Introduction to Symbolic Logic

PHI 333. Syllabus. Welcome to the Course!


PHI 333: Introduction to Symbolic Logic
Required for the Philosophy Major
Satisfies an Area I requirement for the Symbolic, Cognitive and Linguistic Systems Certificate

This course is an introduction to symbolic logic. The course is designed to give students an understanding of the logical structure of sentences, the nature of arguments and theories, logical consequence, validity, and the method of refutation by counterexample.

Assignments and Grades

There are six homework assignments (68 points), a midterm examination (10 points), a final examination (10 points), and six debriefing sessions (12 points). The grades for these assignments sum to determine the letter grade for the course: A+ (100-97), A (96-94), A- (93-90), B+ (89-87), B (86-84), B- (83-80), C+ (79-77), C (76-70), D (69-60), E (59-0).

Unit 1. Atomic Sentences
• Homework 10 points, Debriefing 2 points

Unit 2. Boolean Connectives
• Homework 10 points, Debriefing 2 points

Unit 3. Formal Proofs involving Boolean Connectives
• Homework 15 points, Midterm examination 10 points, Debriefing 2 points

Unit 4. Quantifiers
• Homework 10 points, Debriefing 2 points

Unit 5. Methods of Proof for Quantifiers
• Homework 8 points, Debriefing 2 points

Unit 6. Formal Proofs involving Quantifiers
• Homework 15 points, Final examination 10 points, Debriefing 2 points

There is no possibility for extra credit, but I am happy to help students with independent projects. Late work will not be accepted without good reason. Incompletes are given only to accommodate serious illnesses and family emergencies, which must be adequately documented.

Textbook for the Course

Language, Proof and Logic uses the Fitch-style of natural deduction. This is the traditional style for natural deduction in most introductory courses in symbolic logic. For the Gentzen-style, see Neil Tennant's Natural Logic.


¬P∨¬Q ⊢ ¬(P∧Q) in the Fitch-style (written with the proof checking and editing software used in the course):




¬P∨¬Q ⊢ ¬(P∧Q) in the Gentzen-style (which is easier to read but harder to use in a proof checker and editor):

The required textbook for the course is Language, Proof and Logic, 2nd Edition, by Dave Barker-Plummer, Jon Barwise, and John Etchmendy (CSLI Publications, 2011).

This textbook comes in a "paperless" and "physical" package. The paperless package downloads to your computer. The physical package is the one you can touch. You MUST BUY THE BOOK NEW (in the paperless or physical package) to have access to the online grading service Grade Grinder. This online grading service is REQUIRED for the course. The instant feedback it provides on homework (which is 68 of the 100 points in the course) is invaluable for learning logic and doing well in the course. DO NOT BUY THE BOOK USED.

For helpful information, visit the homepage for the book, the store, and the support page.

How to do Well in the Course

In the "Introduction" to Language, Proof, and Logic, the authors explain how to use Grade Grinder. In the course of this explanation, they offer the following advice:

"[Y]ou can always do a trial submission to see if you got the answers right,
asking that the results be sent just to you. When you are satisfied with your solutions,
submit the files again, asking that the results be sent to the instructor too" (10).

If you want a high grade in the course, you should take this advice. Try not to send your homework to the TA until your answers are right! You increase your chances of getting the answers right if you do not leave the work to the last minute. With only a few exceptions, the assignments are not difficult. They all, however, take time to understand and complete.

Keep in mind also that the book contains more exercises than those assigned for homework. If you want a deep understanding of logic, you should do as many of them as possible.


Contact Information:

Thomas A. Blackson
Philosophy Faculty
School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Lattie F. Coor Hall, room 3356
PO Box 874302
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ. 85287-4302
blackson@asu.edu, tomblackson.com