Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Logic- the law of the land?

  1. Nov 20, 2004 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I can't find a satisfactory way of asking this, so just pretend you are the sole founder of a country and you need to establish the laws of the land. Having an appreciation for logic, you decide your system of laws must have a rigorous, logical foundation.

    What type/system of logic will you choose? i.e. propositional, predicate, fuzzy, mathematical, etc.

    How would your laws be stated and applied? ex.
    L: If you committed murder, then it was in self-defense.
    if L is true, you go free, if L is false, you go to prison.
    Well, that's a horrible example :yuck: but you get the idea hopefully.

    I'm not asking what specific laws you would create, but what rules you would establish for creating and applying laws, i.e., to determine if a proposed law is "valid", to ensure that the law is unambiguous & applied consistenly, etc.

    Sorry, that isn't very clear, but maybe someone understands what the &*%@ I'm trying to ask.
    Happy thoughts,
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2004 #2
    Back in high school, we learned a method of testing things. I'm pretty sure it has a formal name, but I dont remember it.
    Take the action done to each extreme:

    Ex. Someone kills an innocent person.
    Extreme 1 = Everyone kills an innocent person. The society could not surrvice there for it it bad.
    Extreme 2 = No one kills an innocent person. The society is not hurt, therefore it is good.
    Therefore: Killing an innocent person is bad

    Ex. Someone kills in self defence.
    Extreme 1 = Everyone kills in self defence. The offender dies, victum lives.
    Extreme 2 = No one kills in self defence. The victum dies, offender lives.
    Therefore: Innocent life out weighs the offenders life, therefore self defence is ok

    Ex. Somone Eats Rocky Road Ice cream.
    Extreme 1 = Everone eats Rocky Road Ice Cream. The socity is not effected.
    Extreme 2 = No One eats Rocky Road Ice Cream. The society is not effected.
    Therefore: It does not matter, no law is needed.

    It works great for basic fundamental ideals, but it gets very difficult and arguable when things get a lot more complicated.
  4. Nov 20, 2004 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    This is the idea behind Kant's Categorical Imperitive.
  5. Nov 20, 2004 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Yes, the method is called the categorical imperative, and it involves two tests: universalization and reversal. For any action you have the opportunity to take, consider first - what would be the consequence is everyone took the same action? And second - what would be the consequence if an action you take against another is taken against you?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook