Intro to Formal Logic 2nd ed. — readers wanted!

It’s not so very often in life that you get a shot at putting right something major, that first time around occupied a lot of time and energy, but didn’t turn out as well as you intended. So I’m grabbing at the chance of preparing a second edition of my Introduction to Formal Logic, trying to make a very significantly better fist of it this time around. A contract hasn’t been nailed down yet, but I live in hope …

So where have things got to with the re-write? Well, you can now see the current table of contents of the reworked chapters 1 to 14. However, I am not going to simply post these chapters in an unrestricted way here (there are issues of intellectual property rights with CUP).

Still, if you would like to see these chapters, then by all means drop an email to ps218 at cam dot ac dot uk. Put “IFL” in the subject line, and add a few words about yourself (undergraduate student? graduate? professor? just interested in logic?). Then I will happily send you an e-copy of these pages on the understanding that (i) you will not recirculate them, (ii) you will certainly let me know any typos you spot, and (iii) you will give me any comments, large or small, that you have. Student comments of the “that chapter was very helpful” vs “I found that section hard going” are particularly welcome. (Though I guess that it’s too late in the day for comments, however well-meant, of the “I really wouldn’t be starting from here!” or “I wish you’d written a different kind of book!” variety. And do remember that, for better or worse, this is a book primarily aimed at beginning philosophers; so it goes slowly.)

Anyone who produces helpful comments will get further instalments of the book over the next six months, and a mention in the Thanks at the beginning of book! Fame at last: how can you resist?! (When I asked for similar help on the second edition of my Gödel book, I got a lot of corrections and suggestions which very much improved the book — and there was little correlation between someone’s official standing and the helpfulness of their comments. So all are most welcome!)

Intro to Formal Logic 2nd ed. — help, please!

If you know my Introduction to Formal Logic reasonably well, and in particular if you have at some time taught from it, do please read on!

CUP suggested over a couple of months ago now that I write a second edition of this textbook. And I have become very taken with the idea. The proposal in headline terms is that the second edition will also cover natural deduction, while losing a little of the stuff which is unnecessarily fancy for a first course. There’s just a bit more detail here. So I’ve been diving into the project (in fact, encouraged by supportive words from my CUP editor, in advance of having a formal contract). I’m well over 100 pages in, doing a very great deal of rewriting, and I think the result is a lot better — well, I would, wouldn’t I!

Now, I have just had a letter from my CUP editor, saying

Although a number of second editions of Cambridge books go forward without a review process, my senior colleagues are taking the view that for a textbook like this one, it would be good to canvass some opinion about the current edition and the changes/additions which you’re planning for the new one. They have put this request to me and to several other editors who are currently proposing second editions of textbooks.

Could you, therefore, come up with some names of people who you know are or have been using the book in teaching and who you think would be willing to give us their opinions? A group of about five or six names, including those of several people based in the US, would be extremely helpful.

Now, although I know of one or two, I confess I’ve not been keeping count of who has been using the text and who hasn’t (not a great number I think, given the sales aren’t exactly keeping me in luxury!). So if you know and like the book well enough to feel able to put in a good word with the Press for the idea of a second edition if they approach you, I’d be very grateful if you could drop me a line to ps218 at the usual cam.ac.uk.   Thanks!


IFL2: a first instalment

OK, I have been tinkering with the opening chapters of my Introduction to Formal Logic, trying to improve them for the planned second edition. Here then are the early chapters up to and including the first Interlude, in an initial re-draft [link now removed]. Some quick notes:

  • I haven’t yet revised the end-of-chapter Exercises.
  • If you don’t know my book, then as in the first edition, Chapters 1 to 3 correspond roughly to e.g. the preamble chapter in Benson Mates’s book. Then Chapters 4 and 5 say something about showing invalid inference are invalid by the counterexample trick, and about showing valid inference are valid by coming up with multi-step proofs.
  • The old Chapter 6 has disappeared, however, with some material working into the end of Chapter. 5. I plan now to talk more about the validity of arguments with contradictory premisses later, and no longer think it good policy to muddy the waters by discussing this too soon.
  • This version, then, is 44 pages rather than 52 pages as before. I hope the result is overall crisper, clearer and better focussed, and certainly some repetition has disappeared. (To be honest, I cringe a  bit at some passages in the first edition!)
  • So … comments and corrections are most welcome! Regular readers here, please do, do chip in if you have anything useful to say. But also, if you have some students, beginners or recent beginners, who would be interested in giving feedback, please do point them this first excerpt from the book. In fact, encourage them by telling them that, when I asked for advice/comments on chapters from the second edition of my Gödel book, there was no correlation at all between seniority and the usefulness of suggestions.
  • Comments are probably better sent by email (rather than using the comments box — since this is much easier for your writing and a bit easier for my reading). If you have lots of comments, the ideal is perhaps to return a marked-up PDF. But whatever works for you! Use ps218 at cam dot ac dot uk
  • I’ll keep the current version fixed now for a few weeks, rather than revise piecemeal as comments arrive.

Enjoy, as they say!

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