Elements of Logic - Philosophy HKU

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Elements of Logic
Lecture #1
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Joe Lau ([email protected])
Department of Philosophy
The University of Hong Kong
Elements of Logic
Course Objectives
This course has three main objectives :
1.
2.
3.
To provide a basic understanding of the principles and concepts of critical thinking.
To help students improve their skills of critical thinking.
To provide a basic introduction to propositional and predicate logic.
This course is a prerequisite for Philosophy of Logic and Paradoxes. It should also be helpful for students
who intend to take Philosophy of Language.
Contact Information
I do not have office hours. If you have questions or comments you can always come to my office or call me
(28592796) to make an appointment, or you can send me an email ([email protected]). Better still, the
course web page (http://www.hku.hk/philodep/courses/logic) has a link to a bulletin board, which you can
also use to ask questions. You are strongly encouraged to use it.
Assessment
Coursework is worth 50% of the total assessment and the final exam the remaining 50%. Class
participation (or the lack of it) might also be taken into account. Coursework consists of problem sets
which are usually short questions or exercises. If you miss a lecture it is your duty to check whether any
homework has been assigned. There will also be five compulsory (group) tutorials over the term, and a
sheet for signing up tutorials shall be put up in the department office sometime next week. Details of the
final exam shall be announced later on.
Course Texts
There is no set text for the first half of the course on critical thinking, but the following books are
recommended :
Patrick Shaw (1997) Logic and Its Limits 2nd edition Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Douglas Walton (1989) Informal Logic 2nd edition
Copi and Cohen (1994) Introduction to Logic 9th edition London, Macmillian (or get the latest edition)
Many of the books written in Chinese on critical thinking or logic are not very good, and I don’t know too
many of them anyway. But if you want you can read the first half of :
This is I think out of print, but I shall put a photocopy on reserve at the department office at some point.
The course text for the 2nd (formal logic) part of the course is :
Colin Allen and Michael Hand (1992) Logic Primer Cambridge, MIT Press
You should buy a copy from the university bookshop. Order one if they have run out.
Elements of Logic
Lecture #1
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Joe Lau ([email protected])
Department of Philosophy
The University of Hong Kong
Course Schedule
There are a total of twenty lectures for this course. The provisional schedule for the lectures is as follows.
The numbering within the square brackets refer to the relevant sections in Allen and Hand’s book.
1.
General Introduction
Critical Thinking
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Arguments
Questions and Statements
Concepts
All and Some, Part and Whole
Tricks and Traps
Causation
Probability
Fallacies
Propositional Logic
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
Formalization
Proof I
Proof II
Truth-tables I
Truth-tables II
[1.1-1.3]
[1.4-1.6]
[1.4-1.6]
[2.1-2.2]
[2.3-2.5]
Predicate Logic
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
Quantifiers I
Quantifiers II
Models I
Models II
Relations and Identity
Glimpses Beyond
[3.1-3.2]
[3.3-3.4]
[4.1-4.2]
[4.3-4.4]
Elements of Logic
Lecture #1
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Joe Lau ([email protected])
Department of Philosophy
The University of Hong Kong
General Introduction
Thinking Well
1. Whether one is successful in life depends on a lot of factors, such as luck, background,
motivation, and the ability to think well. The main aim of this course is to help you to
become a better thinker.
2. Being able to think well involves being able to use our reason to solve problems and to
achieve our goals in an appropriate and efficient manner.
3. This requires the ability to think critically and creatively. Creativity enables us to
formulate new and useful ideas, and critical thinking can help us evaluate the validity
and usefulness of our ideas.
4. It is not difficult to identify some of the principles of critical thinking, but this is much
harder to do for creative thinking.
5. But critical thinking can be important for creativity because it can help us identify the
more probable sources of new ideas and to throw out bad ideas more efficiently.
6. Not everyone is equally skillful in thinking critically. But apart from natural talent,
training is also an important factor. Muddled thinking is unfortunately very common.
7. To be skillful at a certain activity X typically involves two kinds of knowledge :
(theoretical) knowledge of what it is to be good at X, and (practical know-how of) being
able to apply such knowledge in doing X.
8. Taking a short course or reading books in critical thinking can provide some of the
theoretical knowledge, but improving one’s skills requires practice and the
internalization of such knowledge into everyday thinking.
Critical Thinking
1. The main part of critical thinking involves the of analysis of reasoning, so that we can
(a) decide whether it is good or bad reasoning, and (b) explain what is right or wrong
with the reasoning.
2. So it is a special kind of meta-thinking, thinking about thinking. Reflection allows us to
improve our thinking.
3. The capacity for critical thinking is one important respect in which human beings are
different from other animals, and without which science (and philosophy and much
else) would not be possible.
4. Critical thinking is not just being clear and concise.
5. Critical thinking is not the same as being critical of others or being argumentative.
6. Here is one possible division of the area of critical thinking : analysis of arguments and
reasoning, analysis of statements and questions, analysis of concepts, analysis of
fallacies and bias. The last is a systematic application of the principles from the first
three areas.
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