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Philosophy/Philosophy Major


Hello I am currently interested in becoming a Philosophy major as and Undergrad. I am currently applying to several universities and colleges to see which one I will get into. I noticed something though regarding their philosophy curriculum specifically their logic requirement. Some of the schools require formal logic, and some require symbolic logic and one of the schools offers deductive logic as the logic course I should take. Are these three logic courses the same with just different terms or names? Sorry if it's a dumb question.

First of all, philosophy is a wonderful subject, but I have to strongly discourage you from majoring in it. The only thing you can do with it is teach philosophy, and the number of open slots is very low, and the chance of tenure lower. On the other hand, combining it with computer science is a very powerful combination that will make you employable for life.

That said, on to logic.

The basis of formal logic is in Aristotle -- "All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; Therefore, Socrates is mortal." Aristotle looked at the question why that argument seems compelling and "All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; Therefore, Socrates is a giraffe" don't seem to work. The study of logic on this level is called formal logic. Deductive logic, which studies how conclusions follow from premises, is a part of that.

Symbolic logic is the "mathematization" of formal and deductive logic. It tries to apply the methods of mathematics to logic and has produced some fascinating stuff. (Go to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online and look up Godel's Theorem. Symbolic logic has a lot of overlap with proof theory in mathematics.

Hope this helps.




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Charles K. MacKay


I can answer a number of questions in philosophy; my academic concentrations (graduate school at Cornell) are ethics, political philosophy, and 19th-century German philosophy (Marx, Hegel, and hangers-on.)



BA, New College, 1971, Philosophy and Religion
Awarded four graduate fellowships upon graduation

MA, Cornell University, 1974
Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

All course work and dissertation drafts completed for Ph.D. Cornell University, 1971-1975, Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

Courses in statistics and microeconomics, George Washington University and The American University, 1976-1978

EXPERIENCE: Health Insurance Specialist 2005 - Present
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service
US Department of Health and Human Services

Allentown Business School Instructor (Computer Science) 2003 - 2005

Northampton Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy 2003 -2005

Lehigh County Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science


Medicare Made Easy (with Charles B. Inlander) Addison-Wesley, 1989

Good Operations, Bad Operations (with Charles B. Inlander) Viking Press, 1993

Health Rebooted: Information Changes Everything (in press), 2008

Bachelor of Arts, Philosphy and Religion, New College, 1971 Master of Arts, Social and Political Philosophy, Cornell University, 1975

Awards and Honors
Danforth Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Fellowship

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