"The characterization of textbook logic is necessarily brief and simplistic, but it captures an essential point about how logicians view logic and its relationship to thinking. Even the most extreme logical formalists agree that logic is expressed through language. For instance, Quine presents logic as the product of truth and grammar. At the time, he claims that logic is empirically real and emerges in the scientific enterprise." -Hamill, Ethno-Logic: The Anthropology of Human Reasoning
Hamill cites a study done by Hutchins among the Trobrianders, in which he analyzed how the Trobrianders depended upon accurate inferences in arguments over land, indicating that they are able to make strong logical arguments, just as any other human group can.
However, my question, in regard to this material, is: what is the value of an anthropological study of logic? Does human reasoning warrant an altogether separate field of inquiry in anthropology? I've been thinking about this in relation to what has become my dissertation topic: focusing on how people reason or make decisions about the environmental dilemma of 'the commons.' As I am discovering, groups of fishermen often have their own way of managing 'the commons' and don't necessarily rely on purely 'scientific' theories or models about how the commons should be managed.
This is partially discussed in the works of many contemporary environmental anthropologists, including Robert Efird, who studied environmental learning in Lijiang, China. Here, he discovered that original 'moral' notions of environmental management were not retained, instead being replaced by these scientific theories in environmental education. However, children were not attracted to either way of learning about the environment, mostly because they had not directly interacted with the environment. After an NGO had established a program for children to foster a more direct relationship to their environment, they retained more conservationist behaviors.
Are the approaches we use towards resource management constitutive of ethno-logic? Or are these approaches something only learned through practice and conscious educational initiatives? How do we reason about what is appropriate resource conservation or not?
I guess a prime example that comes to mind is: how do people decide what level of recycling they deem acceptable? I know many people who compost and many people who find the idea absolutely ridiculous. What causes this divide?