Hidden flaws of logical arguments

It is quite easy to state that an argument is a series of statements (premises) that are logically connected to support a final claim, when applied to areas of knowledge that are robust, such as maths, this definition of an argument is valid. But, somewhat like the natural sciences, when applied to the real world where humans become are variables things get blurry.

When humans are a variable so is their bias, this becomes confusing because when they make arguments they can distort the premise to be ‘true’ just based on their own judgment and paradigm, this is called self- confirmation bias, because humans don’t tend to go through each logical step of their argument but instead jump from the beginning to the end and the logical statements that are supposed to thread their argument become assumptions instead that are only ‘justified’ in their head, because they assume and believe them to be true. It might be the case that people avoid going through each statement in their head because they know if they do, they would end up finding out that their argument is not robust, or it is just that they are too clouded with their own prejudice that they don’t realise the assumptions they are making.

I think it is also interesting to look at where we come up with our logic and arguments. We know that if we want to end up with an argument that is undeniable wrong, we must start with the truth and follow a valid process of reasoning to end up with a true and valid argument. This is a limit in some ways because it means that we can not create truth, but only preserve it. (side note: I don’t think we ever create truth, but more discover the truth, right?). But when looking at the human sciences, for example, historians often have opposing views on the cause of wars, but their arguments are always valid but based on subjective truths. For example historian, Sir Richard J Evans believes that Serbia started WW1 whereas Dr. Annika Mombauer believes that it was Austro- Hungary and Germany’s fault, that they choose to start the war. These are valid arguments in hindsight, but just after the war got over historians from Germany were biased to argue that it was not their fault, and similarly, the historians from Allie countries believed that it was Germany’s fault. So from then and now, historians are still biased, from their paradigms, their passions, and inclinations, and in this case, because the start of WWI was so ambiguous the ‘truth’ can be twisted to create multiple valid arguments.



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One Comment

  1. Nicholas Alchin Reply

    Thanks Aarushi.

    – do we create or discover truth? Well, depends on your meaning of truth. If you take the simplest view of TRUTH as objective, eternal etc then it would need to be discovered. But if truth is subjective, and changeable, then it can be invented, right? So perhaps it depends on your area of knowledge (the east position is that we invent art truths and discover maths truths for example).
    -more generally, while I do not disagree with anything here, you have not really done what the task was; which was to look at specific cognitive biases from a wikipedia page. Not a disaster, but please do look closely at the tasks in future 🙂


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