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Logic can get us from statements to further statements. So, to go back to the syllogism:

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

The first two statements, or claims, are called the premises, while claim below the horizontal rule is called the conclusion. In an argument, the
premises are things which you hope your interlocutor has already accepted - they may be empirical observations, for example.

Notice the convention of separating the conclusion of an argument from the premises with a horizontal rule. An alternative is to use the
{\displaystyle \vdash } {\displaystyle \vdash } symbol. A, B {\displaystyle \vdash } {\displaystyle \vdash } C means that C follows from A and B.
Alternative locutions are 'A and B entail C', 'C is a consequence of A and B', 'A and B derive C'.

An argument is valid if the conclusion follows from the premises. In logic, truth is a property of statements, i.e. premises and conclusions, whereas
validity is a property of the argument itself. If you talk of 'valid premises' or 'true arguments', then you are not using logical jargon correctly.

True premises and a valid argument guarantee a true conclusion. An argument which is valid and has true premises is said to be sound (adjective)
or have the property of soundness (noun).

I suppose I ought to say what an argument is in this context. An argument is a progression from premises to conclusion. Each statement in the
argument is either a premise, or else follows from the previous statements in the argument. So two kids shouting "'tis" and "'tisn't" at each other
does not constitute an argument, neither do two teenagers swearing at each other. This book is here to help you behave like civilized adults.

Now sometimes you may see two adults pointing out facts to each other, and making inferences from those facts. We might say that these two
adults are 'having an argument'. To be technical, it is a dialectic in which each side advances an argument in the sense meant here.

A mathematical argument is called a proof, and the conclusion of the argument is called a theorem. Sometimes only the really interesting
conclusions are known as theorems, and the less important ones are given another name like lemma. Compare how we use the words 'lady' or
'gentleman' - these words can be reserved to refer only to people of status, or they can be used to refer to everyone.

Euclid, in The Elements, starts off with a set of premises from which he derives several volumes of conclusions, all in a rigorous manner. Such
premises are known as 'axioms'. Logicians are trying to do something similar with arguments. We are reasoning about reasoning.

In arguments, mathematical or otherwise, each statement should be intuitively obvious given what has been said before - this is what is meant
when we say that one statement follows from its predecessors. Logicians have tried to replace this appeal to the 'intuitively obvious' with a set of
rules, called rules of inference, which form a special class of axiom. Of course the rules of inference should themselves be 'intuitively obvious' - we
can't eliminate intuition completely.

So to abstract from our example about Socrates, we can write down a rule of inference:

From the premises 'all x are y' and 'a is x', we can infer 'a is y'.

So now we have a project: can reason be reduced to a small list of simple rules like this? Compare this with Euclid's project of showing that the
mathematics of his day can be derived from a set of rules.

In a while we shall see how far we can get with a simple set of rules called propositional calculus. This is a very simple system, in which it is not
possible even to properly express the deduction made about Socrates. But in presenting the propositional calculus I shall introduce some concepts
and procedures which are useful for talking about any kind of logical calculus, in particular the predicate calculus, which I'll talk about later on.

Truth and validity are two different notions. Truth is predicated of propositions whereas validity is predicated of arguments.
Propositions are either true or false.

Deductive arguments are either valid or invalid. We have noted earlier that a deductive argument claims to provide conclusive proof for
its conclusion.

A deductive argument is valid if and only if the premises provide conclusive proof for its conclusion. This notion of validity of deductive
argument can also be expressed in either of the following two ways.

(i) If the premises of a valid argument are all true, then its conclusion must also be true.
(ii) It is impossible for the conclusion of a valid argument to be false while its premises are true.

Any deductive argument that is not valid is called invalid. So, a deductive argument is invalid if its preemies are all true but the
conclusion is false. Note that in some cases, even if the premises and the conclusion are all true yet the argument may be invalid. In all
cases invalid arguments some of our rules of inference are violated.

The above remark on deductive validity shows the connection between validity of an argument and the truth or falsity of its premises
and conclusion. But the connection is not a simple one. Of the eight possible combinations of truth or falsity of premises and the
conclusion and validity or invalidity of arguments, only one is completely ruled out.

The only thing that cannot happen is that the premises are all true, the conclusion is false and the argument is deductively valid.

Given below are the other seven combinations of true and false premises and conclusion with example;

(i) There are valid arguments whose premises as well as the conclusions are all true.


All men an mortal.

All kings are men.

Therefore, all kings are mortal.

(ii) There are valid arguments whose premises as well as the conclusions are all false.


All cats are six-legged.

All dogs are cats.

Therefore, all dogs are six-legged.

(iii) There are valid arguments where the premises are all false but the conclusion is true.


All fishes are mammals.

All whales are fishes.

Therefore, all whales are mammals.

(iv) An argument may have true premises and a true conclusion and nevertheless the argument may be invalid.


All men an mortal.

All kings are mortal.

Therefore, all kings are men.

