In logic, an “argument” is not a spat or a fight that you might have with your spouse or with a sibling. A logical argument consists of making a claim (conclusion) that something is true or correct and then seeking to support that claim with facts, reasons, or evidence (premises). In effect, an argument in logic is a “supported opinion.”

As we noted in part one, the study of logic doesn’t actually teach a person to think—people do that naturally and intuitively. Rather, instruction in logic teaches a person to think in an organized and conscientious manner.

Logic can be defined as “the rules of correct reasoning.” Following these precepts helps a person to order their thinking consistently so they can arrive at truthful, rational conclusions. And as we saw in the previous article, logic can help a person arrive at a rational destination—letting one analogously think of the rules of logic as a type of GPS or navigational system that guides one’s thought.

A Rational Navigational System

Here I offer three more ways that logic’s system of organization can serve to guide one’s path and thus help a person arrive at a reasonable destination. The following points specifically reflect logic’s ability to order and discipline a person’s thinking.

#4: Beware of Preference

There seems to be a tendency in human beings to draw the logical conclusion that a person prefers to be true. When it comes to evaluating arguments for reasonableness and explanatory power, preference tends to weigh heavily in one’s final assessment. Preference can even at times trump solid evidence that points to the truth of an alternative conclusion. Conscientious students of logic should attempt to be aware of the potential bias of preference, and instead remain objective in one’s reasoning and give rational factors appropriate priority.

#5: Check Your Emotion

It is easy to feel passionate about the central point of one’s argument—especially when an opponent feels equally passionate about a different or opposite point. But strong emotions, while a normal part of being human, can indeed color one’s logical analysis. Though it may not be easy to engage in a dispassionate analysis of one’s deeply held conclusion, it is important to try. Emotion can be so strong that it can limit one’s ability to examine ideas and issues analytically. While one can appreciate the place of genuine emotion, one must still try to keep one’s emotions in check during logical exchanges so that they don’t become a negative factor in the reasoning process.

#6: Acknowledge Your Assumptions

When it comes to the reasoning process, no one stands in a completely neutral position without assumptions. Since logic is about proving (or verifying) things through the use of arguments, unwarranted presumption can be a big problem. The truth of an argument’s conclusion shouldn’t be presumed without justification. Rather, one should seek to acknowledge and to properly justify their presuppositions, and then offer evidence, facts, or reasons to support the conclusion being drawn.

The study of logic helps a person order their thinking and, thus, arrive at reasonable and truthful conclusions. In this way logic’s power to properly organize serves as a type of navigational system to keep a person on the path to a rational, truthful destination.

Reflections: Your Turn 

How does your understanding of logical rules influence your thinking and speaking? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Subjects: Critical Thinking, Life of the Mind

Check out more from Kenneth Sample  @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



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