Saturday, May 10, 2008

Open Access Logic Textbooks

I've decided that my students should not have to pay for a logic textbook. Most textbooks are obscenely expensive., but logic textbooks in particular get in my craw. The formal systems that they teach have been a part of the human intellectual heritage for over a hundred years, and the textbooks don't do anything in particular to make more approachable for students. They survive on the laziness of instructors, not on any originality content or presentation

So logic is going to be the first class that I teach to use a free, open access textbook. But which one? Changing textbooks is hard. For a long time I used Hurley at SLU I switched to Barwise and Etchemendy, but I never quite adapted to it, and since it was too sophisticated for LCCC students, I've gone back to Hurley. But Hurley is crazy expensive at $155. So what to do?

Here is my first very quick survey

blogic, by David Velleman: Respected author, looks like a nice approach, but seems to be pitched at the same level as Barwise and Etchemendy. Also, there doesn't seem to be a download or print version available.

For All x: Covers all and only the standard topics with the standard approach. It looks like I could take this on without seriously changing the preps from my Hurley course. Available as .pdf or as a print-on-demand book from Lulu. The author says that when he teaches it, he simply takes the book to the copy shop and has it printed as a coursepack. very nice.

Introduction to Logic Online interactive textbook. Would be nice if I were teaching online, but would be an adjustment from what I currently do. Covers all and only the topics I want to cover, though.

Introduction to Logic
A collection of modules from the Conections website of free course modules. Hard to adapt or for cc students to relate to. Tied to the Teachlogic website which looks mostly like it is about infusing logic into the computer science curriculum.

Formal Logic from wikibooks. Doesn't look approachable.

Heck, the Magnus book looks like just the item. That was quick. I wounder how quickly I can replace all my texts with open access books. There are some books, like Liszka's ethics text that I wouldn't want to replace, just because the book is so high quality. Munson's bioethics book is also very popular among students. My intro class right now relies on primary historical sources, which are generally available for free on line, but students have little problem shelling out $10 for the penguin version. I guess Critical Thinking should be next.

Other open access textbook resources

Make Textbooks Affordable



Also useful:

Some free logic software from Hatzic. Not sure how to work this in pedagogically.


Matthew said...

$155? Holy crap! My copy of Hurley cost 65.95 according to the sticker (and that was through the bookstore). Is there some horrible textbook shortage going on? I still use this book, mainly because it has great examples of fallacies from real life.

Barwise and Etchemendy was useful for symbolic logic, but I always thought of it more from a programming perspective than from a way to apply it to the natural (and social) world. I don't have my copy right with me at the moment, but I agree that it's a litte dry for an intro class.

forallx by Magnus does look good. I may keep a copy for my arsenal.

P.D. said...

Thanks for the kind comments about forall x. If you do decide to use it, please drop me an e-mail and let me know. I am up for tenure soon, and documentation that the book is being used can help it count.

XCthulhu said...

Harold Simmons has three texts on more advanced topics I have found helpful:

Lambda Calculus:

Category Theory:

Model Theory:

For a more historical text, Project Gutenberg has a really nice copy of Boole's Laws of Thought:

Furthermore Blackburn, van Bentham and Wolter have provided PDF copies of the entries in their Handbook of Modal Logic here:

And finally, for those into history of Modal Logic there's Goldblatt's nice discussion:

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

PD: I'm almost certainly adopting the book, and once I get the new version of the course established I'll be happy to write a letter to your institution on how much I enjoy using it.

Xcthulu, thanks for the links. Why are the open access texts on advanced topics? Most of the people who need a break from textbook prices are like my community college students, taking very basic courses.

jdkbrown said...

When I teach logic, I use Teller's A Modern Formal Logic Primer. Teller holds the copyright, and he's made it available for free at

There's also a natural deduction proof-checker that goes along with it.

Mikolka said...


I am sorry but $155 for Hurley? Are you sure you are not making a mistake?
In Europe, this book costs less than 60 euros (here:,
, and less than £75 in UK (here:

Mikolka said...

Sorry, the addresses are cut. Have a look at and!

Antony Eagle said...

I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to mention my open access logic textbook too. The pdf is freely available from I, like PD Magnus, made the text available through Lulu and just printed it on demand when I needed to teach from it. If I recall, it's a bit more mathematically advanced than PD's though.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Thanks for the link, and for making your text open access. I'll put it on the list of texts I'm considering for the spring. They'll probably be another post about this when I actually make my decision.

Walt said...

Because writing books on advanced topics is fun, and you wouldn't make much money at it. Writing a book on a elementary topic is less fun, plus you can make money at it.

David said...

Richmond Thomason has posted free PDF and PostScript versions of his classic text Symbolic Logic: An Introduction (1970) here:

Anonymous said...

David. Thomason's download requires a password. could you post, or email to

many thanks!

Believeordoubt said...

Thanks for the info. Has anyone found an intro textbook that includes informal logic and basic inductive logic at a freshman level (something like the Hurley text, but free:))?

Believeordoubt said...

Thanks for the info. Has anyone found an intro to logic book with informal logic, fallacies, categorical logic, and the like?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Believe or Doubt: I've been looking for exactly that, something that can replace Hurley. Most recently I've found Cathal Woods' Introduction to Reasoning. I know Cathal is looking for people to adopt it on a trial basis. You should contact him. I'm going to probably use it in the spring.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

You should also check out Peter Bradley' Inquiry it is a bit more cog-sci oriented that the book by Woods I linked to above, but still good.

Here is my most recent post on the need for open access textbooks in philosophy.