The Philosophy Department employs logic tutors, who are available to you free of charge, by appointment. I will put information about how to contact them here once I have those details nailed down.
Please be aware that these tutors are undergraduates, just like you, and be respectful of their time. If you make an appointment, don’t blow it off (we will share the names of students who do this, and refuse future appointments).
Logic is the study of correct and incorrect reasoning. Logicians want to understand what makes good reasoning good and bad reasoning bad. This helps us avoid making mistakes in our own reasoning, and it allows us to evaluate the reasoning of others. But the importance of logic goes beyond this: it tells us something fundamental about the structure of information; it lies at the foundation of mathematics, linguistics, cognitive science, computer science, and philosophy.
This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts and methods of formal logic. We will explore the logic of ‘not’, ‘if’, ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘if and only if’, ‘every’, and ‘some’. You will learn how to symbolize claims in a way that makes their logical form perspicuous, and you will learn techniques for showing that a given argument is good or bad.
This course is both a GenEd course in the category of Quantitative Reasoning, and a course required for the philosophy major. Here is how the University describes the GE category:
“In Quantitative Reasoning courses, students examine the principles, practices, instruments, and systems of mathematics and logic used to measure, quantify, analyze, and represent social, scientific, technological, and other phenomena as a basis for decision-making.”
Whatever your major, this course will make you a better reasoner. You will learn how to formally represent a given line of reasoning, and how to evaluate whether it is good or bad. You will get better at seeing how different pieces of information can “fit together” to entail new information. Although this course has no writing component, many of you will find that it improves your writing skills, as you get a better sense of how to express your reasons and reasoning more precisely.
Again, no matter your major, this course will give you exposure to and appreciation for the methods of formal logic. Though much of our time will be spent learning how to do logic, we will occasionally step back and reflect on the relevance of logic to broader questions about the nature of language, the role of reason in mathematics, the nature of truth, the nature of rationality, and the possibility of artificial intelligence.
The course will also enable you to read and understand the symbolic formulas of modern formal logic—a skill somewhat akin to the ability to read and understand algebraic formulas. This is valuable in its own right, as it gives you a powerful tool for thinking about the form your reasoning takes, just as algebra gives you a powerful tool for thinking about numerical relationships, and geometry gives you a powerful tool for thinking about spatial relationships. This skill is especially valuable for philosophy majors, as contemporary work in philosophy assumes a basic literacy in symbolic logic.
For the philosophy major, this course can either be seen as a useful supplement to other philosophy courses, or as the gateway to some of the more “technical” fields in contemporary philosophy, such as Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mathematics, and Philosophical Logic, and the more “technical” parts of contemporary Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology (the Theory of Knowledge), Philosophy of Action, and Metaphysics (the Theory of Being).
Software and Text
You do not need to purchase a text for this course. You do need to download a free software program:
The software runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems (if you need help getting it set up on Linux, ask), but it will not run on iOS, Android, or Chrome OS. The software requires Java. Before installing, be sure to read the instructions on the download page for your operating system, and be sure to read the document, Installing, Starting, Registering, and Backing Up in Logic 2010., which is linked to at the top of the download page.
The software is installed on the public computers on floors 2, 4, 5, and 6 of Milner Library and the computer in the Philosophy Department student lounge, Stevenson 412A. It should be possible for you to install it on other public computers for your own use, but that may require a special trick, if you lack administrative access (if interested, ask me about the special trick!).
The software comes with a free online textbook, An Exposition of Symbolic Logic, by Terry Parsons. I will refer to this book as “The Logic Text”. The documentation that comes with the software sometimes refers to it as “The Logic Text” and sometimes as the “Terry Text”. Once you have installed the software, you can access the Logic Text by clicking on the “Logic Text” button. I strongly encourage you to print the text for your own personal use. You can also find links to each chapter of the text on the schedule page.
I have created a partial online supplement to the Logic Text, and I encourage you to read the supplement when you find the Logic Text challenging.
The software and the Logic Text are both based upon a classic logic textbook,
- Donald Kalish, Richard Montague, and Gary Mar (1980). Logic: Techniques of Formal Reasoning, 2nd edition. Harcourt: Fort Worth.
Advanced students may wish to look to that textbook for additional insight and exercises.
Your grade will be based on homework, quizzes, and exams, broken down as follows:
Dates for exams can be found in the schedule.
Logic is a skill, and it takes practice to get good at it. Homework will help give you that practice.
