An Introduction to Formal Logic

Quick links

The book and how to get it

An Introduction to Formal Logic was originally published by Cambridge University Press (1st edition 2003; 2nd edition 2020). It began life as lecture notes for a course for first-year philosophers which I taught for many years.

As a small contribution to students in these tough times, a corrected version of the second edition is now available as a freely downloadable PDF. (And it is good to see that it is now steadily downloaded about 850 times a month.)

Many people, however, prefer if possible to work from a physical book. And you can now get a print-on-demand copy of IFL as an inexpensive large-format paperback from Amazon. UK link; US link. Find on your local Amazon by using the ASIN identifier B08GB4BDPG in their search field. (You don’t get the original pretty cover; but otherwise the quality of the printing and paper is very acceptable, especially given the comparatively very low price. Apologies that this is Amazon only, but this is the way to keep the price right down.)

There is also a nicer but still inexpensive hardback version intended for libraries, available from bookshops and library suppliers as well as from online sellers, with the  ISBN 978-1916906327. Note that since this reprint isn’t coming from a publisher with a marketing department, you will need to actually ask your university librarian to order a printed copy for the library. Please, please do so!

This second edition has been very extensively revised and rewritten,  and one particular difference from the first edition should be highlighted here. The book now focuses on a natural deduction proof system done Fitch-style, while the previously edition  introduced so-called truth trees (tableaux). However, revised versions of the old chapters on truth trees for propositional and for predicate logic are still available, but now as (freely available) online supplements; so those teaching a tree-based course based on the first edition aren’t being cut adrift.

If you want to get an idea of the way the book proceeds without skimming the whole PDF, then the section-by-section table of contents should give you a good indication:

If you want to know about the particular natural deduction system adopted — since no two books seem to use exactly the same ND system —  you’ll get a good idea from


Logicbites

In lieu of podcasts introducing chapters or pairs of chapters (it’s difficult to handle symbols in an audio format!), here’s a series of bitesized informal written introductions giving some orientation in a reasonably relaxed way:


Corrections!

Inevitably — it is a law of book-writing! — there will be typos (and possibly thinkos too) which need correction. They will be listed on the following

There are currently 15 typos which need correction of which only two or three are likely to cause puzzlement. (Printed and PDF versions of the book will be intermittently updated as corrections accrue.)


The exercises, and worked answers

There is a (fairly modest) set of exercises at the end of most chapters. There are standalone versions for most of the  question sets and (often very detailed) worked answers here:

If you are looking for  answers to the exercises in the first edition, then go to this page.


On truth trees

Ideally beginners should end up knowing about both ND and truth trees (tableaux); different teachers will make different choices of which to do first. If you want to use the book for a tree-based course, or want to find out about trees later, here are some more chapters! (Relevant exercises will follow.)


Legacy pages: the first edition

  • For corrections to the first edition and answers to the exercises, then go to this page.

Other supplementary materials of various kinds

Here too are some legacy handouts that might still prove useful:


Other books?

There are many other first introductions to logic at a similar level to IFL, some terrible, some mediocre, and a few very good. I think the best alternative introduction is my namesake Nick Smith’s excellent Logic: The Laws of Truth (Princeton UP).

See my Study Guide for some suggestions for going further in logic.

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