this is phil 160...

syllabus

  • Instructor: Max Weiss
  • Office hours: Th 4-5, STH 504
  • Email: maxweiss@bu.edu
  • Class meetings: Th 6-9pm, STH B20

Overview

Reasoning is a skill, and improving a skill takes practice. In this course, we will pursue a sustained study of logic. Naturally, you perform logical activities as a matter of course in daily life: framing hypotheses, drawing conclusions, reframing a hypothesis in equivalent terms, specifying something by appeal to its relationships with others. The formal study of logic is a matter of making those familiar practices fully clear and explicit, and investigating their detailed structure. This will take us from the elementary theory of truth-functions all the way through a natural deduction system for predicate logic with equality.

Website

The course website is at

  • http://whythis.net/teaching/f16bu/think

Course resources, including announcements, handouts, solutions to exercises, etc., will be posted here. Similarly the website contains a discussion forum. To access these you'll need to sign up at the site. It's pretty straightforward, but the routine will go like this:

  1. from the course homepage, click signup
  2. at the /signup page, enter a username, your email address and a password
  3. at the subsequent /affiliate page, enter the code gotcha plus your name
  4. check your email, and click on the link in the message you'll shortly receive
  5. reload the course website.

Reading

Notes on formal logic will be circulated in class, and posted on the website as the course unfolds. I will draw many puzzles and examples from books by Raymond Smullyan, including The Riddle of Scheherazade and Logical Labyrinths

Coursework

For the purpose of evaluation, coursework will be weighted as follows:

  • Homework: 2 units
  • Two midterms: 2 units
  • Final exam: 2 units
  • Attendance: 1 unit

Your final mark will be the average of the top six of your marks on the seven units.

Exams

The midterms are scheduled for 13 October and 24 November.

The final exam will be given on 15 December, at 6pm in the same place as the ordinary class meetings.

Exam questions will resemble questions from previous in-class exercises. To ensure that students have an equal chance to prepare, the instructor will answer questions of the form "what will be on the exam" only in class. The final exam will be 'cumulative'.

Homework

Most weeks you will have a short homework assignment to complete. Note that learning logic is like learning a musical instrument: you have to practice. So in this course, working through exercises for yourself will be the essential means by which you make progress. If you get stuck on a question, please let me know! I'm happy to help.

Attendance and participation

This is a small class, and it meets only once a week. This means that we can take a fairly relaxed approach, and you'll get a lot more feedback.

But, it also means that the class will not work unless everybody shows up, on time. If you show up to every class, and are late at most once, then you will get a perfect attendance mark. Beyond that, unexcused absences will result in the deduction from the attendance mark of a letter grade, and late arrivals will result in a deduction from the attendance mark of one third of a letter grade.

Policies

Late assignments

I am happy to grant extensions under extenuating circumstances. But to get an extension, you have to talk to me in advance. Late assignments will not otherwise be accepted.

Academic conduct

Students must observe the MET Code of Academic conduct, posted at http://www.bu.edu/met/metropolitan_college_people/student/resources/conduct/code.html. All suspected violations of the code will be referred to the Dean's Office for adjudication. Students are encouraged to discuss course material with each other, but students must submit only what is theirs as theirs.

Schedule

Note that this is subject to revision!

Unit 0 - introduction

  • 9/8 - introduction
  • 9/15 - informal logic puzzles and natural deduction

Unit 1 - truth-functional logic

  • 9/22 - truth-values, truth-functions and validity; homework 1 due
  • 9/29 - natural deduction for truth-functional logic; hw 2
  • 10/6 - natural deduction continued; hw 3
  • 10/13 - midterm 1

Unit 2 - predicate logic

  • 10/20 - translations into predicate logic
  • 10/27 - semantics and validity; hw 4
  • 11/3 - natural deduction; hw 5
  • 11/10 - natural deduction continued; hw 6
  • 11/17 - midterm 2
  • 11/24 - no class
  • 12/1 - equality
  • 12/8 - definite descriptions; hw 7