PHIL 2340
Symbolic Logic I

Fall, 2012

Course Description

This course will provide a basic understanding of elementary propositional and predicate logic. Students will learn the syntax and semantics of first-order languages; how to translate between English and such languages; how to construct proofs in a natural-deduction system for first-order logic; and how to show that an argument is valid or invalid by finding a proof or a counterexample. An integral part of the course will be working with the associated software bundled with our text: Tarski's World, which provides an extremely vivid means of comparing sentences in logical notation with models; Boole, a useful tool for constructing truth tables; Fitch, a tool for constructing and evaluating proofs; and Submit, which will enable you to submit homework exercises for online grading. Caution: this course will probably seem easy at first, and if you keep up with the homework it should remain very manageable. However, later material presupposes a thorough understanding of earlier material, so it is deadly to fall behind.


Jon Barwise and John Etchemendy, Language, Proof, and Logic, Second Edition (Stanford: CSLI Publications, 2011).

Office Hours

TR 8:30-10:30; MW 4:00 - 5:00, except for the following Mondays: September 10, October 1, November 5, and December 3.

I am usually in my office during office hours, but occasionally a meeting or another commitment prevents this.  If you just drop by during office hours, you will probably find me in; if you want to see me at another time, or if you want to be certain I'll be in, we can set up an appointment.


Exams. There will be three in-class examinations. I will drop the exam with the lowest score; the other two will count 20% each. The in-class exams are tentatively scheduled for Friday, September 21; Wednesday, October 17; and Friday, November 9. The cumulative final exam, worth 25%, will be on Thursday, December 13, at 8:30 AM.

Paper. An 8-10 page paper is required for the class. The paper should apply the tools of symbolic logic to an area you are interested in. In most cases, this will involve translating one or more arguments into symbolic notation, determining whether they are valid or not, and discussing the ways in which using the symbolic formulation was helpful and/or unhelpful. More information about the paper is available here. The paper must be turned in electronically by Monday, November 19. (There is no need for a hard copy.) I will accept late papers, but the grade will be dropped one notch (e.g. from a B to a B- or from a B- to a C+) for every day the paper is late.

Homework. I will assign regular homework problems which you will submit for online grading (you should expect to have a homework assignment for nearly every class meeting). It is possible to do these assignments in the campus computer labs, but it will make things much more convenient if you have your own computer and an internet connection. I will record homework grades and keep track of your average. Homework will count 15% of the final grade.

In theory you should be able to get a near-perfect score on the homework assignments, because you can check your answers online as many times as you wish prior to submitting the homework. (In practice this rarely happens, however, as many students find some of the homework assignments quite difficult, especially later in the semester.) So doing the homework has the potential both to improve your overall average in the class, and also to improve your understanding of the material and therefore your performance on exams. 

Paper-and-pencil assignments to be turned in (if any) are to be given to me at the beginning of the class period on the date due. Assignments using the computer software are to be submitted for online grading using the program Submit.


I have posted a detailed schedule on the web. Very roughly speaking, we will cover the first 14 chapters of the book at a pace of approximately one chapter per week. (Some chapters will take more time and some, especially the early chapters, will take less.) We will then examine a little of the material in Part III of the book, and some material not covered in the book, as a way of getting a glimpse of more advanced topics in logic, notably extensions of classical logic, suggested revisions of logic, and topics in metalogic.

The Academic Honor Code

You should make certain that you are familiar with the details of the Academic Honor Code, which all Trinity students are covered by. Students are required to pledge all written work that is submitted for a grade by writing, on the submitted work: “On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized assistance on this work,” followed by their signature. The pledge may be abbreviated “pledged” with a signature. If I suspect that the Honor Code has been violated, I am required to submit an allegation to the Honor Council, a student committee. After that, it is out of my hands: it is up to the Honor Council to determine whether a violation has occurred, and if so, what the penalty should be. The Honor Code prohibits faculty members from making their own determination, or even communicating about the allegation with the student involved. In my experience, the Honor Council has been at least as tough as I would have been on students found to have violated the code. For more details see the Honor Code web site.

Students are required to do their own homework in this class. You are welcome to seek advice from other students if you have trouble with the homework. (You will learn the material better if you have a serious stab at homework problems before seeking help, however.) However, even if you discuss homework problems with other students, you must write and submit your own assignment. In particular, submitting the same file as another student for online grading is a violation of academic integrity. You should be aware that the software we use for doing homework problems "stamps" each homework file with a unique identifier, and alerts me if two students submit files with the same identifier. (So don't share your homework files with other students, and don't submit another student's homework file, or a copy of it, as your own.)

You are also welcome, indeed encouraged, to study for exams in groups and to prepare for exams by trying out the sample exams I have placed online. (Notice that for each exam, I have placed at least one previous version of the exam online. I have also provided answer keys so you can check your answers on the sample exams.) Please do not consult other old exams that may still lurk in fraternity files or elsewhere. There should be plenty of study material available without using those!

Last update: August 21, 2012. 
Curtis Brown | Symbolic Logic | Philosophy Department | Trinity University