PHIL 120 A: Introduction to Logic

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWThF 1:10pm - 3:20pm
DEM 124
Ian Schnee
Ian Schnee

Syllabus Description:

PHIL 120: Introduction to Logic

Summer 2018

In class: Tues., 1:10–3:20 p.m. in DEM 124 (and exam dates: the midterm exam is Fri., June 29 and final exam is the last day of scheduled class, Weds., July 18)

This is a hybrid class.  That means that much of the course content will be delivered online (via our Canvas site), and we will not always meet in person at our scheduled time.  Our only scheduled in-person class times are (i) each Tuesday, from 1:10-3:20 in DEM 124 and (ii) the exam days.  The midterm exam will be in class on Friday, June 29, and the final exam will be in class on our last day, Wednesday, July 18 (see schedule below).

Contact Info

Instructor: Ian Schnee


Office hours: Tuesdays from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. (or by appointment!)

Office location: 383 Savery Hall

How to contact me: all email to the instructor should be sent to my UW email address.  There is also a course email (, which you will use for homework submissions (see the directions on the first problem set).  But do NOT send correspondence (questions, requests, etc.) to the course email!


What makes an argument good?  How do you show that someone has reasoned invalidly?  In this course we will study arguments and reasoning both informally as well as with the tools and techniques of formal deductive logic.  We will learn the syntax and semantics of propositional and first-order logic (polyadic with identity and functions), and we will use them to explicate the intuitive notion of a valid argument.  We then apply our formal logical techniques to a variety of domains, such as the domain of sets (abstract collections of objects).  Topics include syntax, semantics, pragmatics, consistency, proof, logical consequence, logical equivalence, logical truth, analyticity, logical form, sets, set theory, infinity, paradoxes, truth functionality, binary numbers, logic gates, truth tables, quantification, relations, functions, interpretations, models, soundness, and completeness.  We will also discuss connections between formal logic and computability theory, philosophy of language, cognitive science, foundations of mathematics, and metalogic (theorems about logical systems themselves).


This is a difficult and fast-paced course!  We have a problem set due nearly every-other day.  Furthermore, all the material is cumulative, so you must keep up with the work all quarter in order to succeed.  That does not mean that this class will be all work and no fun.  This is the most fun class on campus!  (In my biased opinion.)  But you must know what you are getting into if you take this course.




There is one book to buy for the course: Language, Proof and Logic (2nd Edition), by Barker-Plummer, Barwise, and Etchemendy: ISBN 978-1-57586-632-1.  (The book comes with software; you don’t have to buy any software separately.)

The text/software package has a one-time registration ID.  Make sure that what you buy includes the unused software and DO NOT BUY IT USED OR SECONDHAND—it won’t work and you will not be able to take this course!  Even if you buy the book online and it says “new”, the book might be in pristine condition but someone used the software registration ID and thus the “new” book is useless to you (because you need an unused software ID to take this course).

That is why I only recommend that you buy the book/software in one of two ways:

  • Directly from the publisher by electronic download (cost: $55). Go to:  You will get a pdf of the textbook, plus the manuals and software.  You save money this way but you don’t get a physical copy of the text.  Or:
  • In person at the university bookstore or some other local shop. If you buy it in person then you will know that what you are getting is still shrink-wrapped in the box, which is what you want.  The book/software in hard copy costs roughly $70.  If you try to save money by getting a hard copy much cheaper from a 3rd party then you might cause misery for yourself. 

Buy the book as soon as possible (BEFORE classes start): we will have a problem set due on Friday of the first week, and you need your own copy of the book and software to do the problem sets!

Grading and Course Requirements

There are four components of your grade:

  1. Participation: 5%
  2. Homework: 30%
  3. Midterm exam: 30%
  4. Final exam: 35%

Here is an explanation of each of these parts:

