Logic and Problem Solving

Logic is reasoning. People do it without even thinking about it or knowing that they are using their brain power to solve some of the mightiest problems mankind has ever faced. Children use the most basic kind of logic since they’re still too young to have complicated this simple and inborn brain function.

Examples: One little four year old distressed that his mother is angry and is shouting over the fact that he spilled a bowl of popcorn on the freshly swept floor logically finds a solution to her frustration: Thinking he’s done a terrible thing, he begins to clean up the mess. She, seeing his reaction, feels guilty over having blamed him for her inner anger.

Her solution to her problem of guilt is she explains it’s not him but hers. She’s hurt over something that happened at work on Friday. Loving her and wanting to help, the child, after thinking over the situation, tells his mom, cry mom, that’s what I do when I’m hurt.

Therefore applying the principles of logic has a lot to do with one’s inherited capabilities and lessons learned through experiences. Yet philosophers and academicians who want to know more about how logic works has classified each phase of this problem solving entity.


Inductive reasoning is gathering facts and making generalized conclusions about how to solve the problem. In the example given above the child reasoned that his mother’s problem was similar to how he felt when aggravations piled up and he became angry and frustrated. He then solved her problem.  His conclusion: My mother is hurt and she needs to cry. She should not yell at me.


“Abductive reasoning typically begins with an incomplete set of observations and proceeds to the likeliest possible explanation for the set. “The four year old boy’s reasoning was not abductive  reasoning;  his life experiences were too few to permit him to make certain assumptions and come to conclusions.

An eight or ten year old child might have looked at all angles of why his mother was hurt and wouldn’t have at first blamed himself for spilling a bowl of popcorn. He had seen his sister do that and it hadn’t cause an angry outburst, therefore the argument his mother and his father had that morning could have been the cause.

 By that age he would have known that crying would solve nothing. His solution to the problem may have been in doing what she often did when he or his sister was hurt, walk them to the Dairy Queen around the corner for an ice cream cone. This time, since the problem was huge—from his standpoint—the treat would be on him. He’d been saving his allowance and his Saturday yard work with his dad for a bicycle, making his mother feel better was more important. A better more grown up example of abductive logic is how a doctor arrives at a diagnosis of what is ailing a patient.


“Deductive reasoning starts with the assertion of a general rule and proceeds from there to a guaranteed specific conclusion.” This is thinking that begins from a generalized fact or rule and narrows down to a logical conclusion.  Laws can be thought of as generalized rules and a logical conclusion is when one is broken the offender must pay a penalty.

Other qualifiers for logical thinking  

*Existence is a necessity for a logical conclusion. The logical conclusion is that the problem must be real. A bad grade was made in math and there must be reasons. A lawsuit cannot be settled if there is no two opponents who are arguing against or for a certain conclusion.

*Identity has its place in logic. Things have certain characteristics and proof must be deducted from several sources before a thing, or a problem, can be accused. A police lineup where a victim identifier point out the offender is an example of how identify relates to logic. In such cases there must be no reasons for doubt; the identification must be made without uncertainty.

*Uniqueness plays a role in logic. Certain things have characteristics in common.  Since all trees have leaves, the object in question is not an animal but a plant; animals have fur therefore this thing is not an animal.

*Specificity also relates to logic. Certain things require certain special characteristics in order to exist. An example of whether or not an animal is alive is asking the question, is it breathing. The conclusion is reached from the fact that all living things need oxygen.

Logic is reasoning and it is fascinating how far scientists take this bit of inborn reasoning. Logic is not mathematics although some teachers of logic have formulas that attempt to prove what words mean logically. Basically logic reaches the same conclusions whether computed or thought through with words.