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Concept# Proof (truth)

Summary

A proof is sufficient evidence or a sufficient argument for the truth of a proposition.
The concept applies in a variety of disciplines,
with both the nature of the evidence or justification and the criteria for sufficiency being area-dependent. In the area of oral and written communication such as conversation, dialog, rhetoric, etc., a proof is a persuasive perlocutionary speech act, which demonstrates the truth of a proposition. In any area of mathematics defined by its assumptions or axioms, a proof is an argument establishing a theorem of that area via accepted rules of inference starting from those axioms and from other previously established theorems. The subject of logic, in particular proof theory, formalizes and studies the notion of formal proof. In some areas of epistemology and theology, the notion of justification plays approximately the role of proof, while in jurisprudence the corresponding term is evidence,
with "burden of proof" as a concept common to both philosophy and law.
In most disciplines, evidence is required to prove something. Evidence is drawn from the experience of the world around us, with science obtaining its evidence from nature, law obtaining its evidence from witnesses and forensic investigation, and so on. A notable exception is mathematics, whose proofs are drawn from a mathematical world begun with axioms and further developed and enriched by theorems proved earlier.
Exactly what evidence is sufficient to prove something is also strongly area-dependent, usually with no absolute threshold of sufficiency at which evidence becomes proof. In law, the same evidence that may convince one jury may not persuade another. Formal proof provides the main exception, where the criteria for proofhood are ironclad and it is impermissible to defend any step in the reasoning as "obvious" (except for the necessary ability of the one proving and the one being proven to, to correctly identify any symbol used in the proof.

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Logic

Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of deductively valid inferences or logical truths. It studies how conclusions follow from premises due to the structure of arguments alone, independent of their topic and content. Informal logic is associated with informal fallacies, critical thinking, and argumentation theory. It examines arguments expressed in natural language while formal logic uses formal language.

Evidence

Evidence for a proposition is what supports the proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field to field. In epistemology, evidence is what justifies beliefs or what makes it rational to hold a certain doxastic attitude. For example, a perceptual experience of a tree may act as evidence that justifies the belief that there is a tree. In this role, evidence is usually understood as a private mental state.

Mathematical proof

A mathematical proof is a deductive argument for a mathematical statement, showing that the stated assumptions logically guarantee the conclusion. The argument may use other previously established statements, such as theorems; but every proof can, in principle, be constructed using only certain basic or original assumptions known as axioms, along with the accepted rules of inference. Proofs are examples of exhaustive deductive reasoning which establish logical certainty, to be distinguished from empirical arguments or non-exhaustive inductive reasoning which establish "reasonable expectation".

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