**Confirmation**

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Professor |
Time & Place |

Branden Fitelson |
234 Moses Hall (Dennes) |

**TOC:** [Synopsis] [ Readings ] [ Requirements ] [ Website ] [ Tentative Schedule ]

**Synopsis**

This seminar has two parts. Part I, which will take up the vast bulk of the course (the first 11 weeks), will focus on the historical development of confirmation theory— *qua* *logical/epistemological* *theory*. Specifically, we will focus mainly on various historical approaches to (and problems/paradoxes involving) *instantial* confirmation. We will begin with some pre-history about induction up to (and including) Hume. Then, we will focus on literature from the 1920–1960-ish period, starting with parts of Keynes's (1921) *A Treatise on Probability*. The climax of Part I will involve a careful reading of Goodman's (1955) "New Riddle of Induction". The denouement of Part I will involve the *subjective* (Bayesian) turn in confirmation theory that happened after Goodman (in the 1960's), and which continues to be dominant today. Part II (the last 2 weeks) of the seminar will be concerned with some recent *applications* of confirmation theory to problems in *cognitive science*. Specifically, we will look at the Wason Selection Task and the Conjunction Fallacy from the point of view of confirmation theory (broadly construed).

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**Readings**

All readings for the course will be posted on the course website — specifically, right here on this syllabus page (see below). There will be both required and optional (further) readings each week. There are also some overviews and surveys included on the Notes, Handouts & Links page. I recommend reading the required readings very carefully, and then moving on to the further readings (which may typically be read a little less closely) as your schedule permits.

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**Requirements
**The only requirement for this seminar will be a single 15-page term paper, which will be due at the end of the semester.

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**Website**

Current course information can be found on the course web site, at:

http://fitelson.org/confirmation/

The home page of our website is reserved mainly for announcements. The purpose of the other pages on our website should be self–explanatory. You should keep an eye on the course website, as it will be updated regularly with various content and announcements pertaining to the course. The only two computer applications you will need to view/print, *etc*. the content on our website are: (*i*) your favorite web browser, and (*ii*) Adobe Reader (preferably, the latest version).

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**Tentative Schedule ** (

Note: there will be no seminar meetings on October 3 or November 14.

**Week 1 (8/29): Overview of The Course + Some Technical Background**

- Required Reading
- Further Reading
- Eells, Appendix 2 of
*Probabilistic Causality*[nice "crash course" on probability calculus] - Chapter 6 of Brian Skyrms's
*Choice and Chance: An Introduction to Inductive Logic* - Chapter 6 of Ian Hacking's
*Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic* - Fitelson, A Decision Procedure for Probability Calculus with Applications
- Fitelson, Alexander, and Blum, PrSAT: A Decision Procedure for Probability Calculus
- Fitelson, Course Notes for Philosophy 148 (first few weeks)
- Earman and Salmon, The Confirmation of Scientific Hypotheses, from
*Introduction to the Philosophy of Science*

- Eells, Appendix 2 of

**Week 2 (9/5): Pre-History — Setting the Stage for Modern ("Inductive") Readings of Hume**

- Required Reading
- Milton, Induction Before Hume
- Hacking, Chapters 15 and 19 of
*The Emergence of Probability* - Further Reading

**Week 3 (9/12): History — Modern ("Inductive") Readings of Hume**

- Required Reading
- Further Reading
- Hume, Sections IV–VII of
*An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding* - Hume, Book I, Part III of
*A Treatise of Human Nature* - Loeb, Psychology, Epistemology, and Skepticism in Hume's Argument about Induction
- Millican, Hume, Induction, and Probability
- The following is a more "old-fashioned" reading of Hume, which focuses less on induction (and more on causation):

- Hume, Sections IV–VII of

- Required Reading
- Keynes, Chapters 18–20, Chapters 22&23, and Notes on Part III (Terminology), from
*A Treatise on Probability* - Further Reading

- Required Reading
- Further Reading

- Required Reading
- Further Reading

- Required Reading
- Hempel, Studies in the Logic of Confirmation II
- Hempel, A Purely Syntactical Definition of Confirmation
- Further Reading
- Fitelson, The Paradox of Confirmation
- Earman, Sections on H–D Confirmation, Bayesian Confirmation, and the Ravens Paradox, in
*Bayes or Bust*, MIT Press, 1992. - Hempel and Oppenheim, A Definition of "Degree of Confirmation"
- Macfarlane, Chapters 3 and 7 of
*What Does it Mean to Say that Logic is Formal* - Fitelson, Goodman's `New Riddle'

- Required Reading
- Carnap, Chapter 1 of
*Logical Foundations of Probability*(2ed) - Strawson, Carnap's Views on Constructed Systems Versus Natural Languages in Analytic Philosophy, from
*The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap* - Carnap, P. F. Strawson on Linguistic Naturalism, from
*The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap* - Maher, Explication Defended
- Further Reading
- Maher, Probability Captures the Logic of Scientific Confirmation, from
*Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science* - Maher, The Concept of Inductive Probability
- Boniolo, Kant's Explication and Carnap's Explication: the redde rationem
- Eagle, Twenty-one arguments against propensity analyses of probability
- Tillman, Explication and Ordinary Language Analysis

