Talk:Chains of Reason

Latest comment: 16 years ago by Derrick in topic Chains of Reason - Developmental beginnings

Reasoning doesn't follow a chain, and most beliefs are not based on logical reasoning edit

Two points:

  1. Reasoning doesn't follow a chain, it follows a tree. Each link generally goes from multiple premises to one conclusion, not one premise to one conclusion. The idea can be adapted to take that into account, though.
  2. Most "moral, political, scientific, religious, or whatever" beliefs are not based on logical reasoning, they are based on emotional ideologies. The only exception is science, and the scientific method doesn't really lend itself to chains of reasoning - the reasoning is simply "This theory fits our observations, so it's a good theory.".

--Tango 13:41, 27 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for your points Tango.
Re point one, you're of course right that, because any argument involves multiple premises, and each premise must in turn be the conclusion of two separate arguments, then reasoning is constantly branching. However, I think the term 'chain of reason' is still appropriate because reasoning on the site is broken-down into a linear series of connected arguments, or baby steps, instead of just one big leap (apologies for the mixed metaphors). That is, only one of the two premises in each link is the product of the previous argument (except of course in the case of the first link). However, a web link can be added after the other premise to a chain which has it as its main conclusion.
Re point two, I would disagree - could you give me an example of a belief which you don't believe is based on logical reasoning, and I'll try to show you what I mean. Emotional reasoning is still reasoning, however unsound it may be. As for scientific reasoning, there is a chain on the demo site for the reasoning behind the belief that life on Earth evolved by natural selection (or at least one version of it), and it does not simply consist of "This theory fits our observations, so it's a good theory.", but is a chain consisting of five links. And I don't see any reason why any other scientific reasoning could not similarly be presented.
-- Derrick 19:34, 27 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"There is a god." is the easiest example. It's a belief based on faith, not on reason. Reasoning is, by definition, logical. Basing decisions on emotion is not a form of reasoning. I'll go look at the example you mention. --Tango 21:20, 27 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've just looked at the example you mention. Link 5, premise 2 starts "According to the theory of evolution". The whole point of the chain is trying to prove evolution. You can't assume the thing you're trying to prove, that's complete nonsense. --Tango 21:24, 27 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are actually many arguments for the existence of god - including the 'design argument', as I tried to present in chain 5. No one is born holding any beliefs, therefore everyone must at some point have made a conscious decision to hold each of the beliefs which they hold. And any decision must, by definition, be the product of a decision-making process, and any decision-making process is a form of reasoning, however emotional. If you give me an example of a decision based on emotion, explaining why it is based on emotion, then I'll show you what I mean.
Link 5 of chain 3 is not circular, because the second premise is merely stating what the theory of evolution by natural selection is, and is not stating, as the conclusion states, that life on Earth did come about as described in that theory. To merely state what a theory is, is not to state that it is true theory. Derrick 06:44, 28 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess we have differing definitions of "reason". By my understanding (and I haven't looked it up), "reason" requires it be logical.
In which case, it's more a definition than a premise (although, I'll admit, definitions can be considered a type of premise). You haven't defined anything else in your claims, so why define natural selection? --Tango 17:58, 28 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The term 'reason', in this context, refers to the logic performed by a brain/mind (although another, closely related, definition is the power of the brain/mind to perform logic). So I would agree that reason is logical, although I don't see why this is inconsistent with what I've said previously.
Premises can be statements of any kind, including definitions. However, I didn't say that premise 2 is a definition, but that it is a statement of what a particular theory claims. Also, even if it was a definition, I don't see why the lack of other definitions in the chain is significant. Some chains will have no premises which are definitions, some will have one such premise, some will have two, some will have three, and so on. Derrick 11:08, 29 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In mathematics, definitions (attaching names to specific classes of objects) are premises of reasoning, as are axioms (basic assumptions building the foundation of a certain theory). The point about either is that, they are arbitrary. You can easily build theory upon axiom A today, and expand another theory based on (not A) tomorrow. In Mathematics, that is. Applicability for either theory may differ, in practical life, which is nothing a mathematician will be concerned with. Often, applications for mathematical theories have been found centuries after their development.
Not many sciences are as simple and easy as mathematics are. Quite a few are strictly based on belief, not axioms. Theologies, e.g. are firmly based upon the truth of one or another or several holy scriptures. The Wirtschaftswissenschaft is built upon the necessity, that their reality cannot be measured but by normal distribution, if something else is observed, the method of observation was not scientifically correct. Unlike mathematics, these belief based sciences do not consider any reality outside.
Reasoning imho can of course be based on emotion. This does not invalidate the idea of 'chains or reasoning'. Clarification puts up the need to state where which emotion comes in, and what the outcome is. That surely allows other chains of reasoning to come to the the same conclusion(s) starting with the same premises, and follow an emotionless path.
--Purodha Blissenbach 02:24, 8 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks Purodha. :) --Derrick 18:47, 8 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can't work edit

