What We Talk About When We Talk About Logic as Normative for Reasoning?

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Ines Skelac

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: logical laws; normativity of logic; reasoning; thinking

In this paper it is examined how, if at all, logical laws can be normative for human reasoning, wherein the notion of normativity is analysed with respect to approaches to logic given in works of Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Frege and Wittgenstein. During the ancient and medieval period, logic was being considered in terms of discourse and dialogical practice, but since Descartes and especially Kant it has been treated as a system of laws with which the process of individual human reasoning has been compared. Therefore, normativity can be investigated in private sphere (for thinking and reasoning) and in public sphere (for dialogic practices in a community). Wittgenstein discussed both aspects of normativity: in Tractatus, a focus is on laws of logic that are primarily normative for the state of affairs in the world, while in Philosophical Investigations an emphasis is on a social aspect of normativity (which is closer to Aristotle’s view), which is derived from adopted rules that have been applied in a certain community. Taken that way, logic is certainly normative in the public sphere, but the more difficult issue is whether logic is normative for thinking, regarding to the difference between the logical laws and those of thought.


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