Intro to Symbolic

Introduction to Symbolic Logic

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PHIL0913002, "Introduction to Symbolic Logic"
Rowan University, Fall, 2008
Monday, Wednesday 1:45 - 3:00 p.m., Robinson 323
Instructor, Dr. David Clowney

This course covers the basics of "symbolic" logic, as presented in chapters one, six, seven and eight of Hurley's A Concise Introduction to Logic.  In an effort to save you money, I've had these four chapters prepared by the publisher as a stand-alone custom text for this class. Please buy the text in the bookstore, unless you can get a used copy of the full text, 10th edition only, for less than $85. Other editions won't have the same exercises.

Symbolic logic is formal logic in which special symbols are used to represent certain logical relationships.  The use of such symbols enables us to study the form of good deductive arguments independently from their content. The focus of the course is not on the symbols, but on a rigorous study of the properties of good deductive arguments.

This class is a Rowan Seminar and a Learning Community class. That means that we will spend a certain (limited) amount of time getting oriented to the resources available to you on campus, and to things that will help you succeed at Rowan. While these guided tours are helpful, even more helpful are the relationships you build with fellow students and instructors. Please consider me as one of your resources throughout your time at Rowan.

Course Requirements 

            1. Class attendance and participation

            2. Regular completion of exercises

            3. Assigned reading

            4. Letting me know how you're doing and getting help if you need it

            5. Five chapter tests, frequent quizzes, and a final exam.  

Course Outline 

I. Introduction: Good and bad arguments (Chapter One) - 9/3 - 9/15
            chapter test 9/17

II. The truth-functional logic of statements (Chapter Two) - 9/22 - 10/8
            chapter test 10/13

III. A system of natural deduction for the logic of statements (Chapter Three)
10/15 - 11/10, chapter test 11/12 

IV. The logic of predicates (Chapter Four) 11/17 - 12/10,
chapter test included in final, 12/17, 2:45 - 4:45 pm.


Your grade wiil be the average of your test grades and quiz grades (two quizzes are worth one test). There will be several quizzes, usually announced (but I reserve the right to surprise you). I will sometimes allow retakes. My goal is to help you acquire the skills this course teaches, not to create a standard bell curve distribution of grades. If you are willing to work hard to acquire these skills, I'll do my best to make it happen.

No officially scheduled holidays conflict with any meetings of this class. We will not meet the day before Thanksgiving. If you have acceptable reasons for being absent from a class, please let me know what they are, in advance unless a true emergency prevents advance notice, and I will work with you. Otherwise I expect to see you in class.

How to do well in this course: 

            Of the two introductory logic courses taught at Rowan University, this one places a heavier emphasis on analytic skills, where Logic of Everyday Reasoning places more stress on interpretive skills.  Particularly in chapters seven and eight, the skills you'll need are a lot like those required for doing proofs in plane geometry.  Some people acquire these skills more easily than others.  However, nearly everyone "gets it" eventually.  The key is persistent, regular work.   

            In an informal way you already know what this course teaches, since you'll mostly be learning rules that you use daily without stopping to think about them.  So why bother to stop and think about them?  For the same reason that an athlete needs to be coached and trained: once you know what you're doing, you can learn to do it a lot better.  To follow up on that analogy, the course will be hard in about the same way that being coached is hard.  It is not easy to pay close attention to what you usually do without thinking about it (try writing out directions for tying your shoes, without stopping to physically check each step); and it is even harder to correct habitual mistakes.  Just as with coaching, there may be a time when what you’re learning seems to make things worse rather than better.  Hang in there past that time, and the results will be worth it. 

            The bottom line is this.  Any college student has the basic equipment to pass this course.  Some of you will be naturally better at it than others. A few will ace it, a very few may need a second try to get through it.  But none of you will do well in it unless you come to class faithfully and do your assignments regularly (I recommend some time every day).   

           Tutoring is available at the tutoring center, located in Savitz. Sign up sooner rather than later!

            A final word: if you're drowning, holler for help right away, when it will do some good. 

Office Hours:

My office is on the third floor of Bunce Hall, in the Philosophy and Religion Department's part of the building (Bunce 315). My office hours are Monday and Wenesday, 3:15 - 4:30 pm. I am available at other times also if necessary. Please come see me! You are welcome to drop by any time; but if you want to be sure we connect, please make an appointment.

Computer software 

            A CD accompanies your text.  Included on it is a program called Logic Coach that can be used to work various exercises in the text, and another program called Learning Logic that will help you review.   You will be able to use the software to do practice exercises and to test your work.  I recommend getting familiar with it immediately, so that you will be able to make good use of it when you hit some of the more difficult parts of the course.  Learning Logic is especially helpful, with sample exercises and a thorough review of the same material covered in the text and in lectures.  There is also an online test bank available; I'll give the url for this in class, and will sometimes post warm-up tests and quizzes for you to practice with.

Academic Honesty Policy 

The following policy has been adopted by Rowan University; I commend it to your attention: 

            "The vitality of any academic program is rooted in its integrity.  It is essential to Rowan University that the grades awarded to students only reflect their own individual efforts and achievements.  Each segment of the academic community, i.e., faculty, students, and administration, is responsible for the academic integrity of the college.  Academic dishonesty, in any form, will not be tolerated.  Students found to have committed an act of academic dishonesty may be subject to failure in the course, suspension from the University, or both."

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