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Symbolic Logic

Logic is the science of evaluating arguments. This class introduces students to both informal and formal logic. In this class, we will approach good reasoning as a skill that can be improved by study and, crucially, by practice. We will begin our study with informal logic, starting with how arguments are constructed. We will focus on identifying the various parts of arguments and their logical relations (What is a conclusion? What are premises? What does it mean for one proposition to support another?). Next, we’ll spend some time thinking about meaning and definitions. We will also learn about many common reasoning errors or logical fallacies. In the second part of the course, we will turn our attention to formal logic, beginning with categorical syllogisms and using Venn diagrams to test for validity. We will then proceed to propositional logic, where students will practice translating sentences from ordinary English to logic and will learn to test for validity by using truth tables and by natural deduction. In the final section of the course, we will study two topics in informal logic: analogical and causal reasoning.