INTRODUCTION TO SYMBOLIC LOGIC

PHIL 114, Sec. 1001: TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm in CBC C115
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Spring 2013


Professor: James Woodbridge
email address:
Course Webpage: http://faculty.unlv.edu/jwood/unlv/Phil114S13.htm
Office Hours:  T 4pm-5pm, W 12:30pm-2pm, and by appointment
Office: CDC 426
Office Phone: 895-4051
Dept. Phone: 895-3433


I. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course aims to introduce students to the basic concepts and achievements of modern formal, or symbolic, logic. Symbolic logic is the application of formal, mathematical methods in the study of reasoning. The type of reasoning under consideration is specifically deductive (as opposed to inductive) reasoning. Deductive reasoning gives rise to a rich, abstract theoretical structure that is both of intrinsic interest and practical importance. Identifying general inferential moves that are guaranteed to have true outputs provided they have true inputs improves one's ability to reason effectively about real-world matters, and helps one discover when a line of reasoning is not effective. Beyond its central role as a tool in philosophical inquiry, deductive logic is also important in the foundations of mathematics and computer science, and in linguistics, psychology, and artificial intelligence. The material covered in this course will include such topics as the nature and general features of deductive arguments, argument validity and soundness, symbolization, truth-functional logical (Boolean) connectives, quantifiers, checking argument validity using truth-tables, giving counterexamples, and constructing formal deductive proofs. Throughout, the main focus of our inquiry is the nature of the relation of logical consequence or "following from". To this end we will examine logical consequence and nonconsequence in an artificial formal language (the language of first-order logic, or FOL) that captures certain formal aspects of our talk and thought in a particularly perspicuous way.


II. REQUIRED CLASS MATERIALS

Books:
Baker-Plummer, D., Barwise, J. and Etchemendy, J. Language, Proof and Logic, (Second Edition). Stanford:  CSLI Publications, 2011.

Note: The book comes with a software CD-ROM. This software cannnot be shared or reused.
Everyone must purchase his or her own textbook/software combination.

The book and software for the course is available at The UNLV Bookstore.

III. CLASS REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING SCHEME

Requirements .............................................Percent of Final Grade

Participation................................................................10%
Homework..................................................................15%
First Test.....................................................................20%
Second Test.................................................................25%
Final Exam..................................................................30%

About the Requirements:

Participation—This requirement is designed to take into account contributions during class (e.g., asking questions, suggesting moves for proofs done in class, etc.) and improvement throughout the term.

Homework—This requirement covers completion of and performance on the homework assignments. The homework serves to provide practice with the techniques presented in class, so it is crucial that you keep up with the assignments. These assignments will mostly be done on the computer through the software that comes with the book; it will then be graded via submission to an on-line grading program. No late assignments will be accepted.

The First Test—There will be a timed, in-class, pen-and-paper (i.e., not on a computer) test in late February.  The test questions will include problems like those on the homework assignments (but here written out by hand), as well as questions concerning definitions and concepts we have covered.

The Second Test—There will be a second timed, in-class, pen-and-paper test in late March or early April.  Again, the test questions will include problems like those on the homework assignments, as well as questions concerning definitions and concepts we have covered.

The Final Exam—There will be a timed, in-class, pen-and-paper final exam given Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 3:10pm.  Because of the nature of the course material, the final will essentially be cumulative, but it will emphasize the material from the latter half of the course.  Again, the exam questions will include problems similar to those from the homework as well as some pertaining to definitions and concepts.

Note: All requirements must be satisfactorily completed in order to pass the course.

IV. CLASS FORMAT

The class will consist mostly of lectures, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and sample exercises. However, I want to encourage student participation throughout the class--both in the form of questions and suggestions about how to approach problems we are considering. Class meetings will typically consist of two different (not necessarily equal) parts: one in which I will lecture on the material you have read about for the day and work some sample problems, and one in which I will answer questions about problems from homework assignments that students would like to go over.

V. CLASSROOM ETIQUETTE

In recent years it has become necessary to make a further comment about classroom etiquette. Engaging in activities like text messaging, surfing the web, checking Facebook, tweeting, IMing, etc. during class is entirely inappropriate. In fact, it is extremely rude and highly disrespectful of our joint enterprise of teaching and learning. Whether you are sitting in the back and presume you are not interfering with anyone else is irrelevant. It is not a question of what you are caught doing; it is a matter of what you do, noticed or not. I expect everyone to behave appropriately during class, engaging with our cooperative project and refraining from inappropriate activities at all times.


VI. TOPICS

Almost all of the readings and homework assignments will be from the textbook, Language, Proof and Logic, by Baker-Plummer, Barwise and Etchemendy. The reading assignments will be listed on the course webpage by chapter and section number, along with page numbers (in parentheses). Homework assignments will be listed by their numbers. There will also be some additional material distributed on handouts through the course webpage.

The general topics covered in the course (and their likely order of presentation) are as follows: