What is the course about?
Consider the sentences:
(1) If it is raining, then I will get wet.
(2) It is raining.
From (1) and (2), I can infer ‘I will get wet’, whereas I cannot infer ‘All dogs bark’. So, there is a right way and a wrong way to reason. If you infer ‘All dogs bark’ from (1) and (2), then you are reasoning incorrectly.
Philosophical logic is the study of the rules of correct reasoning. This course will introduce you to some widely accepted rules of correct reasoning and teach you how to describe these rules with mathematical precision. We will also examine some controversial rules of inference and probe the deeper question of why exactly we should accept some inferences and not others.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- The history of logic, from Aristotle to Frege.
- The relationship between formal languages, invented by logicians, and natural languages such as English.
- A language and proof system for classical propositional logic, the simplest widely used and studied logic.
- A language and proof system for classical first-order logic, a much more advanced and powerful logic.
- Some important metalogical results i.e. mathematical results regarding formal languages.
- Some major debates between classical and non-classical logicians.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Define key terms in the study of logic.
- Determine whether an argument is valid or invalid in classical propositional and first-order logic.
- Explain the significance of important metalogical results, such as soundness and completeness.
- Assess the arguments for and against deviations from classical logic.
- Use logical methods to tackle philosophical puzzles and paradoxes.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for all levels, including those who have never studied philosophy before. Some elements of the course will involve a little bit of basic mathematics, but you do not need to have studied any mathematics previously.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Reading will be set for each class. The reading is not compulsory, but students are likely to get more out of the course if they complete the reading each week. Classes will take the form of facilitated discussions. The first half will typically involve an interactive lecture covering the main themes and ideas from the reading and then the second half will open up the topic to a class discussion.
For students who wish to stretch themselves, mathematical exercises will be made available through an online classroom.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will be provided with all of the necessary reading, so you do not need to purchase a textbook. A notepad and pen to take notes during the classes will be essential.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might be interested in HP153 - Love, sex and robots: a philosophical investigation, which starts in April 2021.