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Course Requirements

This course is introductory; it assumes nothing beyond an average aptitude for logic and a willingness to do the work. Logic is not difficult, although it will be new and probably unlike anything you have done before. In some respects logic resembles geometry, and it depends on similar ways of thinking. However, the course material does not require you to know or to use any specific mathematical results.

Course Materials

Text description video (1:02) In addition to this study guide, you have one required textbook:

Dr. Carter wrote the book for Independent Study students. We use the same book on campus, but his intention was to write it in such a way that any student, in class or in Independent Study, could figure out the material without extra help.

Although earlier versions of the text have been in use for several years, you should be using the red and blue bound edition published in 2000. All the explanations, exercises, and assignments in this course are keyed to the 2000 edition—the course will be hopelessly confusing if you try to use an earlier edition.

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You will be asked to read about three hundred pages of material (in addition to this study guide). You must complete and submit ten assignments. Most of the assignments resemble mathematics exercises—they do not involve much writing, but some will require a good deal of thought.

Six assignments are submitted as multiple-choice Speedback Assignments. These assignments are computer graded, and I will not see them at all. I personally read and grade four assignments. When you complete and submit those four assignments, you can ask me any ques-tions you like (including questions about Speedback assignments). And, for your information, I almost never farm out Independent Study lessons to teaching assistants or graduate students. I will almost certainly read the four lessons that get hand graded.

You will submit your completed assignments to Independent Study electronically through BrainHoney. To make sure that I can open and read your assignments, please save them as Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) files. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Type your assignment in a word-processing program (such as Microsoft Word).
  2. When you save the file, click the Save as type: drop-down list.
  3. Select PDF (*.pdf).
  4. Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, “PHIL205_JamesSiebach_Chapter3Proofs.pdf.”
  5. Click Save.
  6. Submit the lesson’s .PDF file through the instructor-graded assignment for grading.

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Grading Procedure

You submit ten assignments including six Speedback assignments and four instructor-graded assignments. The grade for each assignment will show up in your website record as a percentage. To calculate your final grade, I will average these ten grades (100% possible), add that to your grade on the final (100% possible), and divide the sum by two (again, 100% possible). That number will be converted into a letter grade based on the usual scale. Speedback assignments and instructor graded assignments are each worth 5% of your total grade.

Grade Scale

A 100-93 C 76-73
A- 92-90 C- 72-70
B+ 89-87 D+ 69-67
B 86-83 D 66-63
B- 82-80 D- 62-60
C+ 79-77 E (fail) 59 or below

Thus, all together, your assignments will account for 50% of your final grade and the final exam for the other 50%. I may raise your grade a bit if you are near a cutoff, because I admire students who have what it takes to figure all this out on their own.

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Course Outcomes

  1. Know the basic vocabulary and concepts of formal and informal logic.
  2. Learn how to appraise validity by refuting invalid arguments and by constructing formal proofs for valid ones.
  3. Learn how to translate ordinary language into logical symbolism.

Course Objectives

  1. Explain the concepts of argument, validity, refutation , and proof.
  2. Use Venn diagrams and truth-tables to evaluate the validity of arguments.
  3. Construct proofs for syllogisms and truth-functional arguments.
  4. Recount some major developments in the history of logic.
  5. Recognize appeals to authority, arguments by analogy and by generalization, the scientific method, and some common fallacies.

You Might Be Interested to Know This

Because the material is new and different, you may become discouraged or feel unsure of yourself. These feelings may be intensified by not having a class you can attend for help and encouragement. This reaction is natural; I understand how you feel. But as you work through the lessons, even if you doubt you are on the right track, continue working and sending in assignments. Students are almost always closer to being right than they think they are.

Suppose you go seriously wrong. Here is the very worst thing that can happen: I will identify your mistakes, explain how to correct them, and ask you to resubmit the lesson—that’s the very worst fate you can suffer. Any lesson that you don’t do well on can always be done over for a higher grade. Now that isn’t so terrible, is it? (Besides, it almost never happens.)

