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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

General Description

  • The graduate logic exam is designed to test students understanding of the basic concepts and methods of formal logic. Generally speaking, it covers material that is taught in PHL 330, Formal Reasoning. As indicated in the syllabus for a recent offering, this course culminates in a discussion of the syntax and semantics of first order logic with identity, including the formal method of Natural Deduction. The emphasis in the course is upon mastery of the formal concepts and techniques of first order logic with identity. Questions included on the Graduate Logic Exam will be of the following four types:

    1. Basic Logical Concepts: including logical consequence, logical truth, logical equivalence, and the satisfiability of sets of sentences.

    2. Translation from the formal (symbolic) language of logic into natural language and from natural language into formal language.

    3. Using formal methods (e.g., natural deduction, truth trees) to demonstrate logical consequence.

    4. Constructing models or counter models of sets of sentences. 

  • For specific examples of these types of questions, see the sample exams: Spring 2006 , Fall 2005 and Spring 2011

  • Different formal methods for constructing proofs, models or counter models are allowed. The typical exam asks that you identify the formal method used in your answer to any question if you are able to (e.g., by the author of the text).

  • Finally, a letter testifying that a graduate student is competent to teach an introductory symbolic logic course, which is potentially useful when on the job market, cannot be written unless the student enrolls for the intermediate level logic course, PHL 432 (see sample syllabus). If you plan on taking PHL 432 (PHL 491 in the spring of 06), you wouldn't want to take the logic exam. Also, credits earned in PHL 432 count towards satisfying graduation requirements, whereas the credits earned in PHL 330 (which graduate students enroll in as an independent study) do not.


Graduate Logic Exam Schedule

The logic exam will be offered twice a year:

  • a day during the week before the start of the fall semester;

  • a day during the week before the first day of the term in January.

The graduate director will announce the specific time and place of the exam in advance. Students will be given 2 hours to take the exam. A faculty member who teaches PHL 330 (Formal Reasoning) will grade the exam. A pass is an 80% or above. Students who fail the exam will be required to take PHL 330. For further information consult the Philosophy Graduate Student Handbook.