PHIL 110 Introduction to Logic and Reasoning

Summer Semester 2011 | DAY


INSTRUCTOR: Kent Schmor, WMX 5605


  • Virginia Klenk, Understanding Symbolic Logic, fifth edition (2007). ISBN: 013205152


According to the standard university catalogue description, logic is the study of truthfunctional and quantificational validity. The problem with this sort of description, however, is that one needs to have already taken the course to be in a position to understand what it means. In a more informal vein, we might try to characterize logic as the study of basic reasoning. However, this description is misleading in various directions. Logic, in contrast to empirical psychology, is not concerned with how we actually reason. Nor is it a practical how-to-think course. The study of logic is far too abstract to be immediately applicable to the sundry affairs of everyday life.

Our investigations will begin with the abstract analysis of language designed to reveal the logical form of statements and arguments. This analysis will take the form of learning to paraphrase English statements by sentences of a more perspicuous notation, sentence which straightforwardly exhibit their logical form. This portion of the course will be a bit like learning a foreign language. Armed with our analysis of logical form, we will proceed to a rigorous definition of validity.

This agenda splits into two main units of study. The first unit treats truth-functional logic, those aspects of logical structure which emerge out of reflection on the argumentative functioning of such English expressions as “and,” “not,” “either…or,” and “if…then.” The second unit combines the results of our study of truth-functional form with an examination of the logical structure induced on discourse by such words as “every,” “each,” “all,” “some,” “none,” and “it” – words essential for the expression of generality.

Logic may sound like a dull subject. After all, “and,” “not,” and “every” are dull words compared with those that occupy our attention in other courses, words like “reality,” “god,” “justice,” “inflation,” “leveraged buyout,” “circuit,” “molecule,” “differential equation,” “sex,”

and “love.” But our humble logical words occur in discourse on every subject matter whatsoever. The notion of logical notation defined by reference to our employment of such words defines a framework to which thought on any subject matter must conform on pain of incoherence. In studying logic, we study what can be seen as underlying the specialized sciences and disciplines you study in other courses. The interest in logic lies in its peculiar abstractness and in the marriage of that abstractness with mathematical rigor. The study of logic may or may not improve your reasoning. It will, however, teach you something about what it is to reason, what it is to think at all.



  • Attendance & Participation: 10%
  • Homework assignments: 20%
  • First midterm exam: 20%
  • Second midterm exam: 20%
  • Final exam: 30

Note: Philosophy 110 has no prerequisites. It can be used to fulfill Q-requirements and may be applied towards the Certificate in Liberal Arts.