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Language, Proof, and Logic
JON BARWISE & JOHN ETCHEMENDY. 1999. What do the fields of astronomy, economics, finance, law, mathematics, medicine, physics, and sociology have in common? In each of these fields, it is assumed that the participants can differentiate between rational argumentation based on assumed principles or evidence, and wild speculation or nonsequiturs, claims that in no way follow from the assumptions. In other words, these fields all presuppose an underlying acceptance of basic principles of logic. For that matter, all rational inquiry depends on logic, on the ability of people to reason correctly most of the time, and, when they fail to reason correctly, on the ability of others to point out the gaps in their reasoning. While people may not all agree on a whole lot, they do seem to be able to agree on what can legitimately be concluded from given information. Acceptance of these commonly held principles of rationality is what differentiates rational inquiry from other forms of human activity. Just what are the principles of rationality presupposed by these disciplines? And what are the techniques by which we can distinguish correct or “valid” reasoning from incorrect or “invalid” reasoning? More basically, what is it that makes one claim “follow logically” from some given information, while some other claim does not? This book is intended to introduce you to some of the most important concepts and tools of logic. Our goal is to provide detailed and systematic answers to the questions raised above.
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