The belief that logic should have a normative role is one that has received considerable challenges from a number of influential individuals. Among the most prominent of these is Gilbert Harman, who suggests that the idea that logic has a normative role is one that is essentially based on confusion. This is especially the case considering that the challenge that Harman makes is one that is rooted on the belief that individuals are capable of advancing situations where they are unable to effectively determine their stance and believe that they are correct despite the fact that they might actually have come to the wrong conclusions. Harman proposes that there is a need to consider that individuals tend to operate in a way that when it comes to considering the normative role of logic, they essentially bring together two very different aspects. These aspects tend to be quite apart and this promotes a situation where there is need to make sure that there is the development of a scenario that promotes the expansion of knowledge concerning logic. The two aspects that Harman concentrates on, namely logic and its connection to the theory of reasoning, are based on the formulation of the theory of deductive logic, and that of the theory of reasoning, both of which will be discussed in this paper.
One of the most significant arguments that can be made concerning Harman’s stance is that he essentially professes the idea that there is a difference between the logical notion of implication and the way that it can be inferred methodically. This is to such an extent that when implication and inference are viewed as separate notions, it brings about a situation where there is need to consider the naivety of these notions (Harman, 1984). This is especially considering that there are instances where individuals, rather than considering the differences between these aspects of logic, end up in situations where there is little that can be done to bring about an accurate an understanding of ideas. There are instances where inferences tend to be promoted as logic and this creates a scenario where logic ends up being looked at in a confused manner. If valid implications are not the primary norms that can be sued in the case of inference, it leads to a failure in the provision of rational norms that can be used for the development of inferences. Instead, there is an attempt to make sure that there is the revision of those canons that make up logic. Therefore, it is necessary to make sure that there are attempts aimed at bringing about the advancement of means through which there can be the separation of logical notions such as implication and inferences.
The values of this separation cannot be underestimated and it has to be conducted in a way that puts into consideration the need to show the considerable aspects such as the nature of logic or the role that it can play when it is considered normatively. Harman essentially advances the idea that it is necessary for individuals to explain the various aspects of logic, because merely stating something as being logical does not necessarily means that it should be believed (Harman, 2009). Moreover, there is need to consider that just because an idea is logical does not mean that logic is an essential aspect of reasoning and that there are instances where reasoning can take place without the need for reason. There is the advancement of the need to ensure the idea that reasoning is a more important aspect of human interaction than logic because it is through the former that the latter comes about. Thus, logic is not as relevant to reasoning as is usually assumed because under such circumstances, it becomes necessary to make sure that there is the promotion of the idea that logic is an essential aspect of the reasoning process. However, because reasoning is an entirely independent process, logic can be considered to be a means through which individuals seek to make sense of the world around them.
Additionally, a theory of reasoning is one that can be seen as a normative narrative concerning the way that individuals often undertake to make sure that there is the formulation, revision, and maintenance of their beliefs. This is especially the case when it comes to the development of an understanding of the way that individuals end up deciding which of their actions are right or wrong. Furthermore, the aim of this theory is to make sure that there is the formulation of general guidelines concerning the mental actions that they need to perform in order to bring about the best results under certain circumstances, and which beliefs that they can be able to adopt or leave behind, depending of the situation in which they find themselves. This theory is therefore one that essentially promotes the development of an understanding of the dynamic events and processes, which can be considered to be able to constitute reason from a psychological level. Harman contrasts this situation with one where the individual is faced with the idea that logic has to do with those non-psychological aspects which have an impact on the way that they make decisions concerning what to believe. A consequence of this situation is that logical rules might not be influential in the way that beliefs or any other form of reasoning come about. Instead, reasoning comes about on its own accord, meaning that individuals have to make sure that there is the advancement of the disassociation between logic and reasoning. The establishment of this way of thinking can help in bringing about a greater understanding of the workings of the mind because there will be a proper separation between the aspects of logic and reasoning that end up leading to a lot of confusion. The confusion comes about because logic and reasoning are often interchanged despite these aspects of the mind being completely different from one another.
