PHIL 1301: Elementary Logic
Logic is the study of valid forms of reasoning. Consider, for example, the following argument: “If it’s raining, then the game has been cancelled. It’s raining. Therefore, the game has been cancelled.” This argument is valid: if the first two claims—the argument’s premises—are true, then the argument’s third claim—its conclusion—must be true, too.
By contrast, consider this argument: “If Spot is a whale, then Spot is a mammal. Spot is a mammal. Therefore, Spot is a whale.” Here, the premises could both be true, even if the conclusion is false (imagine, for example, that Spot is a dog). So this argument is invalid—its premises don’t logically entail its conclusion.
In this course, we study techniques for distinguishing valid arguments from invalid ones. Studying logic hones one’s ability to formulate cogent arguments, as well as one’s ability to identify and avoid illogical reasoning. The course employs Logic 2010, an innovative and award-winning software program that greatly accelerates the process of learning logic. Students are expected to bring a laptop computer to class each day. Our class will be highly interactive, with relatively short lectures and lots of time devoted in class for students to work on problems and interact with one another and the instructor.
Matthew Lockard, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at SMU, came to SMU in the fall of 2008 after competing his Ph.D. in Philosophy at UCLA. At UCLA, Lockard studied with renowned logicians such as David Kaplan, Tony Martin, and Terence Parsons. Kaplan and Parsons have won awards for their work in developing Logic 2010, an innovative software program that greatly accelerates the process of learning logic, which Lockard uses in the logic classes he teaches at SMU. While at UCLA, Lockard was awarded both the Yost Prize for Excellence in Teaching and an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
- Developing the ability to distinguish good from bad reasoning
- Gaining facility with logical concepts and ideas
- Honing the kinds of analytical skills tested by many standardized tests required for admission to graduate school, such as the GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, GRE, and others
- Satisfying both the Quantitative Reasoning and Philosophical and Religious Inquiry and Ethics I pillars of the University Curriculum
- Satisfying a requirement for majoring in Philosophy