PH111 Half Unit
Introduction to Logic
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Dr Laurenz Hudetz
This course is compulsory on the BSc in Philosophy and Economics, BSc in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available on the BSc in Accounting and Finance. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.
Arguments and inferences play a fundamental role in almost all areas of human life and society. For example, a scientist will test a theory by reasoning that if that theory is true then some other claim, one that can be checked experimentally, must be true as well. Or a politician will defend a policy by putting forward an argument in favour of it and criticising counterarguments. More mundanely, we reason, argue and draw inferences all the time and our actions are guided by the conclusions we draw. We are so used to this that we are often not even aware of it.
Logic is the study of arguments and inferences – it therefore has an enormously broad scope. Its main task is to give an explicit characterisation of those arguments and inferences that are valid (and hence differentiate them from those that are invalid). Logic tells you exactly when some conclusion follows from some premises and when it does not. It turns out that most arguments we encounter in everyday life are far from the ideal of logical validity. However, good philosophers and scientists should be able to devise arguments satisfying that ideal. This skill can also be of great advantage in fields such as law or public policy.
We train this skill based on classical theories of logical consequence. Among other things, the course provides rigorous answers to the following questions.
- What exactly are arguments and inferences and which quality criteria should they satisfy?
- Under what conditions is an argument or inference logically valid?
- How can one demonstrate that an argument or inference is valid?
- How can one demonstrate that an argument or inference is not valid?
The course begins with a simple system called sentential or propositional logic, which despite its simplicity captures a significant range of important arguments. The course then focuses on (first-order) predicate logic, which is much more powerful and provides the logical basis for analysing a great variety of arguments and theories.
15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT.
This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and classes totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures, in-person classes and, if required, virtual classes. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.
Formative coursework will take the form of problem sets and online quizzes. Students are required to complete problem sets before the associated class and to be ready to present and discuss their answers in class. Online quizzes serve as continuous formative assessment.
There will be comprehensive lecture slides and materials covering the entire course content. Indicative background readings include:
- Button, T. and Magnus, P.D. (2017): forall x: Cambridge, URL= < http://www.homepages.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytbu/OERs.html>
- Copi I.M., Cohen, C. and McMahon K. (2014): Introduction to Logic. Pearson.
- Salmon, M.H. (2013): Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking. Wadsworth.
Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the January exam period.
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Total students 2020/21: 179
Average class size 2020/21: 21
Capped 2020/21: No
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
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- Specialist skills