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Symbolic Logic

Symbolic logic is the method of representing logical expressions through the use of symbols and
variables, rather than in ordinary language. This has the benefit of removing the ambiguity that
normally accompanies ordinary languages, such as English, and allows easier operation.

Definition: A conjunction is a compound statement formed by joining two statements with


the connector AND. The conjunction "p and q" is symbolized by p q. A
conjunction is true when both of its combined parts are true; otherwise it is
false.

Now that we have defined a conjunction, we can apply it to Example 1. The conjunction p
q is true when both "Ann is on the softball team" and "Paul is on the football team" are true
statements; otherwise it is false. We can construct a truth table for the conjunction "p and q."
In order to list all truth values of p q, we start by listing every combination of truth values
in the first two columns of the truth table below.

p q p q
T T T
T F F
F T F
F F F

The truth table above lists the truth values of p q. A truth table is an excellent tool for
listing the truth values of a conjunction (or any compound statement). (Note: Throughout
our lessons on symbolic logic, we will always construct truth tables with the first two
columns listed exactly as above. The order of the truth values in these first columns is
critical to finding all truth values for a given statement. This order will also apply to other
formats used to list truth values in more advanced lessons.) Let's look at some more
examples of conjunction.

Definition: The negation of statement p is "not p." The negation of p is symbolized by


"~p." The truth value of ~p is the opposite of the truth value of p.

Solution: Since p is true, ~p must be false.

p: The number 9 is odd. true


~p: The number 9 is not odd. false

p ~p ~(~p)
TF T
F T F

Definition: A disjunction is a compound statement formed by joining two statements


with the connector OR. The disjunction "p or q" is symbolized by p q. A
disjunction is false if and only if both statements are false; otherwise it is true.
The truth values of p q are listed in the truth table below.

p q p q
TT T
TF T
F T T
F F F

Definition: A conditional statement, symbolized by p q, is an if-then statement in


which p is a hypothesis and q is a conclusion. The logical connector in a
conditional statement is denoted by the symbol . The conditional is
defined to be true unless a true hypothesis leads to a false conclusion. A truth
table for p q is shown below.

p q p q
TT T
TF F
F T T
F F T

Let's start off by introducing some punctuation that will indicate an argument form is
intended. We will separate the premises with commas and introduce the conclusion with this
symbol: |- (we call it an assertibility sign).

Let's work with a couple of examples.

We have these two arguments: (1) Logic is easy if it is fun, but it is not fun, so it must not be
easy.
(2) Logic is easy only if it is fun, but it is not fun, so it must not be
easy.

You already know how to symbolize each of the three statements making up each argument, so
we will now represent the complete arguments symbolically.
(1) Logic is easy if it is fun, but it is not fun, so it must not be easy. F->E, ~F |-
~E (remember not to just follow the English word order here)
(2) Logic is easy only if it is fun, but it is not fun, so it must not be easy. E->F,~F |- ~E

Now we are going to set up truth tables with the premises and the conclusion side by side.

E F F->E ~F ~E
1 1 1 0 0
1 0 1 1 0
0 1 0 0 1
0 0 1 1 1

The material conditional (also known as material implication, material consequence, or


simply implication, implies, or conditional) is alogical connective (or a binary operator) that is
often symbolized by a forward arrow "→". The material conditional is used to formstatements of
the form 𝑝 → 𝑞 (termed a conditional statement) which is read as "if 𝑝 then 𝑞" or "𝑝 only if 𝑞". It
is conventionally compared to the English construction "If...then...".

Truth table[edit]
The truth table associated with the material conditional p→q is identical to that of ¬p∨q. It is as
follows:

T T T

T F F

F T T

F F T