A Concise Introduction to Logic

April 20, 2017 | Updated: May 9, 2019
Author: Craig DeLancey, SUNY Oswego

A Concise Introduction to Logic is an introduction to formal logic suitable for undergraduates taking a general education course in logic or critical thinking, it and is accessible and useful to any interested in gaining a basic understanding of logic. This text takes the unique approach of teaching logic through intellectual history; the author uses examples from important and celebrated arguments in philosophy to illustrate logical principles. The text also includes a basic introduction to findings of advanced logic. As indicators of where the student could go next with logic, the book closes with an overview of advanced topics, such as the axiomatic method, set theory, Peano arithmetic, and modal logic. Throughout, the text uses brief, concise chapters that readers will find easy to read and to review.

Subject Areas
Humanities, Philosophy

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Reviews (1) Avg: 3.8 / 5

Rana Ahmad

Institution:Langara CollegeTitle/Position: InstructorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

In being a concise book, it eliminates some subjects (both informal and formal fallacies, some inference rules, replacement rules) which might be fine depending on the course this is being used for. It covers the basic methodology of derivations, which is good. It also covers some basic rules of inference, and the explanation for them is also quite good, but an introductory student might not implicitly understand replacement rules without being given a more explicit introduction. The text does not contain an index or a glossary so this is a limitation. This is a solid introductory textbook for logic, but it is not comprehensive and likely would need to be supplemented.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

The content is well written and carefully planned. In general the text seemed to be accurate and error-free. The consistency and quality of the writing was notable. It is unbiased in that it takes a very straightforward perspective on the topic. The examples and references have the typical bias of traditional texts and include only a narrow range of historical figures/examples.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

This is not trying to be a modern textbook, and so would likely not require much in the way of updating. Most of the examples, illustrations or anecdotes are taken from historical events, or classic problems in philosophy. It is difficult to see how this might be made obsolete since it is quite classical in its approach to logic.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is written in a very formal style that might not be accessible to introductory students in today’s universities and colleges. There is an interesting narrative element to the way the author introduces the topic, which is, again part of a more classic tradition for textbooks. In my experience, many students in today’s higher education institutions have not been exposed to the sort of formal prose you would find in such texts. However, this doesn’t mean it is necessarily inaccessible, nor do I think it is a barrier to using the text.

The technical terms are defined, although sometimes this occurs well after they appear, or, they are better defined the second or third time they appear. A glossary would mitigate this issue.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Yes, the text is quite consistent.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Given that the text is meant to be concise, it does not lend itself to further division very easily. It would not be very adaptable to alternate approaches, but likely an instructor would have this in mind when selecting it for a course. Reorganization would be challenging since the topics are presented holistically. For example, the section on “And” covers the semantic meaning of ‘and’, the truth function, the inference rule and the derivation. Focusing on just derivations, for example would be quite awkward, however the text is designed in this way so it would be necessary to use the text as it is written.

Modularity Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Yes, it’s logical based on the aims of the text. It would be a matter of preference to determine whether this is the best way to approach the material for any particular course.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

Yes, the text is free of such issues. It is well put together and clearly planned meticulously.

Given that this is primarily an online text, it would likely help to do away with the front and back matter as such pages serve no purpose and make navigation more tedious than necessary. If it is not going to be published in material form, then using these old methods is odd.

The table of contents consistently navigates to the correct page, the truth tables display what they ought to etc.

Interface Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

Very consistent throughout. I did not detect any errors, which is unusual, in my experience, for a logic text.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

No, this text is not diverse, nor does it attempt to be. The usual, staid philosophical exemplars are mentioned: Hume, Frege, Russell, Hobbes, Tarski, Carnap etc. Save the reference to a quote by Fredrick Douglas, no women or any other member of the cited groups are mentioned or referenced. There are a number of relevant yet diverse figures who could have been included, if only as a way of introducing a new topic.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 1 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I would recommend this book as a solid, classical, abridged introductory logic text for instructors who wish to supplement a course with their own material, yet want to have a text for the students to refer to. While it does not offer anything new, and there are more comprehensive texts with superior resources and problem sets, as a free online text this would be sufficient for competent students in introductory logic.

The strengths:
- The author incorporated some relevant historical examples and anecdotes to put the subject matter into perspective throughout which was effective.
- The writing is very sophisticated and clearly much care was put into the text as a whole.
- The introductory chapters are especially valuable because of the tone the author strikes with the reader. The author acknowledges the lack of familiarity an introductory student might have with the field of knowledge, but makes an effort to instill a sense of confidence.
- This might be well suited to an online-course where the student works in an independent and self-directed way, and prefers to have a classic approach to the subject. It might not be suitable for an in-person version of a course.

The weaknesses:
- The text might not be comprehensive enough to stand alone as the required reading for an introductory logic course.
- While taking into account that the text is meant to be concise, there are not many practice problems for students, which might be problematic in an introductory course.
- No solutions are provided for the problems, and this might be a limitation for students as they are working through the material on their own.
- While the examples used are classic and worth knowing, they are the same, non-diverse examples used in older texts.
- The shift in complexity from the first chapter to the last chapter is perhaps overly ambitious. I liked the idea of introducing metalogic in the final section, but I am not certain an introductory student would be able to make this leap without more practice.