this is phil 160...

syllabus

  • Instructor: Dr. Max Weiss

  • Email: maxweiss@bu.edu

  • Office hours: Th 4-5, STH 504

  • Class meetings: Th 6-9pm, CAS 220

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://www.whythis.net/teaching/s17bu/think/

Course resources, including readings, assignments and solutions, scheduling information, et.c, will all be posted here. 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 hmm plus your name

  4. check your email, and click on the link in the message you’ll shortly receive

  5. reload the course website.

Coursework

For the purpose of evaluation, coursework is divided into components. The components will be weighted as follows:

  • Attendance: 1 unit

  • Reading quizzes: 1 unit

  • Homework: 2 units

  • Midterm: 1 unit

  • Final exam: 2 units

You will get a letter grade on each component. In computing your final grade, I will drop one unit from that component with the lowest letter grade.

When I compute letter grades for each component, you have the following guarantees:

  • If you get at least \(90\%\), then you are guaranteed an \(A\);

  • if you get at least \(80\%\), then you are guaranteed at least a \(B\); and

  • if you get at least \(70\%\), then you are guaranteed at least a \(C\).

In each case these are lower bounds on the letter grade you may get. If an assignment turns out to be trickier than expected, your letter grade may be higher.

Reading

All reading assignments will be posted on the course website. The readings will in general be short by number of pages—perhaps three or four pages per week—but you should expect to spend some time with them. Some concepts in the course will be subtle, and it is important for you to master all details.

The readings include short multiple-choice quizzes to be submitted online. These are intended to be a routine way for you to check that you have gotten the basic concepts.

Homework

There will be a total of ten homework assignments, each due, in hard copy, at the beginning of a scheduled class meeting. Generally, it will be best that you to write out the homework by hand.

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 some question or concept, please let me know! I’m happy to help. Indeed I actually enjoy talking about logic, and it is very useful for me to learn how things are going with you.

Exams

The midterm is scheduled for 2 March.

The final exam will be given on 11 May, at 6pm in the same place as the ordinary class meetings.

Exam questions will resemble questions from previous homework. 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’.

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 whole 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 will post homework solutions on the course website shortly after their due date. Homework will not be accepted after solutions have been posted.

Your grade on the homework will be the average of your top nine homework assignment marks.

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

  • 1/19 - introduction

  • 1/26 - informal logic and the method of deduction

Unit 1 - truth-functional logic

  • 2/2 - introduction to truth-functional logic: grammar and meaning

  • 2/9 - the space of all possible worlds for truth-functional logic

  • 2/16 - natural deduction 1

  • 2/23 - natural deduction 2

  • 3/2 - midterm

Unit 2 - predicate logic

  • 3/16 - possible worlds as structures

  • 3/23 - grammar

  • 3/30 - translation

  • 4/06 - meaning

  • 4/13 - validity

  • 4/20 - natural deduction

  • 4/27 - equality: meaning and translation