Symbolic Logic
Philosophy 16, Mathematics 16, Computer Science 16

1:00-2:20 MTh Peter Suber
Carpenter 322 Spring 1996-97


The only required text for this course is Irving Copi, Symbolic Logic, fifth edition, Macmillan, 1979.

I've created a course homepage containing a collection of hand-outs and course-related web links at If you find any other relevant links, let me know and I'll add them to the collection.

Sections from Copi cited for a given day will be covered that day in class and should have been read in advance. Material in parentheses is recommended but not required.

Week 1. January 13-17

Week 2. January 20-24

Week 3. January 27-31

Week 4. February 3-7

Week 5. February 10-14

Week 6. February 17-21

Week 7. February 24-28

Week 8. March 3-7

Week 9. March 10-14

Week 10. March 17-21

Week 11. March 24-28

Week 12. March 31 - April 4

Week 13. April 7-11

Week 14. April 14-18

Week 15. April 21-25

Week 16. April 28 - May 2

Work Summary

I put about one half-hour's worth of problems into each quiz, but you will have an hour to do them. Each is an "office-door" quiz. This means that I will put the blank quizzes in the rack on my office door by 9:00 AM. You come by anytime during the day, take a copy, go to a private place, take the quiz (using your own paper), and return it by 4:00 PM the same day. The advantage is that quizzes do not take up class time. You are on your honor to work alone and to give yourself no more than one hour to take the quiz. If you return the quiz after I have left for the day, push it under my door. If you return it after 4:00 PM, it is an NP. Turn in the exam questions along with your answer sheets, for security. I will return the question sheet as a study guide when I return your graded answers.

Please follow these instructions for each of our quizzes and exams:

  1. Assume that all quizzes and exams are closed-book, closed-notes, and closed-computers, unless I make an explicit exception.
  2. Except on extra-credit "true/false" questions, always show your work. A correct answer with no work shown will receive no credit. A correct answer with only partial work shown will receive only partial credit.
  3. If you don't like the way you've begun an answer, cross it out unmistakably and start again. If you leave more than one attempted answer to the same question unobliterated, I will grade them all and count the worst one. Similarly, if you have a choice of doing (say) two out of three derivations, feel free to try all three, but eventually cross out all but two; otherwise I will grade them all and count the worst two. I assume that if you could tell which ones were best, then you would cross out all the others.
  4. If you finish early, proofread your answers. Once you you turn in your quiz or exam, you may not make any changes to your answers. If there is some reason why you should not take the quiz or exam (such as illness), tell me beforehand, not once it has begun.
  5. Missed quizzes and exams cannot be made up unless you have a medical or other substantial excuse for your absence.
  6. If you like, mark your answer sheet at the point when 30 minutes, and then 45 minutes, and then (if you don't finish) 60 minutes, have elapsed. That will help me design quizzes and exams that test your knowledge of the material rather than your speed.
  7. Finally, if you don't finish a quiz or exam after 60 minutes, draw a line across your page, label it somehow ("60 minutes" or "time's up"), and keep writing. I'll decide later how much to count from below the line. Again, this will help me design quizzes and exams that don't test your speed.

The quizzes will test you on material covered recently in class; they might also include material assigned for the day of the quiz but not yet covered in class. Hence, keep up in the reading.

The final exam will be held during exam week at the end of the semester; I'll announce the date and time in class.

If you submit a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your final exam, I will mail it to you after I've graded it. If you put your campus mail box number on it, I will mail it to your campus box. If you do neither, I will hold it for you to pick up next semester.

I strongly recommend that you do all the exercises in the assigned sections of the book. Do every exercise in every section until you are confident that a smaller number will suffice. I won't ask you to submit worked exercises. But I promise you that most of the problems on the exams and quizzes will be just like the exercises in the book. Practicing on them is the best way to learn the material and prepare for the exams.

Notice that the starred exercises are answered in the back of the book so that you can test yourself. I've written a hand-out of answers to the rest of the exercises, which I will put on reserve (and possibly on the web) so that you can test yourself on them as well.

Even though no exercises are assigned, and even though all the answers will be on reserve in the library, do not hesitate to drop in to my office to talk if you are having trouble with any of the exercises. We can go over your exercises one-on-one as a way to diagnose and correct your difficulties.

The final grade will be based on these elements with these weights:

four quizzes40% (10% each)
mid-term examination25%
final examination35%
evaluation form0%

Both the examinations must be taken to pass the course. Missed quizzes will be counted as zeroes. Note that there is no credit for attendance or participation; you must learn symbolic logic to pass this course.


The primary objective of the course is to master the content and methods of formal deductive logic. We focus on methods of testing validity and deriving conclusions, but chiefly in order to provide a working knowledge of the nature and limits of this branch of logic. Specifically, you will be expected to (1) recognize and reconstruct arguments in ordinary language, (2) translate propositions and arguments from English into logical notation, (3) test propositions for equivalency, consistency, tautology, contradiction, and contingency, (4) test arguments for validity, and (5) generate valid conclusions from assumed premises under stipulated rules of inference. You will be expected to know the notation and the techniques of propositional (sentential) logic and predicate (quantificational) logic. I hope you also develop a sense for when the techniques of truth-functional logic and the formal analysis of reasoning are inapplicable or too cumbersome to be useful. The body of logical doctrine and method covered by this course is worth learning for its utility in application, for the discipline of the mind it cultivates, and for the insight it provides into the nature of inference and formalized reasoning. It is also a foundation for some of the most interesting and important scientific discoveries of the 20th century, including Gödel's theorems and the theory of computation.

The natural sequel to this course is Logical Systems, which I offer in alternate years.

Please remember that this course does not satisfy the distribution requirement in philosophy. For purposes of distribution credit, it counts only as a mathematics course, and therefore satisfies only the requirement in non-laboratory science. To get this credit, it doesn't matter whether you registered for this course as Philosophy 16, Mathematics 16, or Computer Science 16.

Ribbon] Peter Suber, Department of Philosophy, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374.
Office phone 317/983-1214. Copyright © 1997, Peter Suber.