Philosophy offers new minor in logic

Students at Oswego State are now being offered a new minor from the department of philosophy titled “Logic.” The minor involves classes in philosophy, computer science, mathematics and cognitive science.

“The minor is not yet on the books yet,” said Craig Delancey, the philosophy professor who designed the program. “But one student has already signed up, and several other students have expressed the intention of adopting the minor when it is in the catalog.”

Delancey said that the philosophy department has a close relationship with the cognitive science program and that they currently offer a philosophy-psychology mixed degree. He said that it was through the cognitive science program that a number of computer science students became interested in logic courses.

After taking an introductory logic course, they became interested in what course would follow.

“Also there are people in philosophy who came and took ‘Introduction to Logic’ and said ‘What’s next?’,” Delancey said. “Actually some years ago some students got together a petition to ask that advanced logic be taught, because we hadn’t taught it in so long.”

In a time when our society is becoming increasingly digitalized, Delancey said an education in logic could be especially valuable.

“A lot of things are being run by computers and so much of business is being highly integrated with the Internet,” Delancey said. “It’s a kind of skill that becomes more and more useful in understanding information technology and the processes that occur.”

The school currently offers two classes that are strictly about logic, the introduction class and the advanced class.

“But really, if you take discrete mathematics, you’re taking logic and math combined,” Delancey said. “If you take computer programming, you’re taking logic applied to computer programming, especially if you take machine theory. So there’s two on-the-books dedicated courses to the study of logic but there are many courses that involve logic in them.”

The new minor requires 21 credit hours to complete, and in its core requirements includes a class on discrete mathematics, valid reasoning I & II, logic, language and thought, as well as two courses on computer programming. For elective requirements, students can choose from either of two computer-programming courses, two philosophy courses on language and science, or a course in cognitive science or another course in mathematics called “Number Theory.”

Logic courses generally follow a format in which students learn first how to create a formal language that is used to assure that communication can be precise.

“In parallel with that, and probably more importantly, we can use that then to study reasoning and arguments,” Delancey said. “Logic is really the only discipline that tells you, ‘What makes a good argument?’ So we give a definition for good arguments, study what makes good arguments, and study how to recognize a good argument.”

“Students with skills in logic will be well prepared for careers in the information sciences,” Delancey said. “Programming, for example, is essentially applied logic.”

Andy Buchman, a cognitive science and philosophy-psychology dual major, is the first Oswego State student to sign up for the new minor.

“My motivation for pursuing the minor was how well it compliments my majors,” Buchman said. “As a potential graduate student in philosophy, the logic minor provides a more in-depth study of logic. Not only will this strengthen my skills, but also make my college resume more robust.”

Buchman was already taken some of the classes for the Logic minor, including the class in logic, language and thought.

“This was one of the most interesting courses I have taken at Oswego,” Buchman said. “One would not suspect the story of logic to be so rich and fascinating.”