  1. Participation will be measured by your involvement on the online discussion board on Canvas.  We will use the discussion board as a place for you to ask and answer questions—about specific homework problems that you are struggling with, or course content in general.  The main point of the discussion board is for you to help each other with the course material, so you are expected to answer as well as ask questions (though I will help answer questions too).  You must use the board at least 5 times by July 18 (1% point for each time).  By “use the board” I mean substantive posts—questions or answers—not just saying “Thank you”.  I do require polite behavior, and highly encourage saying thanks—doing so just doesn’t count as one of your five posts for credit!
  2. Homework assignments will have two parts; one part is called “written” and the other part is called “electronic.”  In fact, though, both parts will be submitted online.  The “written” part will be done on a Canvas quiz, and the “electronic” part will be submitted with the program Submit (part of the software package that comes with the textbook).  For directions on how to submit homework and manage your workflow for the course, please see both the video posted on Canvas called “Submitting Homework” as well as the directions on the first problem set. Problem sets will start to be due the first week!  They will be due on the assigned days by 11 p.m.  (See Late Policy below regarding late homework.)
  3. The midterm will occur in class on June 30 from 1:10 to 2:10 p.m.  It is closed note/book/computer (unless allowed by Disability Resources for Services).  It will be multiple choice, true/false, proofs, etc.  Directions and a study guide will be provided before the exam.  You must bring a PURPLE (not green) Scantron answer card and a no. 2 pencil in order to take the test.
  4. The final exam will occur on our last day, July 19, in class from 1:10-3:20 p.m.  It is closed note/book/computer (unless allowed by Disability Services).  Like the midterm, it will be multiple choice, true/false, proofs, etc.  Directions and a study guide will also be provided during the last week of class.  The test in cumulative, but the emphasis will be on new material since the midterm.  You must bring a PURPLE (not green) Scantron answer card and a no. 2 pencil in order to take the test.

Late Policy

In order to pass the class students must complete their work on time.  Unexcused homework that is late less than 24 hours past deadline will be docked 50%.  Unexcused homework that is more than 24 hours late will not be accepted.  There is no late work accepted for the exams: talk with me about individual circumstances.

The EXCEPTIONS: lateness may be excused with prior approval or demonstrated emergency.  If you find yourself in difficult circumstances, please come talk to me or your TA!  Many cases of academic dishonesty (see below) are done out of desperation; it is always better to contact me, no matter the circumstances, than to resort to plagiarism or cheating!

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism and other forms of cheating will not be tolerated; students caught doing either will receive a 0 for the course.  It is your duty to know and understand what plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are as well as the university’s policy on student conduct and discipline.  Here are some resources to help you:

  • The Center for Teaching and Learning’s page on plagiarism and cheating:

  • The UW student conduct code:

All cases of plagiarism or cheating will be report to the Dean, the Committee on Academic Conduct, and the University Disciplinary Committee.  NOTE: I respect your right to due process.  Should you be reported, the relevant committee will decide your case and (i) you may continue the course, being presumed innocent until found otherwise, and (ii) you have the right to appeal the committee’s decision.  (See end of syllabus for elaboration and additional department policies.)

NOTE: Each student must do all of his or her own work (and work entirely on his or her own files and computer!).  The midterm and final exam must be done strictly individually, closed book and closed note.  On homework students may work together—study groups are a great idea—but every student complete her own problem set individually.  So no two written answers may be identical: each student’s work must be written in her own words, even if students are working together.

ANOTHER NOTE: Under no circumstances may students share electronic files or computers for homework or any other graded material.  Students must always use their own files from their software CD or computer for homework.  Be warned: sharing files will be detected by the ingenious Grade Grinder and will be considered cheating, resulting in an F for the course.

Tentative Schedule

This is just a sketch and is subject to revision—additional details will be posted on Canvas.









Week 1

June 18




June 19


Meet in class day.


June 20


PS#1 due



June 21




June 22


PS#2 due





Week 2



June 25


PS#3 due


June 26


Meet in class day.

June 27


PS#4 due



June 28




June 29



In class from 1:10-2:10




Week 3



July 2





July 3


Meet in class day.


July 4


PS#5 due



July 5




July 6


PS#6 due




Week 4


July 9


PS#7 due


July 10


Meet in class day.

July 11


PS#8 due




July 12

July 13


PS#9 due




Week 5


July 16


PS#10 due


July 17


Meet in class day.

July 18


Final Exam

In class from 1:10-3:20






Please see the following pages for department policies.

Additional Details:

What makes an argument good?  How do you show that someone has reasoned invalidly?  In this course we study arguments and reasoning with the tools and techniques of formal deductive logic.  We will learn the syntax and semantics of propositional and first-order logic, and we will use them to explicate the intuitive notion of a valid argument.  We then apply our formal logical techniques to answer questions in a variety of areas.  Is there only one size of infinity, or can one infinity be bigger than another?  Can there be a set of all sets?  How does a computer work?  How could water running through hoses implement a computer?

TEXT: Language, Proof and Logic, David Barker-Plummer, Jon Barwise and John Etchemendy.

Catalog Description: 
Elementary symbolic logic. The development, application, and theoretical properties of an artificial symbolic language designed to provide a clear representation of the logical structure of deductive arguments. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Natural World (NW)
Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:09pm