To what extent do you think reason is an objective, reliable way of knowing? Do not list the problems, but evaluate their importance of reasoning overall.

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Essay: Reasoning

TOK Essay: To what extent do you think reason is an objective, reliable way of knowing? Do not list the problems, but evaluate their importance of reasoning overall.

According to my understanding, reasoning is ones ability to draw conclusions from observation, trend or simply logic. We all use reasoning on a daily basis to make decisions and arrive to conclusions on various matters. In some cases, reasoning may be proved to be unreliable and not objective as a way of knowing. Rationalism (the use of reasoning) may be influenced by various factors including: biases that are brought about by emotional influences, language barrier or personal experiences. The focus of this essay will be to evaluate to what extent reasoning could be an unreliable way of knowing and whether or not an objective way of knowing.

Rationalism includes of two types of logic. One being deductive logic and the other being inductive logic. Deductive logic or reasoning is whereby a conclusion is reached upon by considering previous premises. An example of deductive logic could be: Humans grow hair, I am human, and therefore I grow hair. This means that the conclusion that “I grow hair” comes as a result of the first two premises, in this case the argument seems fairly logically valid and true. However, while using deductive reasoning, an argument can be mislead or misunderstood because of the structure of the argument itself rather than the content of the argument. This would mean that using/implying deductive reasoning to a specific topic may turn out to be an unreliable way of knowing because of the fact that the same argument could have a different outcome or conclusion if only the structure of the argument was to change. The capability of altering the outcome of an argument just by restructuring the premises makes this an unreliable method of knowing to a certain extent.

Using deductive reasoning can be tricky because the conclusion is drawn from the premises or the ‘conditions’ and according to this, the conclusions may often turn out to be valid and logical. However this doesn’t always mean that it is true. An example of this is – “All boys love football, I am a boy, therefore I love football”. Although this is a perfectly valid logical argument, the conclusion may not be true because one of the premises is not true. For the conclusion of a logical argument to be true, the logic must be true. This ultimately means that to undermine a conclusion or argument, one can easily fault the logic or dispute the premises of the argument hence making this an unreliable (to some extent) way of knowing. Moreover, deductive reasoning can be very difficult and can vary from person to person due to the element of personal prejudice thereby making it an unreliable way of knowing and a less objective way of drawing a conclusion.

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On the other hand inductive logic/reasoning talks of going from several specific experiences or observations to making a generalized conclusion. Inductive logic is a very common way of arriving at a conclusion. On several occasions I myself have made assumptions or generalization from my past experiences and observations. For example: I once made a generalization that all girls are emotional because every girl that I made met would generally be emotional. This generalization seemed logical and understandable; however the problem of such a generalization (called the ‘problem of induction’) is that it is made upon the basis of observation and ...

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