Last updated 01/10/2024 — accessed:

PHIL 183/283G — Beginning Modern Logic — Winter 2024

Winter 2024 Syllabus and Schedule

Meets 9:30-10:45 Tu/Th North Hall 1105 + sections with TA as scheduled Wed 11:00 or Wed 12:00 in South Hall 5617

(Prof.) Colin Allen <>
Office: South Hall 5719
Office hours: Tue 11-12, Fri 2-3 (sometimes Zoom), and by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Jon Charry <>
Office: South Hall 5706
Office hours: Thursday 11-12, Friday noon-1, and by appointment

Canvas site:

Course Description

This class introduces students to formal techniques for evaluating arguments. We cover a natural deduction system of sentential logic, truth-tables, a natural deduction system of first-order predicate logic, and the basic ideas of model theory. The application of these systems for analyzing arguments is discussed. Exams are designed to test skill with the formal systems, particularly translation from English to formulas, proof techniques, and methods for showing invalidity. There are no prerequisites for the course.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you should be competent with the formal methods introduced from Chapter 1 through to Chapter 6, section 2 of the textbook. If you have mastered these concepts you will be well-positioned to appreciate the significance of formal logic as a benchmark for argumentative rigor in fields as diverse as philosophy, law, mathematics, and science. You will also be in a position to understand the foundational role of logic for technological developments in computing hardware and software design.

Textbook and Website

The book for the course is Logic Primer, 3rd Edition by Colin Allen and Michael Hand. The book is available in paperback from the campus bookstore and from other online book vendors including the publisher, MIT Press.

The first printing of the 3rd edition contains some typographical errors. A webpage with the list of errata and PDFs of fixed pages is available at .

There is also a website where you may practice the techniques and test yourself with exercises from the book. It is freely available at Using this website for your homework practice will greatly improve your chance of success in the course.

Grading Basis

Grades will be assigned on the basis of two midterms (1 hour each), final (2 hours), and in-class quizzes. The quizzes are for extra credit and can be turned in immediately for double credit or taken home and turned in at the beginning of the next class meeting for regular credit. Full regular credit will convert to 4 extra points for the course. Double credit can therefore be as high as 8 points. Your response to the quiz questions must be perfect to receive credit (i.e., there will be no partial credit on quizzes).

Your overall score will be computed using three methods and you will be assigned a grade based on the best of these methods.

  1. Two midterms @ 25% each + Final at 50%; + Extra Credit from quizzes
  2. Two midterms @ 50% each + Extra Credit from quizzes
  3. Final @ 100%, no extra credit.

Implications of this grading scheme: If you are satisfied with your grade after midterms you won't need to take the final. If you have done poorly on earlier exams, you can still pull everything out on the comprehensive final exam.

Bring your own paper for quizzes and exams. (Blue books not required.) Midterms and finals will be open book and notes--but not open neighbor! Midterm dates will be confirmed with 7 days notice. Numerical scores on midterms and finals will not be curved. Make up tests will be provided only in cases of authorized absence. See below for policy on in-class quizzes.

Course Format, Assessments, and Attendance

Attendance will not be formally monitored but double quiz credit is available only for those attending class. Because all quizzes are for extra credit, no make-ups will be provided, although if you miss class you may obtain the quiz from a classmate and turn it in at the beginning of the next meeting (usually the discussion section).

Homework and Schedule of Readings and Exams

The schedule shown is tentative. It is a good idea to read a section or two ahead of wherever we are in the class at that moment. The pace is high and it will be important for you to stay on track with the homework (ungraded) and quizzes (graded). Homework consists of all the exercises in the book. The "Logic Daemon" section of the website at contains all the book's exercises as well as additional practice exercises.

DateTopicReadings / Assignments
Week 1
Tue Jan 09Introduction to the Course/Three Key Concepts: Arguments, Validity, and Soundness1.1
Thu Jan 11The Language of Sentential Logic1.2, 1.3
Week 2
Tue Jan 16Wffs and Translations1.3, 1.4, 2.1
Thu Jan 18Translations & Primitive Rules of Proof1.4, 2.1
Week 3
Tue Jan 23Primitive Rules of Proof (and Strategies)2.1, Strategy Sheet
Thu Jan 25Proof Strategies, More Rules, and TheoremsStrategy Sheet, 2.2, 2.3
Week 4
Tue Jan 30Truth Tables for Sentences3.1, 3.2
Thu Feb 01Truth Tables for Sequents3.3
Week 5
Tue Feb 06Indirect Truth Tables3.4 (optional 3.5)
Thu Feb 08Review1.1-3.4
Week 6
Tue Feb 13First Midterm
Thu Feb 15The Language of Predicate Logic4.1, 4.2
Week 7
Tue Feb 20Translations4.2
Thu Feb 22Primitive Rules of Proofs5.1
Week 8
Tue Feb 27More Rules of Proof5.2
Thu Feb 29Finite Interpretations for One-Place Predicates6.1
Week 9
Tue Mar 05Finite Countermodels for One-Place Predicates6.2, (Optional 6.3)
Thu Mar 07Review4.1-6.2
Week 10
Tue Mar 12Second Midterm
Thu Mar 14Review1.1-6.2
Finals Week
Tue Mar 19Comprehensive Final Exam 8-11 a.m.

The following items are generic to any class.

Missed Assignments

You may request to make up for missed exams or other assignments only for University-recognized officially excused absences: