Logic, Formal Methods & Epistemology

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Time & Place

Branden Fitelson
Office: 132 Moses Hall
Hours: Tu/Th 4:15–5:15
Tel: 296–5891

102 Barrows
Tuesdays, 2–4pm

TOC: [Synopsis] [ Texts ] [ Requirements ] [ Website ] [ Tentative Schedule ]

In this seminar, we will cover various "hot topics" in contemporary epistemology. The main focus/theme of the seminar will be on the (epistemic) normative status of logic and formal methods (e.g., the epistemic-normative role of deductive logic, and similar questions for various "inductive logical" frameworks). Other topics will include the nature of evidence (e.g., is evidence factive and can there be "knowledge from falsehood"?), coherence requirements (e.g., is coherence a requirement of epistemic rationality?), and full vs partial belief as a foundation for epistemology (e.g., "probabilism" and other non-traditional frameworks for epistemology, as opposed to traditional "full belief" approaches). We will have various guest presenters throughout the term, including Joyce, Weisberg, Kotzen, Titelbaum, and our own MacFarlane, Roush, Kolodny, and Buchak.

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All texts for the course will be made available in electronic format on this page – either in HTML or Adobe PDF format. In order to read/print/search, etc. our PDF files (note: all the PDF files available here are fully searchable), you will need Adobe Reader 6 (or another reader that can read PDF version 6 files). I recommend that you download the latest version of Adobe Reader asap (it's free). See the tentative schedule, below, for all readings (both required and supplementary).

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Current course information 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 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 6 or later, or – if you prefer – another program that can read Acrobat PDF version 6 files).

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Tentative Schedule (subject to change – so stay tuned)

Week 0 (1/19): Syllabus, Overview, etc.

Week 1 (1/28, 4–6pm, Dennes Room): Guest Presenter: Jim Joyce. Topic: Inference and Decision Making With Imprecise Probabilities

Week 2 (2/2): Some Background on The Normativity of Deductive Logic

Week 3 (2/9):Guest Presenter: John MacFarlane. Topic: The Normativity of Deductive Logic

[Note: the seminar will not meet on February 16th.]

Week 4 (2/23): Guest Presenter: Justin Bledin. Topic: Is Formal Coherence a Myth?

Week 5 (3/2): Guest Presenter: Rebecca Millsop. Topic: The Nature of Normativity in Kant’s Philosophy of Logic

Week 6 (3/9): Knowledge From Falsehood

Week 8 (3/16): Guest Presenter: Mike Titelbaum. Topic: Bootstrapping, Externalism, and No-Lose Epistemology

Week 9 (3/30): Guest Presenter: Matt Kotzen. Topic: "Does Evidence Flow?"

Week 10 (4/6): Guest Presenter: Jonathan Weisberg. Topic: Belief, Partial and Full

Week 11 (4/13): Guest Presenter: Sherri Roush. Topic: The Re-Calibrating Bayesian

Week 12 (4/20): Guest Presenter: Lara Buchak. Topic: Is it Rational to Have Faith?

Week 13 (4/27): Guest Presenter: Niko Kolodny. Topic: On Reason and Rationality

Week 14 (5/4): Guest Presenter: Justin Bledin. Topic: Formal Coherence is a Myth

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