Deductive Reasoning

  • What is the process of deductive reasoning used to come to the conclusion?

Usually deductive reasoning is logical, in that pieces of information are put together to come to a conclusion. One example would be syllogisms, where two axioms are known to be true, and based on those two axioms, a third thing must be true. It starts out more general and becomes more specific, e.g. all men are mortal, I am a man, therefore I am mortal. Broad axioms can lead to logical conclusions.

  • What issues are there?

One example of such logical and deductive reasoning that I particularly enjoy is Plato’s definition of man as a ‘featherless biped’. The axioms this conclusion is based off are very true; man has no feathers, and man walks on two feet. However, as Diogenes points out, based on that logic, a plucked chicken is also a man. However, it is technically true, that man is a featherless biped (for the most part). Therefore, neither of the axioms is incorrect, and the conclusion is not incorrect either, but the conclusion can be misleading and therefore lead to a sort of half-truth.

In addition to logic not always being perfect when the axioms are correct and the system of thinking is correct, logic can be based off of flawed axioms. If axioms are broad generalizations, or just plain wrong, this can lead to a serious problem, as the conclusion will not be true. This can be seen in the St. Louis court case. The people condemning the judge are basing their judgement off of generalized axioms, which aren’t necessarily false in this scenario, and the Judge himself may have based his judgement off of his prior belief that “an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly”. Naturally in this case, urban can be construed to mean black, and therefore that axiom could be considered racism and therefore a bias rather than an actual fact.

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