Logic Chapter Zero
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DML with complicated sentences

This page will mainly cover the material I covered in the first lecture. If you missed that lecture, you should read this page!

An easily printable ".rtf" version of this file is available at logic00text.rtf. Make sure your word processor is set to 0.5" (one half-inch) margins.
(I may not be able to make rtfs for all my chapter, so make sure you tell me if the rtf files help you.)

Catalog Description: PHIL 170 C LOGIC AND CRITICAL THINKING 3 Units Three hours lecture per week. UC/CSU, AA GE, CSU GE, CAN PHIL 6 This course is an introduction to the elementary techniques of argument analysis and evaluation. The course includes such topics as standard form and argument patterns; deduction, validity, and soundness; truth-functional arguments, truth-tables, and natural deduction; quantificational arguments; categorical syllogisms and Venn Diagrams; truth; induction, strength, and cogency; sampling arguments, causal arguments, statistical syllogisms, analogical arguments, and explanatory arguments; the probability calculus; formal and informal fallacies; and definition, language, and meaning.

Objectives: Upon completion of this course the student will be able to:
1. Understand basic logical vocabulary and concepts.
2. Understand and apply basic techniques of logical analysis
3. Evaluate deductive arguments by truth table, world construction, analogy and derivation.
4. Evaluate inductive arguments by criteria appropriate to the type of argument.
5. Understand and recognize common logical fallacies.

1. (Required) www.madwizard.com/logic00.htm and linked pages as I direct.
2. Your own college-ruled paper, with straight edges. (For quizzes, so NO spiral bound / ragged edges.)

Study all assigned reading. Even if you don't understand all of it, keep studying it! Participate in class discussion by critical listening, commenting, questioning and responding.
Two "Monsters of Wrangling" directed partial debates
One closed book final exam.
No make-ups, except exceptional circumstances, with penalty, at sole discretion of instructor.
Failure to complete all of the underlined requirements will result in failure of the course.

Attendance and Participation: There are two class periods in every week. Since the class meets once a week, that will be one period before the break and another one after. Each period missed costs 10 points. Missing a week costs 20 points. Missing just one day can turn a C into a D. Five days can turn an A into a C. So there! Bring everything to class.

Late Work: I reserve the right to refuse to accept late work. In general, late work, if accepted, will receive some kind of penalty. No work whatsoever will be accepted after the last lecture/discussion period. The day of the final is too late, and work proffered on that date will not be accepted.

Drop Policy: If you decide to drop this class, filing the appropriate paperwork is your responsibility. Make sure you take care of this or you might end up with an F instead of a W. Call me if you have a question. Students who just quit coming usually get an "F".

Classroom Etiquette: Arrive early to get ready. Don't be late. Don't put things away until after you're dismissed. No conversations, pagers or cellphones. Bathroom before class. Bring everything to class.

Disabilities: Students with verified disabilities requiring accommodation should make a specific request of the instructor in a timely manner, preferably at the beginning of the semester and at least one week prior to need.

Wrangling: is neither a debate nor a presentation. It is an in-class exercise in which we practice working our way deeper and deeper into various complicated questions. We don't get very far, but we do practice the kinds of moves that, if applied consistently and thoroughly, tend most strongly to lead to truth.

Your Progress: From time to time your current grade will be at www.madwizard.com/grades.prn

Honesty: Working with other students is recommended, cheating will not be tolerated. "Working with" is meeting with other students to talk over the issues, quiz each other, critique each other's work etc. "Cheating" is turning in someone else's work as your own. See me if you have any questions. (See Academic Honesty Policy.)

Academic Freedom: Students and faculty have constitutionally protected freedom of speech. This class should provide a supportive forum where you can develop and defend your own ideas. While your work will be graded on your ability to think critically and rigorously, you won't be graded on the content of your opinions.

