Reason for asking question:

I am looking to see if there is any good empirical evidence or study that shows or suggests that studying formal logic or maybe informal logic would actually improve skills at logical reasoning (using deductive or inductive reasoning)?

Here is a study I found but I know nothing about how to assess the validity or interpreting results:


Is this an accepted method of testing on this topic or is there a more accepted test? If you could also explain the results to answer my question I would appreciate it?


1 Answer 1


Logical reasoning is an innate mental faculty. To reason efficiently on any topic, you just need to be proficient in this topic, which "only" requires the hard work of learning whatever there is to learn. The logic will take care of itself.

Formal logic has been a formal discipline for 2,600 years and while we understand more today than we did then, it would be misleading to claim that we understand the logic of human deductive reasoning to the point that it would provide a consistent help in our reasoning.

If ever we understand the logic of human deductive reasoning, it will presumably help us to reason logically.

However, it is unclear whether this would be an improvement. Formal logic can undoubtedly be used to produce complex logical expressions and possibly to validate them, but we use logical reasoning to convince each other and I'm not sure any reasoning arrived at using formal logic, and therefore presumably more complicated or complex than our current reasonings, will be convincing to anyone. Convincing oneself of a reasoning involves understanding the reasoning. Beyond a certain level of complexity, nobody really understands the logic anymore and this level is reached very fast. We understand the modus ponens and the modus tollens, but both only have two levels of implication. Nobody really understands Peirce's Law even though it only has one level more. Who is using the Peirce's law to argue anything?

  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't seem to answer the actual question. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jul 2 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ I second Arnon -- this doesn't address the question. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jul 2 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg I think it does. Can you articulate why you think it doesn't or is this just a vague impression? $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ Does not indicate whether or not formal study improves practical skills, does not provide empirical evidence as requested, does not explain how results are evaluated... This answer is just conjecture as far as I can tell. I want to see: "n students were randomly assigned to training program or control, their reasoning skills before and after were tested using X validated test, and the results were Y", etc, complete with full references to studies, or preferably, meta-analysis. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jul 3 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ Oh if only all that information was in the actual answer (instead of a comment), complete with references to back up the claims made, what a great answer it could be! $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jul 3 at 17:14

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