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2010/11 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC2403 Introduction to Philosophy of Inductive Reasoning

10 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Angelo Cei

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2010/11

Pre-requisite qualifications

HPSC1200 How Science Works, OR PHIL1001 Introduction to Philosophy, OR PHIL1004 Introduction to History of Philosophy, OR PHIL1008 Introduction to Logic.

This module is mutually exclusive with

HPSC2402Phil of Inductive Reasoning

Module replaces

HPSC2215 Introduction to Induction, Evidence and Scientific Method

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

In order to be eligible to enrol this module, students must have taken and passed ONE OR MORE of the following:HPSC1200 How Science WorksPHIL1001 Introduction to PhilosophyPHIL1004 Introduction to the History of PhilosophyPHIL1008 Introduction to LogicThis module concerns the relationship between a theory and its evidence. It covers various issues in the following central topics in the epistemology of science: observation and its relation to theory; old and new problems of induction; the nature of probability and statistical reasoning; scientific method.Theories and generalizations of empirical science are based on observations. This platitude gives rise to a wide range of philosophical questions such as: What exactly is an observation, and hoe does it relate to a theory? How does a set of observations confirm one hypothesis over another? What exactly is problematic about inductive reasoning in science? What is the nature of probabilistic and statistical reasoning from evidence? How is probability to be understood? Is there a universal "method of science" to compare theories with evidence? What role does causal and explanatory reasoning play in assessing evidence?These are some of the questions and issues we shall tackle in this module.


On completion of this module, students should be able to critically discuss a variety of issues concerning the relationship between a scientific theory and its evidence. The main topics include:
1) observation and its relation to theory;
2) old and new problems of induction;
3) the nature of probability and statistical reasoning;
4) scientific method.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module a student will have knowledge of a range of philosophical issues concerning the relationship between theories and observations, induction, probability and statistical reasoning, the nature of scientific method and confirmation.


The module will cover issues such as the following:

A) The nature of observation and observability; Theory-ladenness of observation; Data vs. Phenomena; Syntactic vs. semantic view of theories.

B) Hume's problem of induction and various responses to it; Goodman's new problem of induction and various responses to it.

C) Interpreting probabilities; Classical statistical inference; Fallacies in probabilistic and statistical reasoning; Bayesianism; Probability and induction.

D) Causal reasoning and Mill's methods; Hypothetico-deductive view and its problems: Ravens, Duhem-Quine problem, etc.; Inference to the best explanation.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours80.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Private study comprises:
2.5 hours reading per lecture: 40 hours;
2 hours reading and preparing for tutorials: 8 hours;
Writing entries to an assessed group Wiki: 32 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored via selected Wiki entries: students write 550-650 word entries on each four sections of the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Computer Exercise2,200-2,600 word VLE Wiki100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resit by 100% exam (2 hours).

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 06/05/2011


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