Logical order essay writing

Logical order essay writing

We use logic every day to figure out test questions, plan our budgets, and decide who to date. We borrow from the vocabulary of logic when we say, «Brilliant deduction» or even «I don’t want to argue about it.» In the study of logic, however, each of these terms has a specific definition, and we must be clear on these if we are to communicate.


When dealing with persuasive writing, it will be helpful for you to outline the argument by premises and conclusions. By looking at the structure of the argument, it is easy to spot logical error.

«Universities are full of knowledge. The freshmen bring a little in, and the seniors take none away, and knowledge accumulates.

— Harvard President A. L. Lowell

(Here, the conclusion of one argument is used as a premise in another. This is very common.)

Even though there may be a deceiver of some sort, very powerful and very tricky, who bends all his efforts to keep me perpetually deceived, there can be no slightest doubt that I exist, since he deceives me; and let him deceive me as much as he will, he can never make me be nothing as long as I think I am something. Thus, after having thought well on this matter, and after examining all things with care, I must finally conclude and maintain that this proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true every time that I pronounce it or conceive it in my mind.

— Rene Descartes, *Meditations*

Conclusion of Argument 1
Argument 2 Premise 1:

When I think that I exist I cannot be
deceived about that

I am, I exist, is necessarily true . .

Find the Arguments and Outline them in These Statements:

1. Ask the same for me, for friends should have all things in common.

2. Matter is activity, and therefore a body is where it acts; and because every particle of matter acts all over the universe, every body is everywhere.

— Collingwood, The Idea of Nature

3. The citizen who so values his «independence» that he will not enroll in a political party is really forfeiting independence, because he abandons a share in decision©making at the primary level: the choice of the candidate.

— Felknor, Dirty Politics

Reaching Logical Conclusions

This article is reprinted from pages 78-79 of Pearson-Allen: Modern Algebra , Book One. In the book it is one of several between-chapter articles that add interest and provike thought on subjects related to the topics discussed in the text.

Consider the two statements:

1. Any member of a varsity squad is excused from physical education.
2. Henry is a member of the varsity football squad.

Our common sense tells us that if we accept these two statement as true, then we must accept the following third statement as true:

3. Henry is excused from physical education.

We say that the third statement follows logically from the other two.

In drawing logical conclusions it does not matter whether the statements we accept as true are reasonable or sensible. This is because we depend entirely upon the form of the statements and not upon what we are talking about. Thus, if we accept the following statements as true:

1. All whales are mammals;
2. All mammals are warm-blooded animals;
3. All warm-blooded animals are subject to colds;

then we must conclude that

4. All whales are subject to colds. Do you see that statements 1, 2, and 3 are arranged in logical order ?

If you have read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass , you know that their author, Lewis Carroll, delighted in giving sets of nonsense statements which lead to logical conclusions. One such set is the following:

  1. Babies are illogical;
  2. Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile;
  3. Illogical persons are despised.

When these statements are arranged in logical order we have:

1. Babies are illogical;
2. Illogical persons are despised;
3. Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile.

From these we can draw the logical conclusion:

4. Babies cannot manage crocodiles.

Other sets of statements written by this author follow. To draw a conclusion from each set of statements, first arrange the statements in logical order. A diagram such as those in the preceding column may help you. The correct conclusions are given at the bottom of the page, but do not look at them until you have written your conclusion.

1. Everyone who is sane can do Logic;
2. No lunatics are fit to serve on a jury;
3. None of your sons can do Logic.

1. No ducks waltz;
2. No officers ever decline to waltz;
3. All my poultry are ducks.

1. No kitten that loves fish is unteachable;
2. No kitten without a tail will play with a gorilla;
3. Kittens with whiskers always love fish;
4. No teachable kitten has green eyes;
5. No kittens have tails unless they have whiskers.

1. There is no box of mine here that I dare open;
2. My writing-desk is a box made of rose-wood;
3. All my boxes are painted except what are here;
4. There is no box of mine that I dare not open, unless
it is full of live scorpions;
5. All my rose-wood boxes are unpainted.


I. None of your sons are fit to serve on the jury.
II. My poultry are not officers.
III. No kitten with green eyes will play with a gorilla.
IV. My writing-desk is full of live scorpions.

With this brief introduction to Lewis Carroll type problems, you will find it worthwhile and interesting to construct your own problems of this type.

(The fun part)

A fallacy is an error of reasoning. It can be used against you in an argument, but if you are familiar with them, you will be able to refute the fallacious argument. Likewise, if you are clever, you can use them to convince others.

