introduction to symbolic logic

course description

Logic is the science of correct reasoning.  Instead of assessing each argument on a case-by-case basis, logicians try to generalize about good and bad forms of reasoning.  However, most arguments occur in everyday language in informal contexts, full of vagueness and ambiguity.  For this reason, logicians have developed formal symbolic systems of reasoning which attempt to remove these forms of unclarity and render reasoning more precise. 

The primary goal of this course is to train you to use two of these formal symbolic systems, propositional logic and predicate logic.  We will practice translating informal English sentences into symbolic notation and study formal techniques of reasoning to determine what conclusions logically follow from a set of premises, and whether given arguments are valid or invalid.  Because our goal is to train you to use these formal systems of reasoning, we will spend a great deal of time practicing translations and proofs.  While we will touch on a number of interesting philosophical issues in the course, our main goal is to teach you a particular skill—proficiency with symbolic logic—which takes quite a lot of practice with formalized notation and proof methods.  As such, you may find this course more like a typical math course than a typical philosophy course

Syllabus (winter mini-mester version)