PHIL 483 A: Induction And Probability

Meeting Time: 
MWF 1:00pm - 2:20pm
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Conor Mayo-Wilson
Conor Mayo-Wilson

Additional Details:

David Hume famously argued that we have no rational basis for believing a claim unless it is logically or mathematically demonstrable.  If true, Hume's conclusion would mean that most of our scientific theories are unjustified, as well as many of our more mundane beliefs about the future and the past.  Hume's argument -- now called the problem of induction -- remains a central puzzle in epistemology and philosophy of science.  Probability theory and statistics are now the primary tools used to quantify certainty and degrees of justification. So we will focus on how these tools might be used to address Hume’s argument. In particular, we will investigate theories of scientific objectivity, interpretations of probability (subjective and objective), and foundational approaches to statistics (frequentist and Bayesian) to assess whether the tools of modern science provide a satisfactory solution to the problem of induction.

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to current accounts of evidence and observation, the confirmation of scientific theories, the logic of inductive reasoning, and the metaphysics and epistemology of chance. High school-level math used. Specific topics vary from year to year. Prerequisite: PHIL 120.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Natural World (NW)
Last updated: 
October 20, 2020 - 9:05am