Fallacies fall into two major categories:

Fallacies of Relevance — Premises are irrelevant to the conclusion. Fallacies of Ambiguity — Ambiguous, changeable wording in the propositions

Here are examples of each of the major fallacies. You figure out and write in a definition which makes sense to you.

Fallacies of Relevance

1. Argumentum ad Bacculum (appeal to force) — «Pay back the loan and 10 % daily interest by Thursday, or be sure that you have you hospital insurance paid up.» 2. Argumentum ad Hominem (abusive) — «Don’t believe anything John says; he’s a nerd.» 3. Argumentum ad Hominem (circumstantial) — «Of course he thinks fraternities are great. He’s a Phi Delta.» 4. Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance) — There is no proof that witches exist; therefore, they do not. 5. Argumentum ad Misericordiam (appeal to pity) — «Your honor, how can the prosecution dare try to send this poor, defenseless child to jail for the murder of his father and mother. Have a heart; the boy is now an orphan.» 6. Argumentum ad Populum — «Don’t be left out! Buy your Chevette today!» 7. Argumentum ad Vericundiam (appeal to authority) — Joe Namath selling pantyhose; Joe DiMaggio selling Mr. Coffee. 8. Accident — «What you bought yesterday, you eat today; you bought raw meat yesterday; therefore, you eat raw meat today.» 9. Converse Accident (hasty generalization) — «That man is an alcoholic. Liquor should be banned.» 10. False cause (Post hoc ergo propter hoc) (Many of our superstitions stem from use of this fallacy.) — «a black cat crossed Joe’s path yesterday, and he died last night.» or «Put your money where your mouth is. Whiter teeth and fresh breath will win Susie.» 11. Petitio Principii (begging the question) — «It’s time to come in the house now, Billy.»
«Because I said so!»
«Because it’s time, and I said so.» 12. Complex Question — «Have you given up cheating on exams?» 13. Ignoratio Elenchi (irrelevant conclusion) — In a law court, in attempt to prove that the accused is guilty of theft, the prosecution may argue that theft is a horrible crime for anyone to commit.

Fallacies of Ambiguity

1. Equivocation — Some dogs have fuzzy ears. My dog has fuzzy ears. My dog is some dog! 2. Amphibole (grammatical construction) — «Woman without her man would be lost.» or «Save Soap and Waste Paper.» 3. Accent — «We should not speak ill of our friends.» 4. Composition— «Each part of this stereo weighs under one pound. This is a very light stereo.»
or » . ONLY $1.97 plus processing and postage.» 5. Division— «Purdue is a great engineering school. Mike went there; he must be a great engineer.»

Listen to your roommate, the T. V., and even your profs. You’ll be amazed how many fallacies we encounter each day.

More important, check your papers. Does your argument have premisses and conclusions stated properly? Have you been guilty of fallacious reasoning?

Exercises 1-11

(from Copi, Introduction to Logic pp. 85-87)

Identify the Fallacies in the Following Passages and Explain how each Specific Passage Involves that Fallacy or Fallacies:

1. It is necessary to confine criminals and to lock up dangerous lunatics. Therefore there is nothing wrong with depriving people of their liberties.

2. How much longer are you going to waste your time in school when you might be doing a man’s work in the world, and contributing to society? If you had any sense of social responsibility, you would leave immediately.

3. The army is notoriously inefficient, so we cannot expect Major Smith to do an efficient job.

4. God exists because the Bible tells us so, and we know that what the Bible tells us must be true because it is the revealed word of God.

5. Congress shouldn’t bother to consult the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff about the military appropriations. As members of the armed forces, they will naturally want as much money for military purposes as they think they can get.

6. Mr. Brown: I will give no more money to your cause next year.
Solicitor: That’s all right, sir, we’ll just put you down for the same amount that you gave this year.

7. When we had got to this point in the argument, and every one saw that the definition of justice had been completely upset, Thrasymachus, instead of replying to me, said:

«Tell me, Socrates, have you got a nurse?»
«Why do you ask such a question,» I said, «when you ought rather to be answering?»
«Because she leaves you to snivel, and never wipes your nose: she has not even taught you to know the shepherd from the sheep.»

8. Narcotics are habit-forming. Therefore if you allow your physician to ease your pain with an opiate, you will become a hopeless drug addict.

9. You can’t prove that he was to blame for the misfortune, so it must actually have been someone else who was responsible.

10. You can’t park here. I don’t care what the sign says. If you don’t drive on, I’ll give you a ticket.

11. But lest you think, that my piety has here got the better of my philosophy, I shall support my opinion, if it needs my support, by a very great authority. I might cite all the divines almost, from the foundation of Christianity, who have ever treated of this or any other theological subjects: but I shall confine myself, at present, to one equally celebrated for piety and philosophy. It is Father Malebranche.

— David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Exercises 16-30

(from Copi, *Introduction to Logic* pp. 87-88)

16. Cooks have been preparing food for generations, so our cook must be a real expert.

17. More young people are attending high schools and colleges than ever before in the history of our nation. But there is more juvenile delinquency than ever before. This makes it clear that to eliminate delinquency among the youth we must abolish the schools.

18. You say we ought to discuss whether or not to buy a new car now. All right, I agree. Let’s discuss the matter. Which should we get, a Ford or a Chevy?

19. Our nation is a democracy and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. We believe in equality of opportunity for everyone, so our colleges and universities should admit every applicant, regardless of his economic or educational background.

20. Anyone who deliberately strikes another person should be punished. Therefore the middleweight boxing champion should be severely punished, for he assaults all of his opponents.

21. We should reject Mr. Watkins’ suggestions for increasing the efficiency of our colleges. As a manufacturer he cannot be expected to realize that our aim is to educate the youth, not to make a profit. His recommendations can have no value for us.

22. Everyone said that the soup had a very distinctive taste, so they must all have found it very tasty.

23. If we want to know whether a state is brave we must look at its army, not because the soldiers are the only brave people in the community, but because it is only through their conduct that the courage or cowardice of the community can be manifested.

— R. L. Nettleship, Lectures on the Republic of Plato

24. My client is the sole support of his aged parents. If he is sent to prison, it will break their hearts, and they will be left homeless and penniless. You surely cannot find it in your hearts to reach any other verdict than «not guilty.»

25. There is no proof that the secretary «leaked» the news to the papers, so she can’t have done it.

26. Diamonds are seldom found in this country, so you must be careful not to mislay your engagement ring.

27. Was it through stupidity of through deliberate dishonesty that the Administration has hopelessly botched its foreign policy? In either case, unless you are in favor of stupidity or dishonesty, you should vote against the incumbents.

28. Since all men are mortal, the human race must some day come to an end.

Try these for Fun!

Exercises in Reasoning

I. Four men, whom we shall call Robert, Ralph, Ronald, and Rudolph, were playing cards one evening. As a result of a quarrel during the course of the game, one of these men shot and killed another. From the facts below determine the murder and the victim.

    1. Rudolph had known Ronald for only five days prior to the murder.
    2. Robert will not expose his brother’s guilt.
    3. Rudolph has been released from jail on the day of the murder, after serving a three day sentence.
    4. Ralph met Robert’s father only once.
    5. Robert had wheeled Ralph, a cripple, to the card game at Ronald’s home.
    6. The host is about to give evidence against the murderer, whom he dislikes.
    7. The murdered man had eaten dinner on the previous evening with one of the men who did not customarily bowl with Ronald.

II. Five men are in a poker game: Brown, Perkins, Turner, Jones, and Reilly. Their brands of cigarettes are Luckies, Camels, Kools, Old Golds, and Chesterfields, but not necessarily in that order. At the beginning of the game, the number of cigarettes possessed by each player was 20, 15, 8, 6, and 3, but not necessarily in that order.

During the game, at a certain time when no one was smoking, the following obtained:

    1. Perkins asked for three cards.
    2. Reilly had smoked half of his original supply, or one less than Turner had smoked.
    3. The Chesterfield man originally had as many more, plus half as many more, plus 2 1/2 more cigarettes than he has now.
    4. The man who was drawing to an inside straight could taste only the menthol in his fifth cigarette, the last one he smoked.
    5. The man who smokes Luckies had smoked at least two more than anyone else, including Perkins.
    6. Brown drew as many aces as he originally had cigarettes.
    7. No one had smoked all his cigarettes.
    8. The Camel man asks Jones to pass Brown’s matches.

How many cigarettes did each man have to begin with, and of what brand?


A functional impropriety is the use of a word as the wrong part of speech. The wrong meaning for a word can also be impropriety.

