a minor quibble on a point of logic
June 26, 2012
Recently RaismSchool posted something about racist logic. The post is good, as is much of what she (I think -- someone correct me if I have the pronouns wrong) writes. I only have the most minor of quibbles with one of her responses to a criticism of the post.
In the post she writes:
The entire purpose of logic is to "Make sense” or to apply "Reason.” It is not something that will make sense in one situation but not another.
The first sentence is fine. The second is wrong, because logic is something that can (and often does) make sense in one situation but not others. This is where there is actually a pluralism in logic. There are many logics and no universal logical truths.
Logic is one of my... I don't know, subjects of interest or whatever. So I know I'm quibbling on a fairly (seemingly) minor point, but I actually think it matters. Because the statement that logic is context insensitive is not only false but dangerous. Dangerous for all the reasons I've mentioned many times before (how logic is a tool of whiteness and patriarchy).
Logic is sensitive to context. And what rules and arguments are valid in one system may not be in others. While the mathematics of logic tend to make many people think that this isn't the case, when you look into the philosophical motivations, you continuously see how logic is inextricably tied to natural language. But even if we say, well, we are all using english, this still assumes more consensus on how logical particles in english are interpreted than there actually is (note: there isn't a great deal of consensus, this is why there are so many different logics).
And it is even more important to recognize that there are no universal logical truths. None. Not even the 'law' of excluded middle or the 'law' of non-contradiction are true in all systems. Some systems (see some dialethic logics, especially those created by Graham Priest) allow for true contradictions. Some systems violate the 'law' of excluded middle (see some relevant logics or some many-valued logics created by Jan Łukasiewicz).
Nonetheless, I think posts like RacismSchool's are important because of the ways that they highlight just how often white people violate the rules they seek to impose on everyone else. And it holds them accountable to this. This puts a smile on my face every time.