## Information on the Paper

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:

• Find an article (or book chapter) that employs deductive reasoning. (Practically any article that advances a thesis will involve at least some deductive reasoning!) Turn in a copy of the article with your paper.
• Identify the premises and conclusion of one or more arguments in the article. (In some cases you might want to explore more than one possible formulation of an argument.) Note: in most cases you will want to concentrate on a small section of the text, no more than a page or two and possibly as little as a paragraph.
• Define any predicates and constants you will need to symbolize the argument(s).
• Give a symbolic formulation of the argument.
• Prove that the argument is valid (or that it isn't valid, by giving a counterexample, if it's not). If it is invalid as formulated, you should explore whether a valid version of the argument can be constructed, perhaps by adding premises the author does not state but appears to presuppose.
• Conclude with an overall assessment of how and why symbolic notation was (or wasn't) useful in analyzing the arguments.

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.

Last update: November 18, 2013.
Curtis Brown | Symbolic LogicPhilosophy Department | Trinity University
cbrown@trinity.edu