Over my career, I have taught approximately ten thousand logic students, and nearly a thousand have completed this Independent Study course. Anyone who is willing to do the work can succeed in this course; the important thing is to keep trying. Remember: even though we may never see each other, you and I are in this together—it’s a joint effort. We will not fail in this project unless you stop trying. Incidentally, I enjoy reading the short autobiographical sketches you are asked to send in and I refer to them when your lessons come in.

How to Do Well in this Course

  1. I do not believe in busywork, and the assignments you will submit are relatively short. They are of middle-level difficulty, and I’ve selected them carefully to measure your Self of the material. However, if, in a given lesson, you are asked to study a definition or to memorize specific rules, it is because the definition or the rules are important enough that, in the long run, you will save time by knowing them. You will be ahead if you do what I ask of you, even if you are not immediately required to submit work based thereon.
  2. Each chapter includes a Self Check section containing numerous questions similar to those to be submitted. Before you submit an assignment (whether a Speedback assignment or an instructor-graded assignment), you should work through enough Self Check questions that you feel confident you are doing the work correctly. To become confident about this material, you may need to review it in the text or in this study guide. Work through and submit the assignment only when you are fairly sure you are doing the exercises correctly. Resist the inclination to begin by working on the exercises you must actually submit. Practicing on the Self Check questions will save you time (the time it takes to resubmit the assignment if you do the exercises incorrectly) and money (the charge for resubmitting an assignment).
  3. On the other hand, there are probably more Self Check questions than you need. I’ve intentionally included a lot of these, along with complete solutions and some explanations. You do not need to work more exercises than you require to master the material. You are ultimately responsible for deciding how many of the Self Check questions you need to complete.
  4. Occasionally, you may feel unsure about how to start the Self Check exercises, or, after doing some of them, you might still feel confused. In the unlikely event that this happens to you, what do you do? At some point, you must take the plunge—complete the assignment associated with that material as best you can and send it in. Even contacting me isn’t likely to help until your questions can be tied to a specific example that I can see. When I return your assignment, I will explain what you are doing wrong and how to correct the problem. My explanation, directed specifically at your mistakes, will almost always get you on the right track. What do you do then? In the rare and unlikely event that resubmission is necessary, you may be asked to complete backup exercises. If this happens, I’ll give you specific instructions.
  5. When the time comes to take the final exam, give careful attention to the section entitled Preparing For the Final Exam. That section is designed to help you review the entire course with the goal of doing well on the final. Many of the questions on the final exam will come from exercises and examples that appear one, in the text, two, in this study guide, or especially three, in Preparing For the Final Exam. As you work through this course, you might occasionally look ahead at that section so you will know exactly how you will be examined on the final.
  6. I’ll ask you to read some material on the history and the nature of logic. Usually these readings are not necessary for completing assignments. However, the final will include questions on these topics, so be sure you do the reading.
  7. Different people take this course for different reasons, and the course is designed to meet different needs. If you are preparing for subsequent work in logic (perhaps Philosophy 305 at BYU), you should thoroughly master lessons 11 and 12—memorize and practice the rules so you know them cold! Typically, the on-campus Philosophy 305 course begins with an exam on the material covered in lessons 7 through 12, and we then move immediately into quantificational logic (which is introduced in this course in lessons 13 through 15). If you are taking this course to prepare for Philosophy 305, work hard on lessons 11 and 12.
  8. On the other hand, you may be taking this course to prepare for the LSAT or because you are required to take a course in critical thinking at some other university. In these cases, lessons 11 through 15 may go beyond your needs. If so, think about this: If you do well on lessons 1 through 10 and 16 and 17, you may be able to accept somewhat lower grades on lessons 11 through 15 (which are the most difficult) and still do well enough for your purposes. Be sure to submit all the lessons; otherwise, the computer that tracks your progress won’t allow you to take the final or complete the course. If you do well on the other lessons, even with something less than perfect grades on lessons 11 through 15, it is still possible to get a good grade in the course. So, when you get to those lessons and you see how things are going, you may want to think about your objectives and then decide how much time to put into those lessons.

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


Six computer-graded assignments and four instructor-graded assignments, may be resubmitted once for a fee.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 proctored, instructor-graded final exam; may retake once for a fee. All assignments must be submitted and graded before requesting the final exam. Students must pass the final exam to pass the course. Final exam is closed book and notes.

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. 

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514