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Instructor: Ralph Flanders. This course meets MTWRF 1:15 – 2:45 p.m. via remote synchronous (RS) instruction.

Some valid arguments are easy to spot. For example:

(1) All men are mortal
(2) Socrates is a man
Therefore (3) Socrates is mortal

That argument looks valid from a mile away. On the other hand, some arguments are obviously invalid. For example:

(4) If you are a very nice person you will have lots of friends on social media
(5) Beatrice has lots of friends of social media
Therefore (6) Beatrice must be a very nice person

Hopefully you’re thinking: ‘Wait, there are lots of not-so-nice people who have plenty of friends on social media’. So, the inference from (4) and (5) to (6) isn’t a good one.

Unfortunately, not all arguments are as easy to evaluate as these two. To help us think about validity in a clear and systematic way logicians have developed formal languages that can be used to model some of the arguments we find in English (and other natural languages). These formal languages allow us to evaluate deductive arguments that are too complicated to take in at a glance.

In this course we’ll be working with some these formal languages: we’ll learn how to translate arguments from English into propositional and quantificational logic and how to assess for validity once we’re there. In some ways this course is like a math course (e.g. it has problem sets instead of papers), but there will also be opportunities to reflect philosophically on the nature of logic and valid reasoning.