- Maher, Probability Captures the Logic of Scientific Confirmation, from

- Required Reading
- Carnap, preface, sections 11–12, sections 43–45, and sections 87–88, from
*Logical Foundations of Probability*(2ed) - Popper, Degree of Confirmation
- Here is the (sometimes ugly) aftermath of Popper's paper. This has been called "
*The Popper-Carnap Controversy*":- Bar-Hillel, Comments on `Degree of Confirmation' by Professor K. R. Popper
- Popper, `Content' and `Degree of Confirmation': A Reply to Dr. Bar-Hillel
- Carnap, Remarks on Popper's Note on Content and Degree of Confirmation
- Popper, Reply to Professor Carnap
- Bar-Hillel, Further Comments on Probability and Confirmation: A Rejoinder to Professor Popper

- Here is the (sometimes ugly) aftermath of Popper's paper. This has been called "
- Further Reading
- Salmon, Confirmation and Relevance
- Fitelson, Inductive Logic
- Kemeny and Oppenheim, Degree of Factual Support
- Macfarlane, Chapters 3 and 7 of
*What Does it Mean to Say that Logic is Formal* - Kyburg, Chapters 5 and 13 of
*Probability and Inductive Logic* - Maher, Probability Captures the Logic of Scientific Confirmation, from
*Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science* - Maher, The Concept of Inductive Probability
- Maher, Probabilities for Multiple Properties
- Fine, Logical (Conditional) Probability
- Carnap, On Inductive Logic
- Michalos,
*The Popper-Carnap Controversy*

- Required Reading
- Further Reading

- Required Reading
- Further Reading
- Harman, Chapters 1 and 2 of
*Change in View* - Macfarlane, Chapters 3 and 7 of
*What Does it Mean to Say that Logic is Formal* - Stove, The Myth of Formal Logic from
*The Rationality of Induction* - Carnap, sections 11–12 and sections 43–45 of
*Logical Foundations of Probability*(2ed) - Carnap
**,**On the Application of Inductive Logic - Maher, Probability Captures the Logic of Scientific Confirmation, from
*Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science* - Sober, No Model, No Inference: A Bayesian Primer on the Grue Problem
- Quine, Natural Kinds
- Skyrms, Chapter 4 of
*Choice and Chance: An Introduction to Inductive Logic*

- Harman, Chapters 1 and 2 of

**Week 12 (11/28): Confirmation Theory and The Conjunction Fallacy**

- Required Reading
- Tversky and Kahneman, Extensional Versus Intuitive Reasoning: The Conjunction Fallacy in Probability Judgment
- Crupi, Fitelson and Tentori, Probability, Confirmation and the `Conjunction Fallacy'
- Further Reading
- Sides, Osherson, Bonini, and Viale, On the Reality of the Conjunction Fallacy
- Tentori, Bonini, and Osherson, The conjunction fallacy: a misunderstanding about conjunction? and A Different Conjunction Fallacy
- Crupi, Tentori, Gonzalez, On Bayesian Measures of Evidential Support: Theoretical and Empirical Issues
- Tentori, Crupi, Bonini, and Osherson, Comparison of Confirmation Measures
- Eells and Fitelson, Symmetries and Asymmetries in Evidential Support
- Hertwig and Chase, Many Reasons or Just One: How Response Mode Affects Reasoning in the Conjunction Problem
- Levi, Jaakko Hintikka
- Cohen, Can Human Irrationality Be Experimentally Demonstrated?, in
*Reasoning: Studies of Human Inference and its Foundations* - Lagnado and Shanks, Probability judgment in hierarchical learning: a conflict between predictiveness and coherence
- Crupi, Tentori, Russo, On the Determinants of the Conjunction Fallacy: Probability Versus Inductive Confirmation

**Week 13 (12/5): Confirmation Theory and The Wason Selection Task **

- Required Reading
- Wason and Shapiro, Natural and contrived experience in a reasoning problem
- Humberstone, Hempel Meets Wason
- Nickerson, Hempel's paradox and Wason's selection task: Logical and psychological puzzles of confirmation
- Fitelson & Hawthorne, The Wason Task(s) and the Paradox of Confirmation
- Further Reading
- Cohen, Can Human Irrationality Be Experimentally Demonstrated?, in
*Reasoning: Studies of Human Inference and its Foundations* - Oaksford and Chater, A Rational Analysis of the Selection Task as Optimal Data Selection
- Oaksford and Chater, Rational Explanation of the Selection Task
- Mckenzie and Mikkelsen, The Psychological Side of Hempel's Paradox of Confirmation

- Cohen, Can Human Irrationality Be Experimentally Demonstrated?, in

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