PHIL 305 - Introduction to Formal Philosophical Methods
Fall 2016, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Requirements & Distribution:
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


The great philosopher-mathematician Leibniz dreamed of a grand system of logic that would allow us to settle all disputes. He said: “If we had it, we should be able to reason in metaphysics and morals in much the same way as in geometry and analysis” and “If controversies were to arise, there would be no more need for disputation between two philosophers than between two accountants. For it would suffice to take their pencils in their hands, to sit down to their slates, and to say to each other (with a friend as witness if they liked): Let us calculate.”

Leibniz died 300 years ago, so it is time to check up on the progress of his project. We will find that it is radically incomplete. We will take a look at a number of attempts to characterize good reasoning, involving classical and non-classical logic, probability, and statistics. No familiarity with any of these topics will be presupposed. For each, we will look at its limitations and weaknesses as well as its strengths.

The tools we develop will be useful for anyone studying philosophy, mathematics, computer science, cognitive science, economics, psychology ..... In short they will be useful for anyone who wants to understand reasoning—or who wants to reason well.

Course Requirements:

Regular problem sets, two tests, and a final exam.

Intended Audience:

No background will be presupposed.

Class Format:

2 hrs of lecture per week and 2 hours of problem-solving/discussion section.


PHIL 305 - Introduction to Formal Philosophical Methods
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:00PM
002 (DIS)
 In Person
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:00PM
003 (DIS)
 In Person
TuTh 5:00PM - 6:00PM

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