In this course, students will use methods from logic and probability to study philosophical questions about the nature of reasoning and to analyze experiments about how humans reason. Students will learn to identify some common reasoning errors, learn to identify arguments and their parts, study the concepts used to evaluate arguments, and learn the basic elements of deductive logic and probability theory. There will be an emphasis on the relation between deductive logic, probability, and inductive logic. The goal is to develop a broad understanding of the principles that guide human reasoning. Reasoning is a transition in thought, where some beliefs (or thoughts) provide grounds or reasons for coming to another. What makes certain transitions of thought rational or reasonable while others are considered irrational or erratic? This question has been a major focus of investigation in many different research areas, such as philosophy, logic, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and psychology.
This course is an introduction to logic and probability with a focus on understanding applications to the study of the foundations of human reasoning. There will be readings from the different disciplines mentioned above; however, no prior knowledge of any of these fields is presupposed.
- Textbook: You do not need to purchase a textbook for this course. There is an online textbook that covers some of the material we will discuss this semester. All other reading will be available on ELMS.
- Tophat: Please signup for tophat using the join code 601505. You must sign up for the Top Hat Pro subscription. Tophat will be used for in-class questions (during lectures and discussion section) and for interactive study guides to supplement the readings and lectures.
- Piazza: This term we will be using Piazza for class discussion. The system is highly catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates, the TA, and myself. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, I encourage you to post your questions on Piazza. If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find our class page at: https://piazza.com/umd/fall2020/phil171/home
- Gradescope: We will use Gradescope for your weekly problem sets. You should access gradescope through the ELMS website. You already are added to the Gradescope gradebook.
The teaching assistant will hold weekly sections via Zoom (see the weekly schedule for the times of these meetings).
The tentative weekly schedule:
- Update to the course, including updates to the course website, updates to the online notes, new videos to watch for the week, updates to the weekly schedule will be announced by noon on Mondays.
- Synchronous Zoom lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30pm - 1:20pm.
- Throughout the week, use piazza.com to ask questions about the problem sets, reading or lectures, or anything else you might want to discuss related to the course.
- Weekly problem sets (submitted through Gradescope) are due Fridays by 11:00 PM.
- The participation questions (answered via tophat.com) should be answered during the live Zoom sessions and sections. All participation questions for the week are due Fridays by 11:00 PM.
The course requirements are:
Participation: There will be weekly “participation questions” assigned via Tophat. Almost all the questions will be asked and answered during the live-sessions. Each question will be worth 1 point. Some questions will be graded for participation only (you get 1 point as long as you answer the question before the deadline) and others questions will be graded for correctness (0.5 for participation and 0.5 for correctness). Each student will receive 10% of the total points as extra credit (e.g., if there are 50 total points, then each student will receive 5 extra credit points). You are encouraged to discuss these problems with your classmates.
Problem Sets: There will be approximately 10 problem sets. Problem sets will be submitted through Gradescope (accessible through the course website). You can use your notes and the online textbook, but you should not discuss your answers with your classmates.
Exams: The exams will be take-home and submitted through Gradescope. The exams will be timed: Once the exam is opened, you will have a fixed amount of time (e.g., 4 hours) to complete the exam. You can use your notes and the online textbook, but you should not discuss your answers with your classmates. There will be 3 exams given during the semester:
- Exam 1: Logic and reasoning (tentatively scheduled for week 6)
- Exam 2: Probability (tentatively scheduled for week 12)
- Final Exam: The final will be cumulative and given as an online exam during finals week. Consult the course website for more information about the final exam.
Grades will be assigned according to the following weights:
See undergraduate catalogue for description of grades, e.g., A+, A, A-, etc.
You are not alone in this course; we are here to support you as you learn the material. It’s expected that some aspects of the course will take time to master, and the best way to master challenging material is to ask questions. For online questions, use Piazza. We will also hold virtual office hours for in-person discussions.
UMD has many resources available to help students. Below are links to some resources that you might find helpful.