Bayesianism in Philosophy of Science
Some philosophers of science have argued that by focusing on probabilistic notions like degree of belief, we can give a good account of the notions of scientific evidence and confirmation, thus giving us a handle on parts of the problem of induction. Defenders, called Bayesians, say this account can additionally help us understand the importance of having evidence from a variety of sources, theories that provide a good explanation of the evidence, and various other features of scientific reasoning. Opponents raise several important problems for Bayesianism, including the problem of the priors, the problem of old evidence, and the problem of new theories.
This seminar will begin with an overview of the probability theory that will be needed for the rest of the class, and then continue with some arguments in favor of Bayesianism and Bayesian accounts of some traditional problems of confirmation. Depending on student interest, we may continue with extended discussion of one or two critics of Bayesianism, or shorter discussion of several distinct criticisms.
Aug. 26, Introduction
No required reading, but we will go over the basics of probability theory in class, and some basic discussion of the interpretation of probability.
Alan Hájek, "Interpretations of Probability", in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Arguments for Bayesianism
Sep. 2, Dutch Book Arguments
Paul Teller, "Conditionalization and Observation"
David Christensen, "Clever Bookies and Coherent Beliefs"
Alan Hajek, "Scotching Dutch Books"
Sep. 9, Representation Theorems
Frank Ramsey, "Truth and Probability"
You might look up the following books and find the relevant chapters for more modern presentations of versions of this argument
L.J. Savage, The Foundations of Statistics (1972)
Richard Jeffrey, The Logic of Decision (1990)
James Joyce, The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory (1999)
Sep. 16, Accuracy Domination
James Joyce, "A Nonpragmatic Vindication of Probabilism"
Hannes Leitgeb and Richard Pettigrew, "An Objective Justification of Bayesianism I: Measuring Inaccuracy", "An Objective Justification of Bayesianism II: The Consequences of Minimizing Inaccuracy"
David Lindley, "Scoring Rules and the Inevitability of Probability"
Sep. 23, Cox's Theorem
Richard Cox, "Probability, Frequency, and Reasonable Expectation"
Mark Colyvan, "The Philosophical Significance of Cox's Theorem"
Bayesian accounts of science and confirmation
Sep. 30, Successes of Bayesianism
Colin Howson and Peter Urbach, Scientific Reasoning: the Bayesian Approach, Chapter 4
Tuesday, Oct. 5, Grue (NOTE CHANGE IN DATE!)
Branden Fitelson, "Goodman's 'New Riddle' "
Nelson Goodman, "The New Riddle of Induction"
Problems for Bayesianism
Oct. 14, Outline of problems
Clark Glymour, "Why I am not a Bayesian"
Tuesday, Oct. 19, Old Evidence and Logical Omniscience (NOTE CHANGE IN DATE!)
Ian Hacking, "Slightly More Realistic Personal Probabilities"
Richard Jeffrey, "Bayesianism with a Human Face"
Oct. 28, Old Evidence
Ellery Eells, "Problems of Old Evidence" (reprinted as "Bayesian Problems of Old Evidence")
Nov. 4, Measuring Confirmation
David Christensen, "Measuring Confirmation"
Ellery Eells and Branden Fitelson, "Measuring Confirmation and Evidence"
Nov. 11, New Theories
Charles Chihara, "Some Problems for Bayesian Confirmation Theory"
Patrick Maher, "Probabilities for New Theories"
John Earman, Bayes or Bust?, Chs. 5 and 8
Nov. 18, Statistical Methodology
Ian Hacking, "The Foundations of Statistics"
Nov. 25, Thanksgiving
Dec. 2, Bayesianism and the Law
Michael Finkelstein and William Fairley, "A Bayesian Approach to Identification Evidence"
FINAL PAPER DUE DEC. 14