Logic vs Reasoning; Differences and Similarities

Logic and reasoning are both mental skills that help us think critically and rationally. However, they are not exactly the same thing. Logic is a set of formal rules or standards that guide proper reasoning, while reasoning is the process of drawing inferences or conclusions from given information. Logic can be seen as a science that tests the validity and soundness of reasoning, while reasoning can be seen as a mindset or thought process that can be influenced by personal opinions, emotions, or biases.

One way to understand the difference between logic and reasoning is to compare them with mathematics and arithmetic. Mathematics is a system of abstract concepts and principles that can be applied to various problems and situations. Arithmetic is a branch of mathematics that deals with basic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Similarly, logic is a system of abstract concepts and principles that can be applied to various forms of reasoning. Reasoning is a branch of logic that deals with specific operations like deduction, induction, abduction, etc.

Another way to understand the difference between logic and reasoning is to consider an example. Suppose you have two statements: (1) All dogs are mammals; (2) Fido is a dog. From these statements, you can use deductive reasoning to infer a conclusion: (3) Fido is a mammal. This conclusion follows necessarily from the premises by applying a logical rule called modus ponens. However, suppose you have another statement: (4) Fido likes bones. From this statement, you cannot use deductive reasoning to infer anything about Fido’s nature or category. You can only use inductive or abductive reasoning to make probable or plausible guesses based on your observations or background knowledge.

Logic and reasoning are different, but they are also related and complementary. Logic provides the framework and criteria for evaluating reasoning and ensuring its consistency and coherence. Reasoning provides the content and context for applying logic and generating new knowledge. Logic without reasoning would be empty and abstract; reasoning without logic would be chaotic and unreliable.

Therefore, logic versus reasoning is not an either-or choice but rather a both-and necessity. To think well, we need both logic and reason: logic to guide our reason; reason to inform our logic.

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