Should an introductory logic course satisfy a college’s or university’s general education math requirement? A reader wants to know:

I have a two-part question for the blog readership:

1. Are there any colleges or universities in Florida that will permit an Introduction to Logic course to satisfy part of their math Gen Ed requirements? My understanding from one or two other contacts is that while logic can be approved as a substitute with an appeal and a counselor’s approval, it isn’t accepted as satisfying part of the math Gen Ed requirement without an appeal, and only then under special circumstances.

2. Is there any evidence, other than the anecdotal kind, that dyscalculia or other math-related learning disabilities do not affect the ability to learn or do logic? (FYI: I am skeptical of this claim, but able to change my mind!)

Thanks for any and all answers.

Regarding the first question, as far as I know, an introductory logic course will not satsify the general education math requirement at UNF. Regarding the second question, I am unaware of any such evidence suggesting that “math-related learning disabilities do not affect the ability to learn or do logic,” and even the anecdotal evidence of which I am aware is extremely thin. What is the perspective on these issues from those at other colleges and universities?

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on May 5, 2008 at 11:09 pm |DanWhen I went to FAU, our version of an introductory logic course fulfilled part of the requirement for math, although I still had to take the CLAST test. I can’t see why any of this would change.

on May 6, 2008 at 10:46 am |SalAt UWF Intro to Logic satisfies Gordon Rule requirements for Applied Math, but it does not satisfy General Studies requirements.

on May 6, 2008 at 11:04 am |Sabrina JamilWhen I was an undergrad at FSU, Intro to Symbolic Logic counted as 3 hours for liberal studies math.

on May 6, 2008 at 12:01 pm |SalI hear that Florida International does.

on May 6, 2008 at 12:18 pm |KentonI am an academic advisor at FIU. PHI2100 (Into to Logic) does indeed fulfill one of the two required lower division computational reasoning courses (Gordon Rule) provided the student pass with a “C” or higher. Our general education requirements (here called the “UCC”) are not uncommon in the SUS in that we require a student complete either two Pure Math courses or one Pure Math and one other computational course. In the latter case students can choose from a set of select Statistics or Computer Science courses or Logic. As has been noted earlier, while Logic can be used for this general education requirement, it cannot be used for CLAST. However, these requirements to vary slightly across SUS institutions. For instance MAC1105 (College Algebra) does NOT fulfill a math requirement for our UCC though at many other institutions it does. Curiously, MAC1105 CAN be used for CLAST purposes.

on May 6, 2008 at 12:35 pm |StephanieI cannot answer the first part, but maybe I can help with the second part. I am a currently a Logic TA and we have a student with dyscalculia this semester. While she has done well with the informal fallacies and deductive/inductive arguments, she has had trouble with other sections such as propositional logic.

Certainly, each person is different and those diagnosed and helped earlier might not need such a substitution.

Here’s a website that mentions why people with dyscalculia might have just as much trouble with logic as they do with math: http://www.learning-aids.com/dyscalculia

on May 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm |charles matthewsI took Symbolic Logic, worked as a COBOL programmer, have a math minor with physics major, and practiced law for 33 years, teaching logic here and there. Introductory Logic, even the rare course focused on propositional calculus instead of the “soft stuff” (i. e., spotting fallacies, studying the sloppiness of language, and the difficulties in translating everyday discourse into syllogisms), can’t replace math, because math requires that numbers of separate things be kept in mind and there’s no “soft stuff” in it.

University degrees should not be devalued by softening the requirements either for everyone or for individual students, unless there is a spectrum of degrees awarded, one for each level of student competence and work. So what would a “second” or a “third” from Florida’s very own Oxford-style universities be worth? For one thing, it would mean that a “first” would be something to be proud of.

Unless, of course, we are into dumbing down the curriculum – a real pity.

on May 6, 2008 at 2:11 pm |KateIn response to the comment above, accommodating disabilities should not be written off as “dumbing down the curriculum,” unless you do mean to say that those with disability claims should literally be given second or third class degrees. This is not to say that one should not think that, but the issue is more complicated than it may seem.

Anyway, what seems worse than letting formal logic count for the “easy” math requirement is that some courses in statistics focus on how to program a PDA to crunch the data. These statistic courses count for the “hard” math requirement, regardless of disability claim.

What might be of interest is that there are cases where a critical thinking course is substituted for logic/math.

on May 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm |Joshua RustI teach at Stetson University, here in FL. We currently don’t allow logic to be substituted for GE math, although a proposal to do this is in the works.

In no case should logic be substituted for *remedial* math courses, where what is taught has some application to day-to-day life (including statistics). But as students move to upper level math courses, the benefits of mathematical study changes: math encourages a slow, thoughtful, deliberate, procedural approach to problem-solving. And these same skills can be achieved by way of a study of logic.

Ron Hall, who also teaches at Stetson, mentioned to me that a previous University at which he taught allowed for this kind of substitution. Whether or not logic is in fact easier than math is one question. But there’s little question as to the fact that many students *perceive* the study of logic as being easier. For one thing, because logic isn’t taught at the primary and secondary level, it can evade the feelings of dread many students come to associate with math. Hall told me that students would often express their gratitude at not having to take math, even though the logic course might in fact not have been any easier. Logic offers a way for students to further acquire general problem-solving skills, while avoiding the stigma which many students attach to math.

on May 7, 2008 at 12:11 pm |DanAt Florida Southern College we currently require two quantitative courses as part of GenEd. The first course must be a course taught in the Mathematics program by faculty in that program. (All such courses have an MAT prefix.) However, the second quantitative course may be selected from among a number of appropriate courses within and beyond mathematics. PHI 207 (General Logic) can satisfy this second quantitative requirement.

on April 8, 2009 at 10:28 am |Rico VitzFor those who might still be interested in this thread, there is a related discussion here: http://oohlah.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/logic-and-the-gen-ed-mathematics-requirements/

For the sake of clarity regarding the post at Praeter Necessitatum, the original question is not, strictly speaking, my own. I raised it on behalf of a reader. My own view is that an introductory logic course should not satisfy a college’s or university’s general education math requirement.