Knowledge vs. Opinion: "Opinion" means whatever you choose to believe. "Knowledge" means whatever can be backed up with solid, irrefutable evidence and argument. This class is about knowledge, not opinion. You are entitled to express your opinions, but you are not entitled to claim that your opinion is knowledge when you can't back it up. You don't have to change your personal opinions, but you do have to say what the evidence and argument presently available supports, even if your personal opinion is different.

The syllabus is a contract between you and the college. You are responsible for knowing what it says.

All assigned web pages are on the site www.madwizard.com

Logic is the study of reasoning, which means that it's mostly concerned with how to tell good reasoning from bad reasoning. Good reasoning is any way of thinking that is likely to come up with correct conclusions, bad reasoning is any way of thinking that is unlikely to come up with correct conclusions. That doesn't mean that good reasoning can't come up with a wrong conclusion, or that bad reasoning can't come up with a correct conclusion. Just that good reasoning is likely to come up with the right answer, and bad reasoning isn't.

Logic is not hard to learn. But it looks hard to some people because you have to learn it in a different way from most other subjects. Learning logic isn't like learning geography or history. You're already familar with things being one place and not another, things happening and causing other things to happen. History and geography (to start with anyway) are just a matter of learning more and more facts and details. Logic is different. It's more like mathematics. To learn logic effectively you have to learn a new and different ("logical") way of thinking. Once you've adjusted, logic becomes fairly simple, and often obvious. It isn't hard to pick up logical thinking (you may even have it already) but until you do, logic looks dark, mysterious, and incomprehensible. Which makes it a lot like music or pottery or other arts. To help you begin to see things the "logical" way, I'm going to take a lot of time over important concepts, and make things as simple as I can. Even so, if there's anything you don't understand, please ask me about it!

Logic is the thing that makes the difference between knowledge and opinion. Knowledge is stuff we have really good reason to think is true. Opinion is whatever somebody happens to think is true. Everyone is entitled to her own opinions about anything. No-one is entitled to say that her opinion is knowledge unless she can back that opinion up with logic.


Since we can't look inside people's heads, we study logic by looking at what people say to each other when they try to change each other's minds. Here's some basic terminology.

A proposition is a thing that could conceivably be true, although it may or may not actually be true. "Roses are red" is a proposition. So are "some roses are not red," "I like chocolate," "my dog might be a communist," "all cats are evil," "smoking is bad for you," "there is intelligent life on other planets" and "donuts have no calories." Some propositions are true, some are false, some we don't yet know about, but all of them can be true or false. Statements that can't be true or false, like "come here," "ouch," and "what is that thing?" are not propositions.

A claim is a proposition that someone (maybe you, maybe me, maybe somebody else) is saying is true. No matter what a proposition says, it's not a claim unless someone, somewhere, says that it's true.

An argument happens when someone backs up a claim with other claims. Imagine that Mutt is trying to convince Jeff that single-malt whiskey is nature's perfect food. Jeff is initially skeptical, (because if Jeff just nods and says "I agree," then Mutt needs no argument), so Mutt makes other claims that he thinks will change Jeff's mind. (Imagine that Mutt points out that single-malt has complex carbohydrates and contains a very large number of calories.) These claims taken all together make up Mutt's argument.

The conclusion of an argument is whatever claim the "arguer" (the person making the argument) wants his or her listener (or reader) to believe. The premises are the other claims (or just claim) he or she offers as reasons for the listener to change his or her mind and believe the conclusion. So "single-malt whiskey is the perfect food" is Mutt's conclusion and "it has many calories" and "it contains complex carbohydrates" are his premises. We can make this clear by laying out the argument in what's called standard form.

Premise 1                         Single-malt whiskey has many calories.
Premise 2                         Single-malt whiskey contains complex carbohydrates.
Conclusion                       Single-malt whiskey is the perfect food.

The claims that lie above the line are the premises. The one below is the conclusion. There's no standard number of premises. An argument can can have just one premise, or three, or more.

Copyright 2004 by Martin C. Young

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