Philosophy 148: Probability and Induction

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Branden Fitelson
Office: 132 Moses Hall
Hours: Tu/Th 2–3
Tel: 642–0666

Raul Saucedo
Office: 5323 Tolman
Office Hours: W 10–12
(or by appointment)

240 Mulford
103 Moffitt

Tu/Th 11–12:30

See our sections page.

TOC: [ Prerequisites ] [ Readings ] [ Requirements ] [ Sections ] [ Website ] [ Tentative Schedule ]

Philosophy 12A (or an equivalent introductory symbolic logic class), plus at least high-school algebra (pre-calculus). And, little or no math phobia.

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All readings for the course will be posted online, in the "Tentative Schedule" portion of this syllabus page, below. In other words, there are no books to buy for the course. All you will need is a good web browser and a recent copy of Adobe Reader (version 7 or later). All readings will be posted here in either HTML or Adobe PDF format. See the "Tentative Schedule" section for all details about the readings (and reading requirements) for the course.

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Students are expected to attend lecture and section regularly and to keep up with readings and exercises. This course will move rather quickly, and much of the material is likely to be new to you, so take care not to fall behind. Grades will be based on the following assignments and exams. See our Assignments & Exams Page for scheduling and content details.

You are encouraged to work in groups on the assignments. In fact, you will receive a small amount of extra-credit for working in groups (other extra-credit will be given throughout the semester on the homework assignments and exams). There are rules for working in groups. These rules, which must be followed carefully – on pain of risking plagiarism – can be found at:

Section participation will not be formally graded, but enthusiastic and well–informed participation will be taken into account in borderline cases. I strongly encourage you to be an active participant in sections.

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Sections, which will meet once per week for 50 minutes, will give you the opportunity to discuss the readings and lectures. Our GSI is Raul Saucedo; his contact information can be found on the course website. The section meeting locations, times, and rosters (when they are determined) will be posted on our sections page.

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Current course information (including section info., lecture notes, class handouts, assignments, announcements, interesting links, and any revisions to the schedule) can be found on the course web site, at:

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 site also contains many interesting links to philosophical information (and people). 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 (version 7 or later). We also have a bspace site for the course (only for keeping track of grades).

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Tentative Schedule (subject to change – so stay tuned)
All readings will be available below – either in HTML or Adobe PDF format. My lecture notes will be the central source of material for the course. So, be sure to read these carefully, as we go along. I am working on a textbook for this course, but it is not yet ready for prime time. So, in the meantime, we will use the materials that I have cobbled together. These are the most salient existing readings I could find. Nothing out there quite matches my perspective on the field (or the path I will be taking through the material). This makes attending lectures and sections that much more important.

The texts below are sometimes difficult, and will often require careful and repeated reading. My lecture notes will cover much or all of what you'll need. But, I recommend doing as much of the readings as you can. I do not expect you to do all the readings below (this website serves both as a course website, and as a repository of readings in probability and induction). The first reading(s) in each section is (are) the one(s) you should read first. If you have time, have a look at readings further down the list (often these are indented) for each of the topics we discuss in lecture. This schedule is subject to change, so stay tuned…

Unit 1: Deductive Logic (review) and Boolean Algebras

Unit 2: The Probability Caluclus

Unit 3: Theories (or Kinds) of Probability

Unit 4: Confirmation Theory — Four (Formal) Approaches

Unit 5: The Paradoxes of Confirmationf6e3c1f0da62660cb33935bec5c98586

Unit 6: More Problems from the Confrimation Theory Literature

Unit 7: Three Psychological Controversies Involving Probability and Confirmation

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