Students nowadays might struggle in more advanced logic courses not just because the material is difficult, but because they’re used to learning logic with software, which is commonly used in introductory courses, but less so in higher-level ones.
Ian Schnee (University of Washington) uses Logic for Philosophy by Ted Sider (Rutgers) in his intermediate and advanced logic courses. Because “the axiomatic systems used in advanced classes can feel very foreign” to his students, Professor Schnee wrote software to accompany Sider’s book—a “proof machine”—and he has made it available for others to use for free over the web (no downloading required). Check it out here.
There’s an instructional video on that page (scroll down a little).
He shared a few tips:
- The symbols can all be written with a standard keyboard: use “~” for negation and “->” for arrow (dash + greater than).
- The citations are formatted like a natural deduction system, so write “MP;2,5” or “MP:2,5” to do modus ponens citing lines 2 and 5.
- If the toolbox is enabled in modes, then toolbox rules can be cited as rules as well. For example, cite “EF;2,5” or “EF:2,5” to cite lines 2 and 5 for ex falso.
- All of Sider’s practice problems can be found below the instructional video. The practice problems fix which parts of the toolbox one is allow to use. They allow students to work along with the software as they go through the textbook. The practice problems are grouped into three levels of difficulty.
I’m very happy to hear feedback from folks (such as if you think the UI should be different). If others have ideas for more practice problems for students, please send them to me ([email protected]) and I’ll add them! Also, if others would find it useful for their class to have full FOL or modal logic added, let me know.