Homework will be due twice a week (with occasional days off). It will usually be completed using the Logic 2010 software and submitted online, and will be due by noon on the day of class. Each problem will be worth 10 points. To receive those points, you must complete the problem correctly. There will be no partial credit for incomplete or incorrect work. But there is partial credit for late work that is complete and correct: each late submission will receive 7 points instead of 10.
This policy is designed to give you both a very good reason to complete each problem on time, and a very good reason to complete problems late when you cannot complete them on time.
Exams will be closed-notes and closed-book and in class, completed without the aid of software.
Students who receive grades below a C- on either midterm will be offered a chance to correct their mistakes. Upon submission of corrections, their grade on that exam will be raised to a C-. For obvious reasons, there will be no opportunity to make corrections on the final exam.
You cannot afford to fall behind in this class. Every term, students come to me late in the term and announce that they are lost. Usually, such students say that they have been lost for quite some time. Often, by the time they come to me, it is simply too late to catch up. If you feel lost, or if you are falling behind, talk to me NOW, not LATER.
The homework and quizzes are meant to give you practice. They are also meant to give you an early warning: if you cannot complete most of the homework most of the time, then you will not be able to pass the exams.
I try to keep the course moving at an appropriate rate: I want most of you to feel challenged, but not overwhelmed. For some of you, this rate will be too fast, and you will be overwhelmed. If this happens to you, please come get help. Come to my office hours, make appointments with me and with the tutors: we are friendly and we are here to help! Experience shows that struggling students who make use of our help do much better than those who do not.
Some of you may find our rate of progress too slow, and begin to get bored. Again, come talk to me: we can only cover so much in class, but logic has a lot to offer.
There are two websites associated with this course:
- Here you will find this syllabus and the supplement to the textbook.
- This is where you go to download the Logic 2010 software. It is also where you go to find homework assignments and check your scores on homework assignments and exams.
Getting in Touch
Email is the best way to reach me when I am not in my office. I am not always online and I cannot always respond immediately. If I have not responded in 24 hours please email me again, letting me know it is your second email (I won’t take this as harassment). Include “112” in the subject line of your email and your full name somewhere in the body of your email, so I know who you are(!), and that the email is related to this class.
There is also a “Feedback” button within the Logic 2010 software, which allows you to send an email both to me and to the authors of the software program. This is a good way to report software bugs or suggested improvements to the software.
Any student needing to arrange a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability should contact Student Access and Accommodation Services at 350 Fell Hall, 309‐438‐5853, http://studentaccess.illinoisstate.edu
Other Sources of Support
Life at college can get very complicated. Students sometimes feel overwhelmed, lost, experience anxiety or depression, struggle with relationship difficulties or diminished self-esteem. Many of these issues can be effectively addressed with a little help. Student Counseling Services (SCS) helps students cope with difficult emotions and life stressors. Student Counseling Services is staffed by experienced, professional psychologists and counselors, who are attuned to the needs of college students. The services are free and completely confidential. Find out more at http://counseling.illinoisstate.edu or by calling 309-438-3655.
Academic integrity is expected and required. Students are expected to be honest in all academic work. A student’s placement of his or her name on any academic exercise shall be regarded as assurance that the work is the result of the student’s own thought, effort, and study.
If you have questions, refer to the Code of Student Conduct, B1 (Academic Integrity), which outlines unacceptable behaviors in academic matters, or talk to me. In certain circumstances (such as cheating or plagiarism) I may be required to refer a student to Community Rights & Responsibilities for a violation of Illinois State University’s Code of Student Conduct.
General Education Objectives
Courses in the Quantitative Reasoning category of General Education address the following program objectives:
- knowledge of diverse human cultures and the physical and natural world, allowing students to
- use theories and principal concepts, both contemporary and enduring, to understand technologies, diverse cultures, and the physical and natural world
- explain how the combination of the humanities, fine arts, natural and social sciences, and technology contribute to the quality of life for individuals and communities
- intellectual and practical skills, allowing students to
- make informed judgments
- analyze data to examine research questions and test hypotheses
- report information effectively and responsibly
- personal and social responsibility, allowing students to
- demonstrate ethical decision making
- demonstrate the ability to think reflectively
- integrative and applied learning, allowing students to
- identify and solve problems
- transfer learning to novel situations
- work effectively in teams
Primary outcomes are indicated in plain text and secondary outcomes are indicated in italics.