Teaching

Here are course descriptions and syllabi for two courses that I have recently taught:

Summer 2017

Introduction to Logic

This course provides a basic introduction to sentential (i.e., propositional) logic. We begin with the basic notions of argument, validity, and inference. We then learn how to symbolize arguments in natural languages like English by translating them into a formal language, the language of sentential logic. Sentential logic is the logic of truth functions, which serves as the basis of other logics. (Truth functions are also crucial to a number of other fields, especially computer science, linguistics, and mathematics.) The core of the course is learning sentential logic. The system comes in two parts. The first part is truth tables, which give the meanings of the truth functional connectives and can be used to establish a number of logical properties that sentences and sets of sentences have. The second part is the proof theory of sentential logic, where we learn to construct derivations that prove the validity of certain inferences.

Logic is a field of study on its own and the logic of sentential logic is the entry ticket into that field. Moreover, in addition to its centrality to the disciplines already mentioned, the material covered in this course has broader application, as it is key to problem solving in general and being a good critical reasoner. One place where this application is most apparent is with the logical reasoning and logic game questions on the LSAT exam required for entry into most law schools. We will end the course with a discussion of these problems, practicing applying some of the more abstract and formal techniques learned earlier in the course to these problems, and with a discussion of the limits of sentential logic.

Syllabus: quarter version

Summer 2015

Mortal Questions

In this course, we will carefully consider some of the central philosophical questions pertaining to the metaphysics and ethics of mortality. The first half of the course will focus on issues that more directly pertain to death itself—whether we are mortal, whether death can be bad for the one who dies, whether it is rational to fear death—and the second half of the course will focus on (apparently) related issues—whether immortality is desirable, what gives meaning to life, and whether we have free will.

Syllabus: quarter version and semester version

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