PD Magnus’s Book Selected as Introductory Logic Text at University of Cambridge

A free textbook written by philosophy professor PD Magnus is now required reading for students taking introductory logic in Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge. Professor Magnus wrote the text, forallx, for Introduction to Logic here at UAlbany and uploaded it onto his website for students and instructors elsewhere to access.

“Logic is about giving reasons for beliefs, about justifying conclusions on the basis of premises. In a word, it is about evaluating and constructing arguments," Magnus says. “My book is a book about formal logic. In formal logic, sentences and arguments in English are translated into mathematical languages with well-defined properties. The idea is that properties of arguments that were hard to discern in English become clearer when the argument is formalized.”

An understanding of logic, Magnus says, is fundamental in comprehending many philosophical debates that may otherwise be elusive, particularly for students who are new to the discipline.

The topic of logic, though, is quite broad and, Magnus says, textbook authors typically try to address the resulting variation in instructor styles and course designs with 500+ page compendiums. Consequently, the textbooks available to students contain far more information than could possibly be covered in one course. forallx is a little less than 160 pages; despite its availability as a pdf, Professor Magnus wrote the text for use as a hardcopy and encourages his students to print the textbook.

Since its posting, the text has been downloaded over 100,000 times and has been used as part of courses at institutions such as Bentley College, University of California Irvine, University of California San Diego, Carnegie Mellon, University of Houston, Hunter College, University of Lethbridge (where it was used in an abstract mathematics course), Imperial College London, Loraine County Community College, University of Pittsburgh, Rhode Island College, University of Manchester, University of Warsaw, University of Washington, and the University of West Florida.

Professor Magnus found out about Cambridge’s use of the text when he was contacted by a librarian asking how the book should be listed. The course leader had edited a version especially for the students at Cambridge, a kind of use allowed because the text is offered under an open license.

The University of Cambridge is the second-oldest English-speaking institution of higher education in the world. Founded by Royal Charter in 1231, Cambridge is a collection of 31 independent colleges. Corpus Christi College was incorporated in 1352 by two local guilds to train priests and is the sixth-oldest constituent college at Cambridge. It admits the fewest number of undergraduates.

The book is listed on Corpus Christi’s philosophy website:

The full version of forallx can be found on Professor Magnus’s website: