The Limits of Logic

t’s an easy morning outside Washington, DC. But we’re making things hard on an Army student.

“Good plan,” we say. “Now give us another.”

The student’s brow furrows. What he’s wondering is: Why would I come up with another plan when my first plan is good? But he’s a dutiful soldier, so he tries to comply. And it’s there that he hits his real mental block: How do I come up with another plan when my first plan is good? After all, if nothing is wrong with my first plan, then what could be productively changed?

That the student would think this way is pure logic. Logic’s core teaching is that there’s one optimal decision, one error-free plan. If that plan has been identified already, it’s thus not only pointless but impossible to come up with a smart alternative. Yet is logic right about this? Is there always one ideal course of action?

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