Time: Monday/Wednesday, 3:30-4:45 pm
Location: YMCA 401
Instructor: Kenny Easwaran
Office: YMCA Building 314, 979-847-6128
Office Hours: Monday/Wednesday, 4:45-5:45, or by appointment.
Over the past century, a great number of philosophers (and psychologists, economics, computer scientists, and others) have become interested in using mathematical tools to help understand the concepts of epistemology. In this class we will learn the basics of using some of these tools (focusing on probability and decision theory, though with some mention also of epistemic logic), and discuss both the history of their use and current topics related to them. This will include why formal epistemologists have focused on a notion of belief that comes in degrees, the way that these graded beliefs and desires play a role in governing action, and the contrasting roles of truth, evidence, and practical success in guiding belief.
Students should have taken a logic class before, and should have some comfort with high school algebra, but all other mathematical material will be covered in the class.
Each week we will be reading and discussing some primary texts from the relatively recent philosophical literature, and drafts of a manuscript that I am writing. One thing that will be particularly helpful to me is if you can let me know any comments, questions, unclarities, typos, etc. that you find in reading my manuscripts! Some issues will be things I can fix quickly, while others will spark important and interesting class discussions that may lead me to rewrite relevant sections.
For disability accommodations, please contact Disability Services so they can let me know what sorts of accommodations are appropriate.
Remember, an Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal, and does not tolerate those who do. For further information, see the Aggie Honor System Office.
Aug. 31, Sept. 2 - Belief comes in degrees
Sept. 7, 9 - Belief comes in degrees
Sept. 14, 16 - Belief guides action
Sept. 21, 23 - Belief guides action
David Christensen, (1996) "Dutch Book Arguments Depragmatized"
Lara Buchak, (2014) Risk and Rationality (esp. chapters 1, 2)
Sept. 28, 30 - Belief aims at the truth
Oct. 5, 7 - Belief aims at the truth
Oct. 12, 14 - Degrees are numerical
Oct. 19, 21, 26 - Degrees are numerical
The Leibniz/Clarke Correspondence (1715) - translation
Oct. 28 - Zero isn't nothing
(Nov. 2, 4 - I will be out of town)
Nov. 9, 11 - Belief over time
Bas van Fraassen, (1984) "Belief and the Will"