Logic and Morality

In a wonderful little essay, Jesus the Logician, Dallas Willard observed:

To be logical no doubt does require an understanding of what implication and contradiction are, as well as the ability to recognize their presence or absence in obvious cases. But it also requires the will to be logical, and then certain personal qualities that make it possible and actual: qualities such as freedom from distraction, focused attention on the meanings or ideas involved in talk and thought, devotion to truth, and willingness to follow the truth wherever it leads via logical relations. All of this in turn makes significant demands upon moral character. Not just on points such as resoluteness and courage, though those are required. A practicing hypocrite, for example, will not find a friend in logic, nor will liars, thieves, murderers and adulterers. They will be constantly alert to appearances and inferences that may logically implicate them in their wrong actions. Thus the literary and cinematic genre of mysteries is unthinkable without play on logical relations.

I really appreciated his observation that the practicing hypocrite will find no friend in logic because of the moral presuppositions of the will to be logical. The whole thing is a good read despite or maybe even partially because of one part that I do find a bit weird (you’ll have to read it yourself to find it).


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