Once this confusion has been removed from the way that individuals think, it becomes possible to make sure that there is the recognition of the inability of the distance between logic and reasoning to be bridged (MacFarlane, 2004). This way of Harman’s reasoning might be challenged through the way that he sets up the case that he makes use of to justify his proposal. An argument can be made that there is actually no confusion between the theory of reasoning and the identification of deductive logic. Instead, logic essentially has an important normative role to play when it comes to reasoning, and any consideration of confusion between these aspects is essentially quite narrow. A result is that the proponents of the manner through which belief revision take place may feel that Harman’s argument is based on a failure to consider that there are actually more sophisticated logical tools that can be used to bring about a connection between logic and reasoning. These logical tools can actually put into consideration the fact that individuals tend to have beliefs which are essential to their way of thinking. The different mental states of individuals show that logic has a powerful normative role in reasoning and this is because individuals tend to have different ways of thinking. Thus, what one individual might consider to be logical might not be the case with another. However, despite these differences, logic still remains a prominent aspect of reasoning because it ensures that there is the advancement of ideas that individuals make use of to better understand the world around them and adapt to it. Harman’s argument is one that promotes a situation where logic and reasoning are not connected, but this fails to consider that logic plays a very important role in the mental states of individuals. Thus, when individuals operate within a scenario where they go out of the norm, they are considered to be reasoning illogically, and there are questions concerning their mental state.
There are also instances where there is an attempt to capture the various characters of reasoning where beliefs are not only accumulated, but are also susceptible to revision. Harman’s stance under such a circumstance is that these formalisms essentially rely heavily on assumptions that are mistaken concerning the normative role that logic has to play (Steinberger, 2017). In addition, he promotes the idea that there are instances where their assumptions might fall short in other ways; a sign that he considers logic and reason not to belong together, but are rather separate entities which have to be treated as such because they cannot be bridged. Thus, even when one does not agree with Harman, he raises a very pertinent point because the formal models that are made use of in the formation and revision of beliefs tend to forestall the need to ensure that there is a consideration of the normativity of logic through its being provided a philosophical account. The enforcement of the normative role of logic tends to rely too heavily on assumptions that are not grounded on solid reasoning. Instead, these assumptions end up leading to a situation where there is a reduction in the capability of individuals to come to terms with the differences between logic and the role that it plays in reasoning. The normative role of logic is one that can be better understood under circumstances where there is the reduction of assumptions concerning it, but rather the development of a situation where there is the creation of a situation where it becomes possible to look at it without the veneer of presuppositions that have come to surround it. The achievement of this goal could go a long way towards proving Harman’s stance that the normative role of logic is based on assumptions that cannot be verified and have to be considered to be a part from reasoning.
It is essential to note that in some other aspects, some philosophers can end up questioning the manner through which Harman develops his concept of the theory of reasoning. This is because Harman is of the belief that the goal of epistemology is to ensure that it has a close relationship with his concept of the theory of logical thinking . Under such circumstances, it becomes essential to make sure that there is the creation of a situation where there is a view of justification that is viewed from the first-person point of view. The general conservatism, in this case, is one that offers a principle that can be made use of to ensure that a person is given advice that he can accept. This assumption promotes the idea that there is the need to put into consideration the needs of the individual, and the way that they think in order to come up with an idea concerning their use of logic. It is a direct challenge to Harman’s way of thinking because he works on the assumption that logic and reasoning are not connected and have to be viewed differently. Individuals think very differently from one another and because of this, they make use of a diversity of logics which can be considered essential in the advancement of their reasoning capacity. That Harman promotes the idea of general conservatism in his argument for the theory of reasoning can be challenged because it involves a failure to consider the connection between independent and interrelated thoughts that individuals tend to have. Individuals are not only influenced by the way that they reason at a personal level, they are also influenced by their own societies, and this in such a way that they end up displaying a capacity of thought and the use of logic that is independent of the assumptions that Harman suggests.
