Phil 148

Philosophy of Probability and Induction


Spring 2003

Professor Paolo Mancosu

Office: 233 Moses Hall

Phone: 642-5033


Class meets:

Office hours:

Course Description

The course is an introduction to the area of inductive logic and related topics. It is divided into three parts. The first part discusses some basic forms of deductive and inductive inferences and introduces the mathematical calculus of probability. The second part of the course is devoted to a) the problem of the justification of induction and b) the analysis of the notion of confirmation. This part will include discussion of Hume’s position on induction and of Goodman’s paradox. In the third part of the course we will discuss the major foundational views in probability, that is the classical, frequentist, logical, and subjectivist theories.

Prerequisites: Phil 12A (or equivalent) [no exceptions!] and at least another course in philosophy


Week 1: Introduction; Inductive and deductive Logic (ch. 1)

Week 2: Some basic forms of inductive inference, (ch.2)

Week 3: Causal inference, (ch.2)

Week 4: Probability, (ch.3)

Week 5: Probability, (ch.3)

Week 6: The justification of induction, (ch. 5)

Week 7: The justification of induction (ch. 5)

Week 8: Confirmation and its problems, (ch. 6)

Week 9: Confirmation and its problems (ch. 6)

Week 10: Probability and expected value, (ch. 4)

Week 11: Probability and expected value (ch. 4)

Week 12: Theories of probability, (ch. 7)

Week 13: Theories of probability (ch. 7)

Week 14: Theories of probability (ch. 7)

Week 15: Review


W. Gustason, Reasoning from Evidence, Macmillan, 1994. The book is out of print but it is available as a packet of readings at Copy Central on Bancroft.

There will be another packet of readings, available later in the semester, on the justification of induction, confirmation, and conceptions of probability (Hume, Goodman, Black, Ramsey, von Mises, Keynes etc.)

Updated on 2006-07-26 09:29:16 -0700 by Paolo Mancosu