(v) There are invalid arguments whose premises are false but the conclusion is true.


All mammals have wings.

All rabbits have wings.

Therefore, all rabbits are mammals.

(vi) There are invalid arguments in which premises and conclusion are all false.

All cats are biped.

All dogs are biped.

Therefore, all dogs are cats

(vii) Lastly, an argument in which the premises are true and the conclusion is false will be invalid.


All Telugus are Indians.

Nehru is not a Tamil.

Therefore, Nehru is not an Indian.

We can summarize our findings in the following tabular way.

Premise Conclusion Validity of the argument

T T Valid




F T Valid


F F Valid


The above examples show that invalid arguments allow for all possible combinations true or false premises and true or false conclusion.
We cited examples of valid arguments with false conclusion as well as invalid arguments with true conclusions. Thus, it can be noticed
that the truth or falsity of the conclusion does not by itself determine the validity or invalidity of the argument. So also the validity of an
argument does not by itself guarantee the truth of its conclusion.

We also noticed that valid arguments may have only three out of the four possible truth contributions. A valid argument cannot have
true premises and a false conclusion. In other words if an argument is valid and its premises are true, then we can be sure that the
conclusion is true.
Truth of Statements, Validity of Reasoning
Peter Suber, Philosophy Department, Earlham College
True Premises, False Conclusion

0. Valid Impossible: no valid argument can have true premises and a false conclusion.

Cats are mammals.

1. Invalid Dogs are mammals.
Therefore, dogs are cats.

True Premises, True Conclusion

Cats are mammals.

2. Valid Tigers are cats.
Therefore, tigers are mammals.

Cats are mammals.

3. Invalid Tigers are mammals.
Therefore, tigers are cats.

False Premises, False Conclusion

Dogs are cats.

4. Valid Cats are birds.
Therefore, dogs are birds.

Cats are birds.

5. Invalid Dogs are birds.
Therefore, dogs are cats.

False Premises, True Conclusion

Cats are birds.

6. Valid Birds are mammals.
Therefore, cats are mammals.

Cats are birds.

7. Invalid Tigers are birds.
Therefore, tigers are cats.

The distinction between truth and validity is the fundamental distinction of formal logic. You cannot understand how logicians see things until this
distinction is clear and familiar.

The seven sample arguments above help us establish the following general principles of logic:

True premises do not guarantee validity.

(Proved by cases #1 and #3 in the table above.)
A true conclusion does not guarantee validity.
(Proved by cases #3 and #7.)
True premises and a true conclusion together do not guarantee validity.
(Proved by case #3.)
Valid reasoning does not guarantee a true conclusion.
(Proved by case #4.)
False premises do not guarantee invalidity.
(Proved by cases #4 and #6.)
A false conclusion does not guarantee invalidity.
(Proved by case #4.)
False premises and a false conclusion together do not guarantee invalidity.
(Proved by case #4.)
Invalid reasoning does not guarantee a false conclusion.
(Proved by cases #3 and #5.)

Therefore, while the truth of propositions and the validity of reasoning are distinct, the relationship between them is not entirely straightforward. We
cannot say that truth and validity are utterly independent because the impossibility of "case zero" (a valid argument with true premises and false
conclusion) shows that one combination of truth-values is an absolute bar to validity. When an argument has true premises and a false conclusion,
it must be invalid. In fact, this is how we define invalidity.
On the other hand, this partial reliance of validity on truth-value only exists for what logicians call the semantic concept of validity. In a few weeks
we'll encounter a syntactic concept of validity which makes no reference to truth at all.

Despite these wrinkles, we should never be misled by true premises or true conclusions to suppose (automatically) that an argument is valid. Nor
should we be misled by false premises or false conclusions to suppose that it is invalid. Nor should we be misled by valid reasoning to suppose that
statements are true, or by invalid reasoning to suppose that statements are false. If we recognize this, then we have already far surpassed "common
sense" in protecting ourselves from deception.

Truth and validity are combined in the concept of soundness. An argument is sound if (and only if) all its premises are true and its reasoning is valid;
all others are unsound. It follows that all sound arguments have true conclusions.

Here's another version of our table, this time showing that only one of the argument types is sound.

Type All premises true? Conclusion true? Reasoning valid? Possible? Sound?

0 yes no yes IMPOSSIBLE N/A

1 yes no no possible unsound

2 yes yes yes possible SOUND

3 yes yes no possible unsound

4 no no yes possible unsound

5 no no no possible unsound

6 no yes yes possible unsound

7 no yes no possible unsound

Empirical scientists and private detectives tell us whether statements are true. Logicians tell us whether reasoning is valid.

How do logicians test validity? Basically, they test for invalidity. We know exactly what invalidity in an argument is: to have true premises and a
false conclusion. An argument is valid in a weak sense if it simply is not invalid. This weak sense of validity turns out to suffice for all the purposes
of rigorous reasoning in science, mathematics, and daily life.

