Mechanical details: The paper should be approximately 8-10 pages in length, double-spaced in a reasonably-sized font (e.g. 12 pt. Times New Roman) with one-inch margins.
Content: The general idea of the paper is to make use of symbolic logic to analyze and evaluate some argumentation in a field you are interested in. Your paper should do the following:
If you are a pre-law student, you might consider, instead of writing about an article or chapter, doing the following. Take one or two of the setups for the analytical reasoning section (sometimes informally called the "logic games" section) of an LSAT sample exam. Use logical notation to represent the constraints given in the setup, and then solve the questions associated with that setup. Write up your answers, explaining the reasoning that led to them, and then spend a page or two reflecting on which questions or aspects of the questions your knowledge of logic helped with, which questions or aspects of questions it didn't help with, and why. (Some of the LSAT questions lend themselves to symbolic formulation better than others. If you discuss only one setup, you should try your best to find one to which symbolic logic is well suited. If you discuss more than one, it might be interesting to contrast one that has a simple and natural formalization with another that does not seem to.)
The grade will be based on the appropriateness of the article or chapter (or LSAT question) you have selected; how well you have interpreted the argument(s) you discuss; how sophisticated and appropriate your formalization of the argument is; and how successfully you evaluate the argument. Of course general criteria of good writing will also be relevant, including the clarity of your writing and the organization of the paper.
August 21, 2012.
Curtis Brown | Symbolic Logic | Philosophy Department | Trinity University