Philosophy and Logic: A Self-Paced Course

Professor Austen Clark
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269


Required Texts:

Philosophy and Logic: A Self Paced Course. 3rd Edition. by yours truly, printed by the UConn Coop.

How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff. 46th (!) printing. Available at the COOP.

Recommended Text:

Patrick Hurley, A Concise Introduction to Logic, 1999 edition. This has additional explanations and exercises that are close enough to mine to be useful; some students in the past have asked for such a recommendation. The book also comes with a CD-ROM with software that might be useful in practicing for tests. The package costs $64, though.

Course structure

Mondays and Wednesdays we meet as a body. On Thursday or Friday you meet in a smaller section, run by a graduate student in philosophy, who serves as a teaching assistant (TA). Learn your section number and TAís name. All work you hand in should be identified with both.

My Office Hours & Other Channels:

See how to contact us.

Course Format, Requirements, etc.

This is a "self paced" course. It works as follows.

1. Material for the course is organized in six units. On each unit you will take at least one test. If you do poorly on a given unit, you can take another test on it. You can keep on doing this until you either get the grade you want on that unit, you run out of time, or you run out of tests. Then you go on to the next unit.

2. Your final grade in the course is determined solely by the average of your best grades over the six units. To get an "A" your best scores on the six units must add up to at least 540 points (i.e., 6 x 90). To get a "B" your best scores must add up to at least 480. And so on.

3. The section meetings with your TA at the end of each week are devoted entirely to taking tests. It is up to you to decide when you are ready to take a test on a given unit, and to know which test you want to take. If you donít want to take any test that week, there is no need to go to the section meeting.

4. No one will tell you when to go take a test. (Thatís what "self-paced" means!) Given that there are only 14 possible testing sessions, however, and 6 units, it is probably a good strategy to plan on taking a test every week. That would give you two or three chances on every unit.

5. On Mondays and Wednesdays I will lecture on the material, at a pace designed to finish the course easily by the end of the semester. The topic for each day is laid out in advance (see the schedule). Most students will find attendance at lectures to be essential in learning the material. Past students have commented that it is easy to pass logic courses if you come to class, and stick with the recommended schedule.

6. But if you can learn the material on your own, you have my encouragement to proceed as quickly as possible, and just take the tests. You can go as fast as you like. In past incarnations of self-paced courses I have had some students finish by mid-semester.

7. However, there are deadlines on how slowly one can proceed. Basically you must finish tests on a given unit by two weeks after the date I have finished lecturing on it. (See deadlines, below; and see the schedule). We need to finish by the end of the semester!

8. In the textbook each unit starts with a study guide that describes the material to be covered, the sorts of problems on the test, and suggested exercises. You will need to do practice problems from the book to study for each test.

Assignments Summarized

Six units. Multiple one-hour tests available for each unit.

Your final grade = the average of your six best scores, one from each unit.

The final exam can be used to pull up this average (see below).

Test procedure

1. In the first week be sure to go to your section meeting, to learn who your TA is, where you meet, what his or her office hours are, where the office is, how to contact the TA outside of class, etc. You will learn how your scores will be communicated back to you, and how to review tests with the TA. You might also want to take a test on unit 1!

2. Tests may take up to 50 minutes, but many will take less time. You can take only one test on a given unit during a given test session.

3. You will need to know which tests on a given unit you have already taken. Obviously enough, you will get no credit for taking the same test twice. Donít expect the TA to remember which tests you have taken!

4. To take a test on unit 1, show up at the session in enough time to finish, pick a seat and put your stuff away, then go up and ask the TA for a test on unit 1. By a few weeks into the semester, the TA will be carrying tests on multiple units to each weekly session.

5. Basically the TA will "shuffle the deck" of tests on a given unit, so which one you get in a given session will be totally unpredictable. If test 1.2 happens to be at the top of the deck, and you have already taken test 1.2, just tell the TA. Youíll get the next one in the pile that is not test 1.2. It might be 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, etc.: the selection is random.

6. All tests must be returned with your name and the date. Even if you merely look at a test and do no work on it, you still must sign and return the test.

7. Tests will be graded and results posted by class time on the following Monday. We may use the internet to make this easier.

8. TAís will set aside office hours for several hours early in the week. If you have any questions about the test itself, you can go over the test with the TA during those office hours, before you need to take another one.


1. The schedule shows when I am finished lecturing on the material for a given unit. You should take a first test on that unit no later than the end of that week. I strongly recommend you try to work ahead, and take the first test the week before I have finished lecturing on the material. Then in the following week you could ask me questions about material you did not understand. (Please donít ask about specific test items, since others in the class wonít yet have taken the particular test that you did!)

2. In some self-paced courses there are no lectures at all. The instructor simply answers questions, in group tutorial format. I donít know how well this would work in a big class, but I will set aside time to try it.

3. After I have finished lecturing on a given unit, you have a maximum of two more weeks in which you could take tests on that unit. But if you need both of them, you have already fallen behind--and youíll have trouble taking the test for unit 6!

4. After that two week period, TAís simply wonít carry tests on that unit to test sessions any more. Your only option thereafter to improve scores on the given unit is to come to the Final Exam (see next).

5. Even if you score low or totally miss an earlier unit, you can (and should) start work on the next one. You are not required to pass earlier units before going on. If you leave too much to do at the end, however, it will be impossible to do very well in the course.

6. Deadlines are noted on the schedule. Please note that there are no test sessions in the last week of classes!

Final Exam

1. The Final Exam is non-punitive, in the sense that a low score on it cannot hurt your running average--the average of your best scores for each of the six units. We will only take scores of the Final Exam into account if they help that average.

2. It follows that if you are happy with your running average when classes end, there is no need for you to take the Final.

3. But if you have fallen behind, missed tests, or just want to try to pull up your average, your only option after classes end is to take the Final Exam.

4. The Exam will be comprehensive, including material from all six units. (Given the size of the class, we must give the same exam to everybody. And this is another way to encourage everyone to try to finish early.)

5. The score on the entire final exam can be used to make up unit scores on at most two units. So if you are in the unfortunate position of having 0ís as "best scores" for three units, even after the final exam you will still have a 0 on at least one of them.

Some final implications of being "self paced"

1. No incompletes will be given.

2. No one will be allowed to switch to auditing the course.

3. Since you are never required to come to any test session, you never need an excuse for missing one. But, for the same reason, no extra test sessions will be scheduled for "make ups".

4. Likewise, no "ABS" grades will be given for the final exam. The fourteen section meetings and final exam period are your only opportunities to take tests.

5. If you are unlucky enough to become so ill or incapacitated that you miss many weeks of test sessions, you should come talk to me. The best idea for someone that ill is to withdraw from all your courses, and I will help you to do so. (Itís not worth wasting tuition money if you canít study. The Dean of Students can also help.)

6. Anyone cheating on any test or found to have given or received any information on the questions asked in any test will receive an F for the course and notification will be sent to the Dean. Those convicted have a permanent notation made in their academic record. (Itís not worth it!)