PHI 201 Introductory Logic

Fall 2002


Professor: Hans Halvorson
E-mail: hhalvors
Phone: 8-1494
Office hours: Mon 3:30-4:30pm (205 Marx Hall), Tues 7:45-8:15pm (Frist Cafe).  To set up an appointment, please e-mail me with a proposed time by at least 7pm the previous day.

Assistants in Instruction:

 E-mail Phone Office Hours Office (1879 Hall)
Jeff Kepple
jkepple 8-4292 TBA 114
Gabe Mendlow
mendlow 8-1486 Thurs 1:30-2:30pm (Frist Cafe) 227 (Tower Room)
Jozef Muller
jmuller 8-4303 Tues 2:30-4:00pm 111

Prerequisites: This course has no formal prerequisites, but it does draw on quantitative reasoning skills.

Course Description: An "argument" occurs whenever someone makes a claim, and attempts to back this claim up by providing evidence. Producing and evaluating arguments is a (if not "the") central feature of all intellectual endeavors — we produce arguments in order to try to convince others of our opinions, and we try to distinguish between good and bad arguments when deciding which opinions to take seriously. But what makes one argument "good" and another "bad"? This course will develop a systematic and objective answer to that question.

The primary focus of this course will be on deductive arguments — those in which the premises are supposed to provide absolutely decisive evidence for the conclusion. We will see that a wide range of good deductive arguments can be reduced to a few basic patterns. We will develop formal (i.e., symbolic) methods that will allow us to recognize these patterns easily, and then to further investigate their properties. At the same time, these techniques will improve your skill and confidence in producing arguments.

Course Objectives: By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Recognize the meaning of sentences in FOL (including the ability to determine whether a sentence is true or false in a given situation).
  • Translate between English and FOL.
  • Determine whether an argument is valid or invalid.
  • Construct valid arguments (i.e., proofs).
  • Construct counterexamples to show that an argument is invalid.

Lectures: Mon & Wed, 1:30–2:20pm; Friend Center 101. The schedule of lectures can be found in the Syllabus — check the course website for updates to the schedule. Lectures will assume that you have already read the material that is the topic of the lecture.

Precepts: Precepts meet one hour per week. Precepts will be devoted to working on problems, and to discussing philosophical issues that arise in the lecture. Your preceptor may choose to determine part of your homework grade based on precept participation.

Precept cards will be filled out during the first lecture, and assignments will be posted by Monday, 09.16 on the bulletin board in the Philosophy Department (1879 Hall) and on the course website, in the "Course Information" section. We will make every effort to assign you a precept that fits your schedule. However, this is sometimes very difficult, and your schedule might also change during the first couple of weeks of the semester. So, if your original precept assignment turns out to be a hardship, you can request a change into a different section by sending e-mail to the Keeper of the Precept List (Jeff Kepple: jkepple). However, the Keeper will not enroll more than 14 students in a single precept.  **If you decide to drop the course, please notify the Keeper so that he can delete your name from the precept list.**

Precepts will begin meeting after the lecture on Wednesday, 09.18. So, the first meeting of your precept will be sometime between Wednesday, 09.18 at 2:30pm and Wednesday, 09.25 at 1:30pm. If you are waiting for a reply concerning a requested precept change, then you should attend your originally assigned precept — unless this precept conflicts with the lecture for another course, in which case you may attend the precept you have requested to enter. If you are still unsure of your precept assignment at the time the first homework assignment is due, you should submit your assignment (with an accompanying note) to the Professor.

Textbook and Software Package:

J. Barwise and J. Etchemendy, Language, Proof and Logic.  CSLI Publications/University of Chicago Press (2002). 

Publisher's Webpage:
LPL webpage:

You must purchase a new copy of this book (in order to obtain a license to use the software). You will also need to have daily access to an internet-connected computer. The course software is available on all Princeton computer clusters; but in order to use the Submit program, you will need to have your book identification code.

Requirements and Grades:

Homework Assignments (9 total)
and Precept Participation
Midterm Exam (In Class) 25%
Final Exam (In Class) 35%

A record of your grades is accessible to you (and the instructors, but not to other students) from the course website: Click on "Check Grade" in the "Student Tools" section, or click on "My Grades" from your Blackboard entry page.

Homework: There will be approximately one homework assignment per week. See the Syllabus for the schedule of assignments — check the course website for updates to the schedule. Your preceptor will grade your homework — when using the Submit program, you should have reports sent to your preceptor's e-mail address, and written portions of homework should be turned in either directly to your preceptor, or to his mailbox in room 211 of 1879 Hall. (Note: 1879 Hall is typically unlocked only from 8:30am to 4:45pm.) You should always label written homework with your name, your preceptor's name, and your precept time. Late homework assignments will not be accepted. If you have a medical emergency, please contact your preceptor before the deadline to make arrangements. Your graded homework will be returned either (a) to you during your precept, or (b) to the black course mailboxes in the downstairs hallway between 1879 and Marx Halls. So, to be clear: The preceptors' mailboxes are on the second floor of 1879 Hall, and the black course mailboxes are on the first floor of 1879 Hall. Therefore, you should never deposit your homework in a box on the first floor.

Academic Integrity: Written examinations are conducted under the honor system. An instructor will drop off the exam and stay to answer questions for a few minutes, but there will be no proctor. With regard to out-of-class work, students are expected to follow Princeton's academic integrity policies. In this course, you are encouraged to consult with each other concerning homework assignments. However, the details of any solution should represent your own work. In particular, you should never, under any circumstances, copy another student's homework. Note: The Grade Grinder program can detect if you submit a file created by another student.

Disability Information: If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you should notify the Professor (as well as the appropriate administrative offices).

Grievance Procedures: Grievance procedures are described in Princeton's handbook Rights, Rules, Responsibilities.  If you have a grievance against one of the Assistants in Instruction, you should first attempt to resolve it directly with him. If this fails, you should contact the Professor. If you have a grievance against the Professor, you should first attempt to resolve it directly with him. If this fails, you should contact the chair of the Philosophy Department (Professor Mark Johnston), or the office of the Dean of Faculty.