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B.A. Introduction to Logic 2012-13

Lecture 3: Propositional Logic I
Validity: An argument is valid if (and only if) theres no possibility that its premises are true while its conclusion is false. Soundness: An argument is sound if (and only if) its valid and has true premises. Validity, soundness, and goodness: Though validity and soundness are good-making features, there must be more to a good argument than its simply being valid or its simply being sound. Formal validity: An argument form is valid if (and only if) every instance of that form is valid. When a particular argument is an instance of a valid form, we can call that argument formally valid. Counterexamples: If an argument is an invalid instance of an argument form, we can say that its a counterexample to that form.

Introducing PL
On this course, were going to consider two formal, symbolic languages - those which Tomassi calls PL and QL. Today were going to start to look at PL. Whats the point of studying formal languages like these? One answer is that by studying formal languages like PL and QL, we can help ourselves to get much better at telling whether natural language arguments (such as those in English) are formally valid. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that by studying validity in formal languages, we can improve our ability to just see whether natural language arguments are formally valid. The second reason has to do with complicated natural language arguments: those where its really hard to just see whether the argument is formally valid. In these cases, we can use the following method to tell whether the argument is formally valid: (i) we translate the argument into a formal language, and then (ii) we use reliable, step-by-step procedures to test the formal language argument for its validity.

The simplest element of PL is the sentence-letter. A sentence-letter is an upper-case letter from the middle part of the alphabet (e.g. P, Q, R, etc.), which stands for a specific sentence. Question: Which sentence-letter stands for which specific sentence? Answer: Its up to you. But youll need to draw up a key to make it clear what you have decided. Example: Suppose we want to use sentence-letters to represent this argument:

1. If its raining, then you need an umbrella. 2. Its raining. So, 3. You need an umbrella. Our first step would be to draw up a key, like this: Its raining You need an umbrella P Q

Then we can represent the argument as: 1. If P, then Q 2. P So, 3. Q Tip: Try to make your sentence-letters stand for the simplest, most basic sentences that you can.

Logical connectives
The simplest sentences or, as we call them, formulas in PL are just the sentence-letters themselves. But we can combine sentence-letters to form complex formulas by using logical connectives. PL contains five logical connectives: &: And v: Or : If... then... : If and only if ~: Not The first four of these are used to connect two formulas together. They are called binary or two-place connectives. ~ can be applied to a single formula. Its called a unary or one-place connective. Examples: Suppose we want to represent the following five sentences (using the same key as above): 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Its raining and you need an umbrella. Its raining or you need an umbrella. If its raining, then you need an umbrella. Its raining if and only if you need an umbrella. Its not the case that its raining.

We can do this as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. P&Q PvQ PQ PQ 5. ~ P Some terminology: A formula of the form P & Q is called a conjunction. A formula of the form P v Q is called a disjunction. A formula of the form P Q is called a conditional. A formula of the form P Q is called a biconditional. A formula of the form ~ P is called a negation. Individual sentence-letters by themselves are called atomic formulas. When we combine atomic formulas by using logical connectives, we produce compound formulas.

Consider this sentence: Cats bark and cows bark or dogs bark. This sentence is ambiguous. We can highlight two different interpretations by using brackets, as follows: First interpretation: (Cats bark and cows bark) or dogs bark. Second interpretation: Cats bark and (cows bark or dogs bark). In English, using brackets in this way to remove potential ambiguities can be helpful, but it is not obligatory: the original sentence above, though ambiguous, is still a proper sentence. In PL, by contrast, it is obligatory to use brackets to remove potential ambiguities. For example, the following is not a well-formed formula in PL: Example: P & Q v R. PL does not allow this as a well-formed formula because it would be ambiguous in the same way as the original English sentence above, and PL does not allow for such ambiguities. So instead, we must write: (P & Q) v R or: P & (Q v R) Both of these are well-formed formulas of PL (though of course they are not equivalent). Question: how can you be sure that youre using brackets correctly? General rule of thumb: Start with the assumption that each connective needs its own set of brackets. In fact, some liberties can be taken here. One exception is that you dont need to put the entire formula in brackets (because this would never remove any ambiguity). Another exception concerns the use of ~. The convention is that (unless its explicitly specified otherwise with brackets), ~ always applies to the shortest formula which follows it. Example: ~P & Q This is a well-formed formula. It should be read as (~P) & Q, rather than ~ (P & Q).

Brackets remove ambiguities of the sort at issue because they indicate the scope of the logical connectives. The scope of a connective consists of the connective itself, together with the formula(s) which it connects. The main connective in a formula is the one whose scope is the entire formula. Example: P & (Q v R) The scope of v in this formula is (Q v R) The scope of &, by contrast, is the whole formula: P & (Q v R) Given that the main connective in this formula is &, we can say that the formula itself is a conjunction. (If the main connective in a formula is v, the formula is a disjunction, etc.)

Tomassi, P. Logic. Chapter 2, I II (up to page 39).

Exercise 2.1 (you should ignore question 4).