductive reasoning contrasts strongly with deductive reasoning. Even in the best, or strongest, cases of inductive reasoning, the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion. Instead, the conclusion of an inductive argument follows with some degree of probability. Relatedly, the conclusion of an inductive argument contains more information than is already contained in the premises. Thus, this method of reasoning is ampliative.
Abductive reasoning, or argument to the best explanation, often involves both inductive and deductive arguments. However, as the conclusion in an abductive argument does not follow with certainty from its premises it is best thought of as a form of inductive reasoning. What separates abduction from the other forms of reasoning is an attempt to favor one conclusion above others, by attempting to falsify alternative explanations or by demonstrating the likelihood of the favored conclusion, given a set of more or less disputable assumptions.
Reasoning by analogy goes from one particular thing, or category, to another particular thing, or category. As with other forms of inductive argument, even the best reasoning in an argument from analogy can only make the conclusion probable given the truth of the premises, not certain.
Analogical reasoning is very frequent in common sense, science, philosophy and the humanities, but sometimes it is accepted only as an auxiliary method. A refined approach is case-based reasoning. For more information on inferences by analogy, see Juthe, 2005
An argument can be valid, that is, contain no formal reasoning fallacies, and yet still contain an informal fallacy. The clearest examples of this occur when an argument contains circular reasoning, also known as begging the question.
In artificial intelligence, philosophers and scientists study reasoning and machines, and consider such questions as whether a machine can properly be considered to reason or think, and, relatedly, what would count as a test for reasoning. (See, for example, the Turing test.)
Thorne McCarty did pioneering early work in the mechanization of legal reasoning for taxation using Micro Planner. More recent work on the formalization and mechanization of legal reasoning can be found in the proceedings of the International Conferences on Artificial Intelligence and Law ( most recently at Stanford in June 2007).
Dialectical practice in Tibetan philosophical culture; an ethnomethodological inquiry into formal reasoning. (pbk. reprint, 2004).(Brief Article)(Book Review)
Feb 01, 2008; 9780742556126 Dialectical practice in Tibetan philosophical culture; an ethnomethodological inquiry into formal reasoning. (pbk....