Chapter

Descartes's New Theory of Reasoning

David Owen

in Hume's Reason

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252602
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598159 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199252602.003.0002
Descartes's New Theory of Reasoning

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Descartes rejected syllogism and its associated formal account of deductive reasoning. One of his main reasons was his concern for truth, and the ability to recognize new truths and to distinguish truths from falsehoods. Formal logic is non‐ampliative; the conclusion of a deductively valid argument does not impose any constraints on the truths that we know are not already imposed by the premises. Instead of rejecting deduction in favour of induction, like Bacon, Descartes developed a new, ampliative theory of deduction in the Regulae. This theory of inference was based on intuition, a forerunner of his later account of clear and distinct perception. One directly intuited that two ideas were related in a certain way. One deduced that one idea was related to another by forming a chain of ideas, the connection between each idea and its neighbour being perceived by intuition.

Keywords: Bacon; deduction; deductive reasoning; Descartes; formal logic; inference; intuition; Regulae; syllogism; truth

Chapter.  8815 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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