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Logical reasoning cannot be objectively measured


Kriminal99
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Various institutions claim to be able to measure logical reasoning ability.

 

The way they attempt to do this is to compare your actions to commonly accepted "standards" of logical reasoning. There are two problems with this.

 

Firstly it is not possible to apply these standards in a way that does not depend on the readers understanding of the argument in question.

 

Second, anyone who does not follow these "standards" does so because they do not agree with them. Thus the testers are assuming basically "We are right and everyone else is wrong". This is ignorant behavior and has been recognized to be so since ancient times. They will try and tell you that the standards are separate from the argument itself, which they can be. However, they are an argument in of themselves which can be biased and that people can disagree with.

 

Subjective application of the "Standards"

 

Consider that every reader of an argument has a different starting point. If a reader does not already understand a concept that the argument relates to, such as capitalism, then the reader may conclude that it is a bad argument since the writer does not explain some implication he made that can be interpreted by anyone with an understanding of capitalism. The reader will then interpret this as violations of the "standards" of logical reasoning.

 

If in this case the writer identifies "capitalism" as a prerequisite, it really doesn't help and it in other cases it might not be possible to identify the prerequisite subject. Since all references to capitalism in the writing don't necessarily identify themselves as such, a person might think a particular paragraph doesn't relate to the capitalism requirement when it really does. They may also think they understand capitalism, but they do not understand the part of that subject that is referenced in the argument.

 

As mentioned in other cases there may be something the writer understands that is not a well known subject but that the writer may have forgotten was not common knowledge. Or he may have expected the reader to understand it anyways for other reasons. Thus, this subject cannot be identified as a prerequisite because it has no well-known name. The reader will simply misinterpret the writing as poorly connected, when in fact the reader's own ignorance is at fault.

 

If an average level of understanding could be decided upon, then we could simply hold the writer to the standard of assuming that average level of understanding and moving from there. But in reality the amount of variance makes any such measure useless. One person may understand a lot about subject X, but misinterpret any arguments referencing subject Y. The next person may do the exact opposite.

 

Similarly, the readers own logical ability also comes into play. A person with poor reasoning ability will interpret an argument as having a gap in reasoning. A gap in reasoning, that a smarter reader could easily bridge.

 

If a writer caters to the reader with the lowest reasoning ability and knowledge, then any argument would be much greater in size than such an argument designed to cater to the average in all fields of knowledge and reasoning.

 

Thus, a one size fits all argument simply is not possible, and no person can judge the logical ability of a writer based on reading one of his arguments because the argument may simply not "fit" the reader.

 

Biased Standards

 

As another example, consider the academic world. In capitalist environments we have created the concept of "intellectual property" to reward people who find ways to communicate or use ideas to benefit others. This does not necessarily mean that a single person is truly responsible or is the sole creator of an idea. In truth all ideas are really properties of the physical world... because the physical world inspires people to have them.

 

An academic environment may have misinterpreted this concept of intellectual property to mean that a person is somehow responsible for such ideas. Academics may receive poor compensation and look to recognition as a substitute. Thus everyone in an academic environment may attach quoting conventions that are irrelevant to logical reasoning or the ability to communicate onto their "standards" for logical reasoning. They might do this so anyone who is to be recognized in their environment must support their "standards" and thus a system of intellectuals patting each other on the back and paying respects to older intellectuals is perpetuated.

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