The approach made by Harman is one that, despite the epistemic advice, is primarily aimed at making sure that there is a highlighting of the necessary and sufficient conditions that can help in providing a level of epistemic justification. Harman’s scepticism is essentially based on some concepts of logic and the methodology that is used using the epistemological approach, which can be put to question. A result of this situation is that Harman ends up creating arguments concerning the manner through which the concept of logic can be applied from the epistemological point of view. He makes an analysis of the way that individuals in society tend to develop very different understandings concerning the way that logic works. He is a proponent of the concept of intentionalism, and this is based on his belief that there is not phenomenal difference between experiential states without there being a difference that is intentional. Because of these circumstances, it becomes essential to make sure that Harman’s concept is understood individually and this is in such a way that they are viewed through their representational or intentional character. The perceptual experience is one that should not be considered to be individuated through its qualitative character, but should be considered through the way that it is sustained through the experience that has occurred. It therefore becomes necessary to make sure that there is the advancement of the idea that the experiential state is one that is representational in character and this is in such a way that ensures that there is a better understanding of the way that the experiences of individuals end up affecting the way that they think. The transparency of the experience is what brings about its perceptual character because the latter is not individuated. The result is that meditation does not seem to show the true nature of experiences, and only shows their external characteristics.
Harman’s assumptions concerning the nature of deductive logic and epistemology can be supported through its further development. This process is one that seeks to promote a situation where there is an attempt to show the manner through which there is a regulatory relationship between these two concepts. The conclusion made by Harman that the theories of logic and deductive reasoning are different means that there is a regulatory link between them and this is in such a way that promotes a connection between them. Therefore, it is essential to promote the idea that theoretical reasoning is aimed at making sure that there is an accurate description of the world. This is because there is the development of an accurate representation of the world in a manner that makes use of as much knowledge as possible. There is also a conscious attempt to make sure that there is an avoidance of the use of falsehoods in reasoning out the world. These circumstances make it essential to make sure that there is the creation of a logical connection between the various states that make up the theory of reasoning.
The knowledge of the logical relationships between these states ensures that there is the promotion of theoretical thinking. This is especially the case when it comes to the logical concepts of coherence, which ends up seeming to be relevant. If an individual really believes in something, the truth of that faith ends up changing to its logical consequences. If that faith is not true, there the logical conclusion of such a situation is that it cannot be true. Moreover, in a situation where the set of proposals that an individual believes in are contradictory, these proposals end up not presenting an accurate explanation of the world, because at least one of those beliefs has to be wrong. Harman’s scepticism is one that questions the role that logic can play in in argumentation. It shows that the principles of logic tend to be related to a manner of thought that does not follow the same principles as that of other sciences.
We can do it today.
In conclusion, since Harman makes an identification of the diverse problems that occur in the naïve view of the world according to the classic logic which provides an infallible norm for reasoning. The connection that has been made traditionally between logic and reason is quite pertinent because it ensures that there is a better understanding between the assumptions that have been made and their realities. Under such circumstances, any attempt to make a formulation of a principle that connects the logical principles with the rules that govern reasoning ends up being considered pointless because it becomes necessary to create solutions to problems as preventing inconsistencies. Therefore, the pertinence of Harman’s argument that logic has no special normative role in reasoning is one that has to be considered essential for the advancement of a better understanding of the concept of logic.
- Harman, G., 1984. Logic and reasonin. Synthese, 60(1), 107-127.
- Harman, G., 2009. Field on the normative role of logic. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Aristotelian society.
- MacFarlane, J., 2004. In what sense (if any) is logic normative for thought. Unpublished manuscript.
- Steinberger, F., 2017. The normative status of logic. The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, spring.