Required for the Philosophy track, this course blends two areas of study that are often kept separate in university courses on logic: informal logic and formal (or symbolic) logic. Informal logic emphasizes natural language arguments, rules of valid inference (called traditional logic), and the identification of mistakes in reasoning that make arguments logically weak though possibly persuasive (fallacies). By contrast, formal logic builds a symbolic representation of sentences and arguments, describes rigorous tests for determining whether symbolized arguments are valid, and provides the means to assess arguments of far greater complexity than the rules of traditional logic can manage. Although symbolic logic may look like mathematics, it is really a useful means for examining sentences and arguments solely in terms of their logical meaning, much as x-ray machines enable a skillful eye to examine skeletons. The course will make some attempt to connect these two approaches to logic instead of leaving them in a state of tension or contrast or emphasizing one at the expense of the other.
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Department of English and Philosophy, United States Military Academy, Room 228, West Point, New York 10996
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