PHI 201 Introductory Logic

Spring 2004

Schedule | Handouts | Precepts | Links


Web page:

Professor: Hans Halvorson
E-mail: hhalvors
Phone: 8-1494
Office hour: Thu 3:30-4:30 in Marx Hall, Room 205.

Assistants in Instruction:

<email> at princeton Office (1879 Hall) Office Hours
Jessica Boydjboyd 110
Heather Collisterhcollist 111 Thu 2-4
Sarah Jane Lesliesjleslie 114
Brett Shermanbsherman 110 Thu 11-12

Prerequisites: None.

Course Description

An "argument" occurs whenever someone attempts to back up a claim 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 to adopt beliefs, and when we are being rational, we try to base our beliefs on good arguments. But what exactly is it that distinguishes good arguments from bad arguments? This course will develop a systematic and objective answer to that question.

The primary focus of this course is deductive arguments, where the premises are supposed to provide absolutely decisive evidence for the conclusion. As we will see, a very broad 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 should improve your skill and confidence in producing arguments.

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

  • Uncover the logical form of natural language sentences; translate back and forth between natural language and the symbolic language.
  • Reliably determine whether arguments are valid or invalid based on their truth-functional or quantifier structure.
  • Demonstrate the validity of arguments by constructing proofs.
  • Demonstrate the invalidity of arguments by constructing counterexamples.

Lectures: Tues & Thurs, 10:00–10:50am in Lewis Thomas Lab, Room 003. In order to benefit from the lectures, you should have already read the material on the syllabus listed for that day.

Precepts: Precepts meet one hour per week, beginning the second week of classes. Precept cards will be filled out during the first lecture, and assignments will be posted by Thursday, Feb 5 on the bulletin board in the Philosophy Department (1879 Hall) and on the course website. 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 (bsherman). (However, precepts are limited to between seven and ten students each.) **If you decide to drop the course, please notify the Keeper so that he can delete your name from the precept list.** 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.

Required Textbook: E. J. Lemmon, Beginning Logic; and handouts from the instructor.

Optional Reading: If you would like to have a companion that is not as terse as Lemmon, we suggest Paul Tomassi's Logic, available at most online bookstores.

Requirements and Grades: No P/D/F.

  • Homework Assignments: 40%
    There will be approximately one homework assignment per week. Your homework should be turned in either directly to your preceptor, or to her/his mailbox in room 211 of 1879 Hall. Please label written homework with your name, your preceptor's name, and precept time. Illegible homework will be penalized. Late homework will be accepted only in case of a medical emergency.
  • Midterm Exam (In Class): 25%. Warning: You will be under time-pressure on the midterm exam. The way to deal with this issue is by practicing a lot in the weeks leading up to the exam.
  • Final Exam (In Class): 35%

You can access a record of your grades from the Blackboard course website: Click on "Check Grade" in the "Student Tools" section, or click on "My Grades" from your Blackboard entry page.

Academic Integrity: In-class examinations are closed-book, closed-notes, and your behavior is to be governed by the honor code. Homework assignments must represent your own work. If you have any questions about what resources you are permitted to use on a homework assignment, please ask your instructor.

Disability Information: If you have a disability, you should notify the Professor and the appropriate administrative offices at the beginning of the semester so that we can make accommodations for you.

Grievance Procedures are described in Princeton's Rights, Rules, Responsibilities handbook.

Last modified: May 13, 2004