Please read :

Chains of reason like depend on their validity on the meanings of the terms and the meaning provided by the structure of the sentence. You need a foundation that defines the terms and a predicate calculus that calculates the truth value of the statements. Otherwise it is all just a bunch of handwaving assertions. You can find that in any bar. 19:26, 27 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for your points. However, the validity of any argument, however presented, obviously depends on the meanings of the terms used and on the grammatical rules being followed, so I don't see the purpose of that part of your comment. The site does have a foundation that defines terms: the dictionary. As for predicate calculus, the purpose of the site is not to present reasoning with the level of rigour of formal logic, any more than the reasoning presented in academic writings is presented with that level of rigour. The purpose of the site is to present reasoning in a way that helps maximise clarity. Derrick 19:58, 27 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Disputed claims edit

Almost all (if not all) of the claims your try and prove are things that people dispute. If they were based on pure logic, they wouldn't be disputed. For example, no-one disputes the fact that the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, since it's based on pure logic and is indisputable. Plenty of people dispute the existence of God, for example - in fact, you have claims for both sides of the argument. They are obviously contradictory, so cannot both be based on pure logic. The decisions that humans make are generally based on values. Logic determines how to make a decision given a particular value system, but there is no universal value system, so there is no universal logic for anything beyond mathematics. Unless you start all your claims with a list of values, the reasoning is always going to be flawed. --Tango 21:30, 27 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for your feedback Tango. It's actually not true that logic always produces true statements. Logic is still logic even if it is flawed logic. Unsound reasoning is still reasoning. It is not an oxymoron to say, as people sometimes do, 'I think you're using flawed logic.' Therefore, two pieces of logic can produce contradictory statements - it just means that either, or both, pieces of logic must be unsound logic.
Also, while there is indeed no universal value system, that is not a problem for Chains of Reason, because users can base chains on whatever premises they wish. So the reasoning won't always be flawed, because any values upon which reasoning is based must be stated explicitly, in the form of premises. Derrick 07:10, 28 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Flawed logic" is not a type of logic, it's the lack of correct logic. If you don't require the chains of reasoning to be sound, then your project is a waste of time.
Your example claims don't include statements of values as premises, they are just implicit. --Tango 18:00, 28 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If flawed logic wasn't still logic, because logic was sound by definition, then logic professors would be wrong to ask their students questions like 'Is this piece of logic sound?' (either that, or they would be giving away the answer in the question!), and yet such questions are perfectly sensible.
As for requiring chains to be sound, Chains of Reason is not about establishing soundness and unsoundness, but is simply about presenting reasoning as clearly as possible, and leaving people to then decide for themselves whether the reasoning is sound or not (see What Chains of Reason is, and is not). I disagree that a site which presents reasoning regardless of soundness is not useful. For example, if the reasoning behind a particular belief is unsound, and that unsoundness becomes obvious when presented on this site - after being stripped-down to the bare bones and broken-down into baby steps - then the site will help spread awareness of that unsoundness. Knowledge of the unsoundness of particular reasoning is surely just as valuable as knowledge of soundness of particular reasoning.
Re your last point, can you give me example? I'm not sure what you mean. Derrick 12:03, 29 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You might be confusing the terms 'logic' and 'logical' - the latter of which can solely concern sound logic. Compare 'I understand your logic, I just think it's flawed' with 'The reasoning behind the decision seemed logical to everyone, and so one could object to that decision.' Derrick 17:39, 29 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I support edit

This sounds like an amazing project, and I love the concept of the "Chains" and "Links". If wikimedia doesn't host this, I sure will. --Cmelbye 01:13, 2 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks Cmelbye! I've left a message on your talk page. --Derrick 17:23, 2 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Neutrality edit

