Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Philosophy
PHL 431 Topics in Logic and Language SS 2020
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Students will critically examine a variety of logics in order to understand their rationales and techniques, assess their adequacy, and see their connections to philosophical topics such as the nature of vagueness, truth, rationality, and reality. By the end of the course, students will have developed an understanding of classical logic and its chief rivals that will enable them to appreciate some of the deep questions in the philosophy of logic.

Typically, it is classical logic that is taught in introductory logic courses offered by colleges and universities around the world (e.g., at MSU it is taught in PHL 130, PHL 330, and PHL 432). Our consideration of alternative logics will enable students to meaningfully engage the following questions in the philosophy of logic: How exactly, if at all, are these logics rivals to classical logic? Could there in principle be good reasons for adopting an alternative to classical logic? Are there reasons for adopting a non-classical logic for limited applications or must a change in logic be global? Students will have opportunities to develop their own answers to these and other questions in the philosophy of logic.

This is not a course in formal logic (e.g., it is not just an advanced version of PHL 330). It will be useful to have some familiarity with formal logic, but success in this course does not presuppose it. Our aim is not to master the formal techniques of the various logics we consider. Rather, the course aims to familiarize students with these techniques in order to enable them to engage the aforementioned topics and questions, i.e., in order to enable them to philosophize about logic.

Instructor: Matt McKeon

Other Relevant Majors: Mathematics, Science, Pre-Law

Possible Texts: Graham Priest's Introduction to Non-Classical Logics, Mark Sainsbury's Paradoxes