Mark improprieties in the following phrases and correct them in the blanks at the right. If you find none, write C in the blank. Example: (occupation) hazards — occupational

1. reforming institution policies

2. percentaging students by grades

3. dead trees as inhabitants for birds

4. an initiate story about a young girl

5. a recurrence theme in literature

6. a wood chisel

7. a wood baseball bat

8. a frivolity conversation on the weather

9. a utopia hideaway of alpine villas

10. a utilize room complete with workbench

11. the unstabled chemical compounds

12. the unschooled labor force

13. the vandals who rapined Rome

14. an erupting volcano crevassing the hills

15. criticism writing which is often abstract

16. abstracted beyond understanding

17. classified as an absorbent

18. a handwriting letter

19. banjoed their way to the top ten

20. a meander stream

21. hoboing across the country

22. holidayed the time away

23. the redirective coming from the officer

24. grain-fed slaughter cattle

25. ivy tendoned to the walls

Copyright (C)1998 by Purdue University. All rights reserved.
This document may be distributed as long as it is done entirely with all attributions to organizations and authors. Commercial distribution is strictly prohibited. Portions of this document may be copyrighted by other organizations.

This document is part of a collection of instructional materials used in the Purdue University Writing Lab. The on-line version is part of OWL (On-line Writing Lab), a project of the Purdue University Writing Lab, funded by the School of Liberal Arts at Purdue.

What Is Logical Order in Paragraph Writing?

Quick Answer

Sentences in a paragraph should follow some type of organization that helps them flow in a logical order. While there is no one organization that will work for every paragraph, there are some organizations that will work for many.

Keep Learning

What Is the Deductive Order in a Paragraph?

What Is Conventional Writing?

What Are Some Characteristics of a Good Paragraph?

Full Answer

Developing points and ordering information in a certain way can help keep the reader centered on the focus of the paragraph. It can also help the writer create a paragraph with a clear purpose that is easy for readers to follow.

One example of logical order is to arrange the sentence in chronological order to show a sequence of events or the passing of time. Another is to arrange sentences in order of importance. This can be done by either moving from the most important point to the least important point or going the opposite way, from the least important to the most important. Another common organization is to move from a general point, getting more specific as the paragraph moves along or to move from specific to general. No matter what order is chosen, maintaining the pattern is important to keep the paragraph clear.

Logical order can also apply to flow of paragraphs within an entire document. Like the organization of a paragraph, the organization of a document should consistent.

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How To Write a Logical Essay in Four Steps

This tool is nothing more than an essay template; not a five-paragraph “Baker’s” essay, but a college/grad-school short essay structure based on fundamental principles of logic. I teach this method sparingly because, followed slavishly, it can hinder the highly individual, impressionable and corruptible process of the inner germination of unique ideas. But when you need to grind out one or seven papers, this template can provide an efficient process and a solid product.

Here’s how it works. You start with a worksheet. The worksheet contains the structure of a logical exposition:

  1. Define the problem / state the question
  2. Propose a solution, or a clear path to a solution
  3. Marshal/analyze the evidence
  4. Conclude (see below—the conclusion is perhaps the most complex step)

Use the worksheet as an outline for the essay. Fill in each step with one or a few sentences. Then write the essay by filling in and fleshing out the concepts that you’ve already articulated on the worksheet—like cooking a full meal from a recipe.

(If you are under enormous pressure to produce several essays one on top of the other, read this paragraph; otherwise skip to the next paragraph.) When the essay is finished, read it over to see whether it makes sense. Make minor adjustments in logic. Then print it and set it aside. Don’t proofread it yet. Just get a snack and a cup of tea or coffee or hot chocolate, and come back to start the next recipe. Ideally, give each completed essay to the most wonderful, grammar-competent friend in the world, who will proofread and correct it purely out of the goodness of her heart, because she wants nothing more than to help you out in this mad dash for the finish line. If no one is available for this favor, proofread each essay yourself the following day, or after your next recognizable sleep cycle. (The message here is that proofreading it yourself immediately is about as effective as dreaming that you’re proofreading it.) But make sure each essay gets proofread thoroughly! An essay can lose a whole grade or two, or even fail outright, just for looking like a last-minute rush job.

Now, here is each step, with explanations and examples. It is vitally important to note that these steps absolutely do not bear a 1:1 correlation to paragraphs in the essay. Each step theoretically can be from one sentence to ten paragraphs long, depending on the length of your paragraphs and the nature of the topic.

Step 1: Define the problem / state the question. This is both the topic and the driving force of the essay. Always define your terms and include a sensory picture (i. e. concrete image or example) either of the problem/question as a whole, or that exemplifies the problem/question. Be highly descriptive in this step, because it is at this early stage of the essay that concrete language is most crucial.

Example of this step: The Batman is a superhero, in a Nietzschean sense, at least, even though he has no mutant powers. As such his role is to protect Gotham’s citizens from outlaws. For instance, Catwoman is a thief, and the Penguin is a terrorist, and accordingly the Batman thwarts their plans: he prevents the bombs from exploding and restores the stolen goods to their rightful owners. But now the Joker shows up and suddenly the Batman, himself a crime-fighter, begins to operate outside the law—e. g. destroying property and beating up police officers. (This is a real problem, and naturally leads to a question, the answer to which is likely to be illuminating, so the essay has a feeling of purpose.) Does being a superhero make the Batman above the law?

