The aim of this course is to expose students to the science of logic, that is, to the branch of philosophy concerned with the analysis of arguments. We will concern ourselves, first, with the recognition of arguments and with basic logical concepts, such as truth, validity, soundness, cogency, and strength. We will study informal fallacies so that students can easily recognize and diagnose the logical errors and rhetorical tricks of everyday life. We will then study categorical propositions and syllogisms, how to translate ordinary language statements into such propositions, and how to analyze the validity of these syllogisms. We will also study modern propositional logic. From deductive logic, we will turn to inductive logic and study basic probability theory and decision theory.
By the end of the course, students should be able to express themselves more clearly and precisely. Students should also be able to identify good and bad arguments in various contexts. And they should be able to use logical and philosophical terms – such as ‘truth’, ‘validity’, ‘soundness’ – correctly and be able to drop the occasional term or phrase – such as ‘ignoratio elenchi’, ‘red herring’, ‘tu quoque’, ‘amphiboly’ – for maximum effect. More importantly, students should be able (i) to give formal demonstrations of the validity of deductive arguments, (ii) calculate probabilities and (iii) show, using a decision matrix, which actions or decisions are to be pursued in different cases.