The program is a stand-alone overlay tool. It allows the user to select and arrange logical symbols from a floating button-box GUI to be used over an existing text document. Starting with an unformatted text source, such as a research paper, the end user will be able to represent all arguments in their simplest form on a separate document using these logical symbols.
It is intended for users who wish to analyse and deconstruct arguments presented in online written material such as academic articles, op-ed articles and blogs. By employing logical symbols to represent the arguments inherent in the material, the user is able to condense its content and reveal the underlying logical structure of an argument.
In this way, the open-logic-assistant is a critical thinking tool. By analysing and representing the logical structure of an argument, the user is able to construct an evaluation of the argument's soundness and validity. This may be useful for a wide range of users, including those interested in political debate or students conducting research.
A quick note about arguments and formal logic:
An argument consists of premises and conclusions. This program will be used for representing and testing deductive arguments, which assert that the truth of the conclusion is a logical consequence of the premises. The truth value of an argument can be evaluated according to soundness and validity. A sound argument is a valid argument with true premises; a valid argument may well have false premises.
Formal logic can be used to represent and test the truth value and validity of an argument. Formal logic can be succinctly represented using logical constants (logic symbols): see [url removed, login to view] or [url removed, login to view] Thus logic constants can be used to represent and test the soundness and validity of a deductive argument.
Desired technical platform:
The desired platform will be Java-based. It is a simple window-tool with a user-interface that mainly features buttons. The design is intended to be able to be used concurrently with other programs, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader.
The user is reading an argument which is being presented in an online article. The user wishes to summarise and analyse the argument being presented to them. The user is familiar with basic argumentation and formal logic. The user opens the Logic Assistant in order to construct a concise textual representation of the logical argument(s) inherent in the article.
Envisaged primary functionality of Logic Assistant:
The user environment is a split screen setup consisting of a source document on one side and a text editor on the other side. Logic Assistant mediates between the two programs. The three main points of functionality are: that fragments of text from the source document can be referenced into the text editor; that Logic Assistant exports the current session’s data into a configuration file for a subsequent session; and that the Logic Assistant can reveal/expand what a selected line of logical text represents.
- The user will highlight fragments of text which they believe make up the premises of the argument.
- Logic Assistant will associate these fragments with specific identities (e.g. The hypothetical fragment "Actors" may be associated with "A" and the fragment "vain" with "B") and display the identities in the text editor.
- The user will select from the Logic Assistant overlay the logical constant(s) which they feel best represents the logical connection made between the premises (e.g. → means "implies", ∃ means "there exists"). The chosen constants will be placed in the text editor, linking the identities (e.g. ∃x (Ax → Bx) would represent "some actors are vain").
Improvements on design are welcome!
For more information please see the attached document 'Logic Assistant overview"
Note that the logic symbols did not appear correctly in the text box above. To view the kinds of symbols which will be used, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_logic_symbols or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_constant