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Logic & Philosophy of Science

Module Code: PI2009

Module Name: Logic & Philosophy of Science

Module Content

This course introduces the elements of formal logic including the propositional and predicate calculi and basic proof procedures. It also deals with issues in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of the natural and social sciences.

Michaelmas Term/1st Semester

Components 1 and 2: Formal Logic - Dr. Tim Fernando (email)

This course is an introduction to classical logic aimed at philosophy students. We will make use of formal methods to make the notion of 'validity' precise in two systems of logic: propositional logic and predicate logic. We will first learn how to identify the logical form of arguments and then learn how to check their validity. In the case of propositional logic we will make use of truth tables and a tree method. In the case of predicate logic we will make use of some basic model theory and an expanded tree method. Time permitting we will also look at 28 some basic concepts in meta-logic - properties about the logical systems themselves.

In the final part of the course we turn our attention to some issues in philosophical logic, where we employ formal methods to serve philosophical ends. We will look at how logic can aid us in coming to grip with puzzles about vagueness, indeterminacy, identity and existence.

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module, students will be able to:

  • translate sentences and arguments from English into the languages of propositional and predicate logic.
  • assign truth conditions to formulas, using truth tables as a semantics for propositional logic and model theory as a semantics for predicate logic;
  • check the validity of argument forms in propositional and predicate logic using a tree method;
  • use formal methods in the service of some philosophical ends.

Hilary Term/2nd Semester

Component 3: Philosophy of Science - Dr. Simone Marini (email)

The sciences are widely considered to be our most reliable sources of knowledge about the world. In this component we will investigate the main philosophical issues concerning the nature and status of scientific knowledge and methodology. The questions we will be asking include: What is specific to the scientific method, as opposed to other ways of knowing? Is the scientific method a good way of uncovering objective truths about the world? How can we characterise the structure of scientific explanation? How do scientific explanations relate to other sorts of explanatory practices? How are scientific theories constructed and confirmed?

Component 4: Philosophy of Language - Dr. Simone Marini (email)

It is hard to overestimate the importance of language to human beings. We use it to mediate our interaction with each other and the world, and we rely on it to make possible the expression of thought. In this component we will explore a range of foundational issues in 20th century analytic philosophy of language, including meaning, reference and propositional attitudes. In particular, we will be concentrating on philosophical attempts to understand our capacity to represent the world in thought and language. We will also consider the connections between the philosophy of language and issues in the philosophy of mind and epistemology.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the key issues and debates in the philosophy of science;
  • outline the views of some of the leading scholars in the philosophy of science and critically evaluate their contributions to the field;
  • come to a better understanding of the role, which the analysis of language has played in philosophical discourse;
  • critically assess central philosophical issues about language and the ways that some influential philosophers have tried to answer them.

Assessment Details

For PI2009 (10 ECTS) students are required to take one logic test. Logic exercises are arranged between the students and the Teaching Assistant (these do not count toward the overall grade). Students will also be required to submit one essay (from either component 3 or component 4) and and sit a two hour exam during the annual examination period.