Step 2: Propose a solution, or a clear path to a solution. This is your main idea, often called the “thesis.” It is not, however, to be confused with a rhinoceros thesis, which is often taught as a one-sentence (one-horned) statement that you can prove by putting your head down, ignoring bothersome contradictions, and ramming into the reader’s chest with three to five example-paragraphs. Trying to frame an idea in a single sentence, while useful for clarity of conception, often ends up being more restricting than fruitful.

Example: It seems to be especially in response to the Joker that the Batman must take such extraordinary measures, some of which break the law. If we can discover in what ways the Joker is different from the other criminals, perhaps we can better evaluate the Batman’s unlawful actions.

Note: no thesis statement yet. I could put one in, but for this particular essay it wouldn’t make sense yet. What I have done is given the reader a definite sense of direction in my paper’s inquiry, a clear path to a solution. In a different essay, laying out my thesis here might very well work fine. It depends on the essay.

Step 3: Marshal/analyze the evidence. This is usually the main body of the paper. It’s a detailed exposition of what evidence you have already considered in the prewriting 1 stage of your essay process, and what connections you made upon analysis of that evidence, that led you to propose the solution you proposed in step two. Generally, detailed analyses of three to five very specific, organically related items will do the trick. You should briefly outline each of these items separately on the worksheet under (a), (b), (c), (d), (e).

Example: (a) The Joker’s motives are unlike those of other criminals. He murders people randomly, he cares nothing for wealth, and he’s not interested in power in any organized way—he wouldn’t make himself dictator of Gotham City even if he could. He appears to be interested in chaos; in fact every one of his criminal acts appears to function not for personal gain but in order to construct an evil fun house.
(b) The damage the Joker inflicts on Gotham is not fanciful, it’s real and tragic, and outrageously against the law. The job of law enforcement is to stop the Joker.
(c) But Gotham’s law enforcement can’t stop the Joker. He is too big a problem for them to handle. The Joker is beyond the society’s capacity to deal with within the bounds of its justice system.
(d) The Batman, who is willing to work for justice and yet simultaneously outside the legal terms of justice, is needed to battle this heinous madman. The Batman is not above the law, which would imply that he need not pay any attention either to the law’s letter or its spirit. Though he breaks specific laws by specific actions, those actions serve the same greater good which the laws are enacted to serve.
(e) How is Gotham to regard the Batman? How can a law-abiding city condone, much less celebrate, breaking the law in order to uphold it, without opening the floodgates to vigilanteism? The Batman must be considered an outlaw; an outlaw who is also a hero.

Step 4: Conclusion. In this step you tie all the threads of the essay together in this way: In light of the foregoing evidence and analysis in step three, evaluate (i. e. discuss the relative robustness, parsimony, and limitations of) the solution you proposed in step two, as this solution applies to the original problem/question in step one.

Example: An outlaw-hero would appear to be either an oxymoron or a paradox. In the Batman’s case, because his heroism is as authentic as his dark, cave-hidden methods are liable to prosecution, it is a paradox: both statements, outlaw and hero, are true. Commissioner Gordon once spoke of the historical suspicion that F. D.R. knew the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor, and he let the bombing happen, let innocent people die, because he knew it was the only way the U. S. would get into the Second World War to fight the Nazis. Gordon tried to judge whether F. D.R. had done right, but ultimately decided that he “couldn’t judge it. It was too big.” 2 Similarly the Batman breaks strict categories of lawfulness and challenges us to think about existential moral choices: what does it mean to place oneself outside of society’s restrictions, as well as outside society’s protections, and yet act as an agent of that society’s good? Perhaps the fact that the popular imagination tends to read the exploits of the Batman as ultimately heroic implies that there are moral impulses which are harder to define than lawful and unlawful behavior.

Make as many copies of the worksheet as you’d like. Remember to fill in the worksheet before writing out the essay. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t brainstorm, freewrite, etc. in order to come up with ideas; you absolutely should (in fact, this template won’t work if you don’t). But once you have your ideas, structure them into the worksheet. This is essential if you’re under time constraints. If you have plenty of time, use the worksheet merely as a guide, or as a way to check up on the organization of a paper you’ve already written, or however else it is useful to you. If the worksheet gets in your way, do what you would do if you met the Buddha in the road: kill it.