But to test for invalidity, we must know when we are dealing with true premises and a false conclusion. However, logicians do not know whether
statements are true or false. (They are not empirical scientists or private detectives.) But despite this ignorance, logicians can still test validity. One
way is to assume that an argument's premises are all true and the conclusion false (i.e. assume invalidity) and see whether we can get away with it.
Another way is to make all possible assumptions about the truth and falsity of those statements. If there is a "possible universe" in which the premises
are all true and the conclusion is false, then the argument is invalid for all universes. (Can you see why?)

Ever since Justice Holmes asserted that [t]he life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience, lawyers and judges in the
United States have minimized the importance of formal logic for understanding law and legal reasoning. Many legal scholars and
practitioners have feared that to acknowledge that logic is central to law would risk a return to the rationalistic excesses of the
formalistic jurisprudences that dominated nineteenth century legal thought. It was, after all, against that formalist tradition that
Holmes wrote. And it was in spirited opposition to that tradition that members of the Legal Realist movement in America, as well as the
Free Law movement in Europe, directed much of their energies early in the twentieth century.

There is good reason to remain skeptical of overly rationalistic accounts of law and judicial practice. The weave of historical doctrine,
legal principle, and factual nuances that goes into each judicial decision is far too intricate to permit critical appraisal under any single
evaluative method, including the principles of logic. So we are rightfully apprehensive when we recollect the formalistic visions of
nineteenth century jurists visions which found the essence of adjudication in the logical derivation of conclusions necessarily
required by predetermined legal principles.

Yet it is somewhere between strict formalistic jurisprudence and an outright disregard for logic and argumentative form where the law
and judicial practice really find repose. Though all that is typically repeated of Justice Holmes view is the pithy remark quoted above,
his jurisprudential writings together with his judicial opinions show clearly that he never intended to suggest that logic is not a central
aspect of law or judicial decision making. He, as well as the legal realists and other critics of legal formalism, well recognized that
evaluating and creating arguments lie at the heart of the crafts of lawyering and judging.

It is thus worthwhile for practitioners and students of the law alike to possess an understanding of the basic principles of logic that are
used regularly in legal reasoning and judicial decision making. This understanding requires, in important part, skill in navigating the
processes of inductive reasoning the methods of analogy and inductive generalization by which inferences are drawn on the basis
of past experience and empirical observation. The common law method of case law development, as well as the general prescript often
referred to as the Rule of Law that like cases be decided alike are grounded logically in inductive reasoning.

Equally important is a second basic category of argumentation deductive logic, especially the deductive argument forms known as
syllogisms. These are the classic forms of deductive argument consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. It was
this aspect of logic that a century ago stirred such virulent opposition to formalism. And it is this aspect of logic which was so severely
downplayed throughout the twentieth century. Yet even a rudimentary understanding of deductive logic gives lawyers, judges, and
students of the law a valuable tool for determining whether an argument in a legal opinion or brief is valid or fallacious.

In essence, the domain of the law and, within that domain, perhaps most especially the practice of judicial decision making are exercises
in practical reasoning. Law, to be sure, involves more than logic. Yet the myriad of factors that contribute to good lawyering and fair
judging suggest that the life of the law, while not logic alone, is a manifold of activities that all use and depend upon reason in
specialized ways. The precision of detail required in the drafting of contracts, wills, trusts, and other legal documents is a rational
precision; the care in planning and strategizing demanded of trial attorneys in deciding how to present their cases is a rational care; the
skill in written and oral argumentation required for appellate practice is, quite obviously, a rational skill; the talent expected of
administrative law judges in crafting coherent findings of fact and conclusions of law is a rational talent; and the ability of trial and
appellate court judges to separate, dispassionately and without bias, the kernel of argument from the rhetorical and emotive chaff of
adversarial presentation, so as to render judgments that are justified under the law, is a rational ability.

While it is true that many other factors from self-interest to moral values, from psychology to science enter into the decision
making of lawyers and judges, all such factors bear the ever-present tincture of reason and logic. Trial attorneys may appeal to the
psychology or sentiments of the jury, but only so far as they reasonably expect to influence the jury to draw rational inferences in their
clients favor. Self-interest may be the sole driving motive for each party in the drafting of a contract, yet the recognition, grounded in
reason, that insisting on onerous provisions will likely undermine the entire contractual arrangement has the tendency to hold
everyones self-interest in check. And while adjudicative practice calls for a good deal of value judgment in the choice, interpretation,
and application of legal principles, such value judgments are not free of the constraints of reason. As stated by one appellate court,
[E]very legal analysis should begin at the point of reason, continue along a path of logic and arrive at a fundamentally fair result.
(Sunrise Lumber v. Johnson, Appeal No. 165). To criticize, reverse, or overrule an administrative or judicial decision as arbitrary,
capricious, unsupported by law, or contrary to precedent is to say nothing more, but nothing less, than that the decision is
deficient in logic and reason.