I do not know but since this is about reason not mereley knowledge. This would mean it would involve certain explanation of events. This also means that all, if not, almost all chains are biased and not neautral. Examples are the chains Chain 13 (It is unprincipled to support the democratic process) and Chain 7 (The god of Judaism, Christianity and Islam does not exist.). -- Felipe Aira 06:13, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your feedback Felipe. I'm afraid that I couldn't follow the first two sentences - sorry!
As for your point about neutrality, I don't believe that it can be said that the chains are biased. First, Chains of Reason as a whole is of course not biased, because any belief can be represented on the site. Also, as it states on the front page, and elsewhere on the site, people are left to make their own assessment of the soundness of the chains, with the site not making any claims about which beliefs are right or wrong. But it also cannot even be said that the individual chains are biased. It is true that they solely present the reasoning behind one belief, but then that is the purpose of each chain. If the purpose of chain 13 was to present the main arguments for and against the existence of the Judeo-Christo-Islamic god, then it could indeed be said that it is biased, given that it only presents one argument from one side of the debate. But the purpose of chain 13 is merely to present one chain of reasoning behind the belief in the non-existence of the Judeo-Christo-Islamic god. Something can only be said to be biased if it considers one side of a debate when it should consider all sides. --Derrick 18:09, 2 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In some chains (Or most?) there are links to chains for contrary opinions.--Son sonson 17:11, 4 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I forgot to mention that. Each premise and conclusion statement in a chain, including the main conclusion, can be followed by links to chains with main conclusions that are directly relevant to that premise or conclusion in question - including chains with main conclusions that are contrary to the premise or conclusion in question. So this is another sense in which the chains themselves are not biased. --Derrick 07:43, 5 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Utility? edit

My question is pretty simple. I'm wondering what exactly need this would fill; if these chains of reasoning, these proofs, are rigorous and machine-checkable - then why not work on one of the many math projects devoted to developing and checking such proofs? If the proofs will be informal and non-rigorous, then wouldn't they be much more useful or interesting when placed in context in their appropriate Wikipedia article? Gwern 22:01, 5 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for the feedback Gwern. The reasoning on Chains of Reasoning is not presented with the level of rigour of formal logic - for one thing, the site is aimed at the general public and it takes years of learning to not only present reasoning with that level of rigour, but even just to follow it. However, even reasoning presented in the highest quality academic writing is not presented with that level of rigour, and such reasoning can be converted into the CoR format. Therefore, I also wouldn't describe that format as 'non-rigorous'. See the article What Chains of Reason is, and is not.
Of course, as you say, this means that any reasoning presented on CoR could be presented on Wikipedia. However, the difference is the format. If you visit the demo (, you'll see that the way reasoning is presented on Chains of Reason is radically different from the normal paragraph format used on Wikipedia. I believe that the CoR format, along with the explicit requirement for users to break-down reasoning into baby steps, leads (if done properly) to a clearer presentation of reasoning than writing in paragraphs can ever achieve. And it also forces users to 'cut to the chase', which is, in addition to clarity, what you want if you are simply wanting to look-up the reasoning behind a particular belief.
In short, I'd say that the overlap between the two projects would be no greater than that between Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Wikipedia can be used to look-up the meaning of most words, but the different, dictionary, format of Wiktionary is better suited to providing definitions, and so there is a place for Wiktionary in the Wikimedia family. Also, each chain can be followed by links to relevant Wikipedia articles, so that people can read about the context of the reasoning there.
I should also say that CoR is not about presenting 'proofs', but is merely about presenting reasoning, sound or unsound, as clearly as possible, with people left to make their own assessment of the soundness of that reasoning. See the 'Disputed claims' section above. --Derrick 23:03, 5 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Chains of Reason - Developmental beginnings edit

This initiative seems worthwhile - on many fronts. The few examples I saw - lead me to suggest that use of Fuzzy Logic may be helpful - in these early stages of "discovery", "information explosion" and "surprise". The use of Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping [Bart Kosko, Fuzzy Thinking] should be a great co-ordinating aid in the links & chains - as well as "integrating" the "unexpected" and the "new". The use of Neural nets and AI tools can rapidly produce additional benefits. Eventually, as Higher Consciousness is attained thru this initiative, dualistic "wake state" opposites will be integrated into Transcendental Consciousness and beyond - eventually leading to the Zen "Pure Being". The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 19:18, Nov 9, 2007.

And I just thought it would make an interesting wiki... :) --Derrick 10:17, 10 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
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