Instructor: Dean Pettit. This course meets MWF 9:05 – 9:55 a.m. in HM 452.
This course is an introduction to the study of formal logic. Logic is concerned with reasoning. Reasoning is something we do in any area of intellectual inquiry—mathematics, philosophy, physics, biology, economics, linguistics, sociology, and so on. Yet it is also something we employ in everyday life, solving practical problems, drawing inferences about how things are or might be, predicting other people’s behavior, and the like. Although reasoning is the subject matter of logic, logic is not concerned with reasoning in the way psychology is. Psychologists study the way we actually reason. Often we actually reason badly about certain things. Logic is concerned, not with the way we actually reason, but with how we should reason. Logic aims to distinguish good reasoning from bad, valid reasoning from invalid. In this course we will learn the formal methods that logicians use to represent and evaluate forms of reasoning. Along the way we will confront some philosophical issues about the nature of logic. What is it that distinguishes good reasoning from bad? Are the rules of logic something we discover, or do we merely invent them?