What is it for something to be logical?

So many threads ask whether this or that is logical. Is probability logical? Are moral arguments logical? And so on. I never know what it is being asked by such questions. Is there something clear and specific that is being asked by the question, is X logical? What is it?

Emil [Reply to Kennethamy]:

I feel the same way.

Fast [Reply to Kennethamy]:

I think “logical” is being used in different ways. Here’s a little brainstorming:

Sometimes, it’s just a synonym for “reasonable.” A wet ground was a logical consequence of rain. Hence, it was reasonable to expect a wet ground given that it was raining.

Someone who takes a systematic approach to solving a problem may be said to be approaching a problem logically.

A valid argument (even if the premises are false) may be considered a logical argument.

Also, it may be used to differentiate. She just randomly looked through the hey in search of the needle, but he was very methodical as he took a logical approach.

Kennethamy [Reply to Fast]:

Is there nothing in common in all these different uses of “logical”? Why, then, do we use the same term?

Kroni [Reply to Kennethamy’s first post]:

Maybe they’re asking if it can be identified through premises and conclusions…Or maybe they are trying to figure out if abstract concepts like morality follow some kind of mathematical pattern or have a logical purpose for existing.

Emil [Reply to Kroni]:

What does “logical purpose” mean?

Kennethamy [Reply to Emil]:

I imagine it might be asking whether the purpose is something that can be accomplished, or whether the purpose is worth accomplishing. The trouble is that it can mean so many different things that the question, is it logical? does not convey anything really being asked.

So, rather than simply ask whether X is logical, why not, instead, ask about the problem you have in mind when you asked the question. And, maybe if you think about what the problem is, and cannot come up with anything specific or clear, maybe you will wait to ask the question, or maybe not ask the question at all.

Emil [Reply to Kennethamy]:

Basically the analytic principle of questions. Always start by analyzing the question.

[I moved the posts around a bit, and made a few edits. The source is here.]

The Principle

This is a principle worth noting and it seems to be a general principle followed by those that are analytic thinkers or philosophers. When posed with some question that one cannot quickly answer or does not quickly see a way to answer in principle, then analyze the question. For it is often the case that it is the question that there is something wrong with. It may be vague, unclear or otherwise misleading.

And perhaps also: Don’t ask questions that are vague or unclear. At least in philosophical contexts.


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