Wild about logic: new book

Logic can be a powerful tool for making decisions, improving communication, expanding creativity, and solving problems in all aspects of life, says Patrick Girard in his new book .

Logic is the guardian of coherence, argues Patrick Girard in his new book Logic in the Wild (McGill-Queen's University Press, May 2024).

The senior lecturer in philosophy at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland treats logic as an active discipline to engage with rather than a passive subject to learn in his accessibly written book, aimed at anyone interested in how using logic can improve their lives.

Logic, he says, finds coherence in patterns of reasoning across science, religion, and everyday decision-making and can be invaluable in finding common ground in an often divided world.

“It helps communities engage safely by replacing contentious debates with shared, constructive reasoning and provides neutral ground for the healthy pursuit of common goals and interests.”

It also has the power, he says, “to unite the complex and the simple, the abstract and the concrete, and the theoretical and the practical," which he illustrates using a range of possible situations.

For example, he examines how we could use logic to make decisions during uncertain times, like Novak Djokovic holding a tennis tournament during a pandemic or Albert Einstein writing a letter to President Roosevelt advising on atomic energy research.

Dr Patrick Girard
Dr Patrick Girard: “I believe the book makes this smorgasbord of topics relatable and accessible."

The book also delves into large philosophical debates like the existence of God and the problem of evil, scientific topics like intelligent design versus evolution, and paradoxes in time travel and politics, including the commonly held misconception that building roads reduces traffic.

It also covers historical and literary subjects, including whether Sherlock Holmes was actually any good at logic, and practical issues like the logical argument linking policies on cigarettes and climate change.

Logic also explores complex scientific laws.

“I look at ancient theories of vision, the cosmological shift from Ptolemy to Copernicus, modern theories of the electron, and scientific definitions that led to the demotion of Pluto as a planet,” says Girard.

“I believe the book makes this smorgasbord of topics relatable and accessible, which I hope shows its versatility and relevance in both every day and extraordinary contexts.”

He says that while most introductory logic textbooks use maths to formalise what has come to be known as classical logic, “a rather contrived reasoning framework”, he believes, Logic in the Wild avoids formalism entirely.

“I think this is one of the book’s main strengths. Instead of focusing on formalising logic, I offer a straightforward and practical framework.”

He says this approach makes logic accessible without requiring any mathematical background.

“By emphasising the real-world applications of logical principles, the book shows how logic can enhance understanding and address ordinary problems, making it approachable for a general audience.”

Image of the book cover of 'Logic in the Wild' by Patrick Girard.
Logic in the Wild is now available to buy in paperback and as an e-copy.

To demystifiy complex ideas, he uses common-sense language and eschews technical jargon, symbols and equations that are likely to put off a non-academic reader.

“I hope Logic in the Wild will enable readers to identify patterns in their own reasoning, which will inevitably help them to better grapple with questions central to their normal lives; I believe it’s time to reclaim logic and give it back to people,” says Girard.

Logic in the Wild is available to buy in paperback or as an e-book here and here.

For more thoughts on logic, people can read Patrick Girard's blog at: www.logicinthewild.com.

Media contact

Julianne Evans | Media adviser
M: 027 562 5868
E: julianne.evans@auckland.ac.nz