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What is logical thinking, and how do I develop it?

Vector credit: Peecheey

Logic or logical derives from the Greek word logos meaning “reason, idea, or word”.  Logical thinking is a highly sought business skill because well-formed logical thinking and reasoning produces higher quality outcomes.  

Logical thinkers observe and analyze events, patterns, reactions, and feedback. Using this information, conclusions, decisions or recommendations naturally emerge. This decision-making approach does not come from a gut feeling or a “it feels right” point of view. It means setting aside previously held assumptions, feelings and biases. 

Logical Thinking Four-Step Approach

The four elements that form thoughts, expectations, opinions and ultimately judgments are: 

  1. Proposition: a statement or assertion that expresses a judgement or opinion (basically a reasoned expectation). It’s the foundation of your argument – ultimately they are true (accurate) or false (inaccurate). 
  2. Premise: the propositions you then use to form and build your logical argument. 
  3. Inference: an opinion developed based on information you already have (it is an extension from your premise).
  4. Conclusion: drawn on the basis of evidence coupled with your reasoning. 

Deductive and Inductive Logic

Let’s take a look at the two approaches to logical arguments.

Deductive – This approach yields full and transparent evidence of the truth and the basis for a conclusion. It’s based on an exacting premise that leads to a defined and accurate conclusion. With the correct premise, the conclusion in a deductive argument is verifiable and appropriate. 

Inductive – This approach is “bottom up”. It uses specific information to form a broad generalization considered probable while accepting the fact that the conclusion may not be accurate. This approach typically involves rules developed based on a series of repeated experiences. 

Practical Application Examples

Examples of Deductive and Inductive Logic:

  • It is dangerous to drive when freezing rain is falling. There is a freezing rain fall now. Deductive logic tells you that it is dangerous to drive at the moment. 
  • Trees get wet then it rains. Looking out of the window as I make my morning coffee, I see the trees are wet. Deductive logic tells me that it rained last night. 
  • Several houses burned down in my block street, every fire was caused by faulty wiring. Inductive reasoning leads me to conclude that all homes on my block have faulty wiring. 
  • Red lights prevent traffic accidents in intersections. Joshua did not have an accident; therefore, you induce that he stopped at a red light. This example of inductive reasoning is flawed because Joshua may not have encountered any red lights during his trip. 

The illustrations highlight how logic helps solve problems and draw conclusions. Conclusions can be either correct or incorrect. This is observable in the examples.

Deductive reasoning ensures you derive an appropriate logical argument whereas inductive reasoning may or may not provide an appropriate outcome.

The best way to develop your ability to apply logic is to follow these simple steps without losing sight of the limitations. With practice, logical reasoning is a skill you will develop faster than you expected!

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