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John Corcoran, Ph.D.
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See the University at Buffalo Philosophy Department for complete course schedule.

Phi 115 Critical Thinking
Phi 215 Introduction to Deductive Logic
Phi 517 Introduction to Logic for Advanced Students
Phi 519 Topics in Logic

Phi 115 Critical Thinking

This course focuses on objectivity, intellectual integrity and intellectual independence. It concerns concepts, principles, methods, and skills which contribute to people’s ability to arrive for themselves at beliefs capable of withstanding objective critical evaluation. Thinking critically involves application of criteria (standards and testing procedures) to conclusions (whether one's own or those of others) as well as to the procedures by which those conclusions became established as beliefs. Critical thinking helps people to avoid fallacies in their own thinking, to identify fallacies in the thinking of others, to confidently appreciate their own intellectual successes and to identify and benefit from the intellectual achievement of others. Critical thinking is inseparable from critical reading and critical writing. Basic topics: definition and criterion, persuasion and proof, truth and knowledge, certainty and cautious confidence, convention and fact, education and indoctrination, suspension of belief and jumping to conclusions, deduction and induction, prediction and postdiction, hypothesis and theorem, implication and inference, evidence and proof, consistency and truth, lexical and structural ambiguity, fallacies of acceptance and fallacies of rejection, false positives and false negatives, metaphor and analogy, effective and inept uses of redundancy, paradox and reductio ad absurdum, heuristics and apodictics, precision and vagueness, syntax and semantics, object language and metalanguage, use and mention, direct and indirect reasoning, hypothetico-deductive method, semiotic triangle, intension and extension. Prerequisites: NONE.

Required Books: Westphal, Certainty, 2) Cohen & Nagel, Intro. to Logic, 3) Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary or American Heritage College Dictionary

Phi 215 Introduction to Deductive Logic

Human beings exercised inherent ability to reason correctly and to detect fallacies long before logic was a science. Logic is an ongoing attempt to describe and to reduce to theory a set of human "practices" (methods and skills). Practice necessarily preceded theory, but practice can be made more efficient and more reliable by attention to theory. Logic can be seen to emerge through pursuit of two questions: What is proof? How can a "proof" go wrong?
Content: The nature and origin of logic; correct usage of logical terminology (truth, knowledge, implication, inference, proof, deduction, contradiction, inconsistency, etc.); methods of establishing validity and invalidity; development of traditional logic; applications (text interpretation, reading comprehension, belief formation, argumentation, improvement of writing skills).

No "symbolic logic" but some symbols will be used to save time and energy. All symbols will be thoroughly explained. No Prerequisites.

This is a lecture course with collateral readings mainly from Cohen and Nagel , Intro. to Logic. (Talking Leaves and University Bookstore). Every student will need a quality full-size college dictionary, e.g. Merriam-Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Optional: (1) Quines, Quidditties, (2) Ogilvy & Anderson, Excursions into Number Theory. Weekly reports. Homework. Notes. Quizzes (announced and unannounced). Two (2) half-term exams (no final exam).

Phi 517 Introduction to Logic for Advanced Students

The course provides the advanced student with background concepts, goals and results of modern mathematical and philosophical logic in sufficient breadth and depth so that the student will be qualified (1) to use logic in doctoral research (in philosophy, linguistics, cognitive science, etc.), (2) to teach beginning logic courses and (3) to pursue more advanced courses having logic as a prerequisite. The intended audience includes intellectually mature graduate students with little or no previous logic and more advanced students seeking mastery of fundamentals.
Lectures, weekly reports, weekly exercises, two (2) half-term exams (no final).

No prerequisites-but graduate-level intellectual maturity and interest presupposed. Mathematical maturity not required: no deep metatheorems will be proved.

Optional Books (available on Lockwood Reserve, from the UB Bookstore and from Talking Leaves) include the following:
1. Tarski, Intro. to Logic and Methodology, Oxford (cloth), Dover (paper)
2. Lemmon, Beginning Logic, Hackett
3. Cohen and Nagel, Introduction to Logic, Hackett
4. Crossley, What is Mathematical Logic?, Dover
5. Strawson, Intro. to Logical Theory, Methuen

Phi 519 Topics in Logic

This seminar focuses on the background, skills, and methods involved in reading the classic articles that have come to constitute the textual foundation of modern logic. Here logic is construed, first narrowly, as the study of the underlying logics of the various mathematical sciences and, then more broadly, as the study of the ontic and epistemic presuppositions of mathematical practice. Most graduate students who intend to do doctoral research in logic, or in logic-related fields, will need much of this material.

Prerequisites: B or better in one graduate logic course.

Required books:
J. van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel
A. Tarski, Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics
R. Hughes, Philosophical Companion to First-Order Logic

Optional Books:
P. Halmos, Naive Set Theory
P. Suppes, Axiomatic Set Theory
B. Russell, Intro to Mathematical Philosophy

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Link to University at Buffalo
Link to UB Department of Philosophy