BECOMING skilled in the use of logic is one of the most important skills of a computer programmer, whose job is to correctly specify the manner and sequence in which the machine performs its functions. Such work involves the application of reasoning and deduction when analysing statements to determine whether they are true. It also involves the study of larger compound sentences, formed by the conjunction of smaller atomic sentences.
There is a useful branch of logic, called sentential logic, where you examine the overall structure of compound sentences, without even considering the interior structure of its atomic sentences. It is particularly important but is not necessarily easy.
Despite the difficulty, I would not trade the many hours spent on the textbook “Logic and Philosophy: A Modern introduction” by Howard Kahane. After a rigorous course on logic, I recognised that I had learned something important. No conversation would be the same.
This detail came to mind while watching an American TV news station a few nights ago. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement were engaged in a heated exchange with others, who did not share their views on the racist undertones of the number of black men killed by the police in the USA. In the wake of difficulties arising from our own Operation Restore Confidence, the IMPACS report, and the effects of the Leahy Law, I paid particular interest to the discussion.
It was disappointing to hear some profoundly misguided comments from the former mayor of New York, Rudy Guiliani, who commented, rather forcefully, and inaccurately, that to state “Black Lives Matter” was racist, and un-American. He further stated that it was divisive and racist because ”All lives matter: White lives, Black lives, all lives.” Unfortunately, that compound sentence fails the logic test. The premise is false and it is therefore unsound. Logically, the argument is false, and is therefore invalid. It is also untrue!
You might now be thinking: “shouldn’t common sense or morality be a simple way to determine the truth?” Ideally, yes, but given the troubled past of America, where racism was previously rampant and legal, and therefore American, then legality and nationality are not necessarily moral indicators that we should rely on, especially in a post-Mandela world.
Anyone can make a mistake, or even say remarkably stupid things. The implication and challenge for leaders is to be considerate, even when faced with comments and views they may not like. No amount of nationality or posturing can overturn morality or even the simple truth!
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About the Author
Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, design, and capacity building.