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Instructor: Kate Nolfi. This course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in Caldwell 105.

This course will be an introduction to symbolic logic. In many disciplines and in everyday life, we construct and evaluate all sorts of arguments for all sorts of claims. The central question we’ll be concerned with in this course is: what makes an argument a good argument? We will focus on a particular good-making feature of certain arguments, namely their validity. Valid arguments are ones whose conclusions logically follow from their premises. Throughout the course, we’ll discover several valid argument patterns and learn how to prove certain things using those argument patterns. We’ll do this by first learning to speak a formal language, the language of first-order logic, and how to translate between this language and ordinary English. In the first half of the course, we’ll be looking at predicate logic, or the logic of sentences with a simple subject-predicate form; in the second half of the course, we’ll be looking at quantificational logic, or the logic of sentences involving quantifiers. By the end of the course, students will be able to speak our formal language, and evaluate arguments in that language for validity. The goal of the class is to introduce students to the immense power of this approach to evaluating arguments in clarifying our everyday reasoning.

Textbook information: Language, Proof and Logic, Jon Barwise and John Etchemendy, ISBN 1-57586-374-X.

Please note: Students MUST buy a new copy of this text as we will use the accompanying software to submit weekly problem sets and this software will not work if one purchases a used copy of the book.

Kate Nolfi’s webpage