PHIL 305 - Introduction to Formal Philosophical Methods
Winter 2021, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Many philosophical debates have been enhanced by the use of mathematical tools. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to those tools, and enhance their skills in using them. Any student who is interested in the use of mathematical tools in reasoning, either because they want to use those tools themselves, or because they want to critically examine others' usage of the tools, will benefit from the course. We will start with propositional and predicate logic, which is presupposed in everything else we do, and is relevant to the analysis of arguments. Then we will look at modal logic, the logic of 'must'. This is relevant to the theory of necessity in metaphysics, to the theory of knowledge in epistemology, and to the theory of obligation in ethics. We will look at 'non-classical' logics, and why some logician have thought that we need to modify logic itself to solve philosophical puzzles. The final part of the course will look at probability, decision making and game playing. We will go over the orthodox theory of how rational agents think and act under uncertainty. And we will look at applications of this theory to explaining puzzles from the history of science and from economics. Then we will look at the theory of games, the theory of how agents act when their outcomes depend on what they do, and on what other rational agents do. We will explain the fundamental notion of game theory, Nash equilibrium, and show how game theory can be used to explain puzzling behavior.

Course Requirements:

The course assessment will be based largely on problem sets throughout the course, with a final exam.


PHIL 305 - Introduction to Formal Philosophical Methods
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (DIS)
W 2:00PM - 3:00PM
003 (DIS)
W 3:00PM - 4:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for PHIL 305.001

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for PHIL 305 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)