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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL2402 Topics in Epistemology: Theory and Evidence

20 creditsClass Size: 88

Module manager: Dr Ed Elliott

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

Either PHIL 1250; or PHIL 1109; or PHIL 1111 and PHIL 1222.

This module is mutually exclusive with

HPSC2402Phil of Inductive Reasoning
HPSC2403Intro Phil Inductive Reasoning

Module replaces

HPSC2402: Philosophy of Inductive Reasoning

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module concerns a central topic in epistemology that also has significant practical importance: theories should be supported by evidence. But what is evidence, exactly, and how does it relate to the theory it’s supposed to support?Here are examples of the types of questions and issues tackled in this module:How does a set of observations confirm one hypothesis over another? What is philosophically problematic about inductive reasoning in everyday life or in science? How should we understand probabilistic and statistical reasoning fromevidence? How should we understand the notion of probability? Is there a one-size‐fits‐all answer to the question of how theories and evidence are related? How are facts about what causes what, and what explains what, relevant to assessing evidence given in support of a theory?This module will not presuppose any technical or scientific background. It is suitable for anyone with an interest in how science expands our knowledge of the world.


On completion of this module, students should be able to critically discuss a
variety of issues concerning the relationship between a theory and its evidence.
Possible topics include:
1) inductive and causal argument;
2) confirmation theory and problems of induction;
3) the nature of probability and statistical reasoning;
4) the nature of causal reasoning and the role of explanation in inductive

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 its role in reasoning, the nature of confirmation and evidence.


The module will cover a selection of issues central to epistemology and the philosophy of science, drawn from topics such as the following:
a) Different kinds of inductive arguments and inductive fallacies; causal reasoning and Mill's methods
b) Hume's problem of induction and various responses to it; Goodman's new problem of induction and various responses to it
c) Probabilistic reasoning and interpretation of probability; elementary decision theory; fallacies in probabilistic and statistical reasoning; Bayesianism
d) Confirmation theory and paradoxes of confirmation; Hypothetico‐deductive view and its problems; Duhem‐Quine problem; Inference to the best explanation

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours181.00
Total Contact hours19.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study comprises:
6 hours reading per lecture: 66 hours;
6 hours reading and preparing for tutorials: 48 hours;
Writing entries to an assessed group Wiki: 30 hours;
Exam revision: 30 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback through the wiki assessment or the mid-semester essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,500 word essay50.00
Essay1,500 word essay50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 02/01/2019


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