HPS 1702 Junior/Senior Seminar for HPS Majors
HPS 1703 Writing Workshop for HPS Majors

Spring term 2005
Readings and Short Assignments on Them

Policy on Late Submission of Short Assignments on Readings. The purpose of these short assignments is to encourage you to read the preparatory material prior to the relevant seminar. They ask fairly simple questions so that a student postponing submission of the assignments until after the seminar makes the assignment trivial. For both reasons, no late assignments will be accepted. In order to accommodate missed classes due to illness and other unforeseen circumstances, the grade for these assignments will be determined after ignoring the two lowest grades.

Note that when readings are assigned below, you are often asked to read only one or two sections of a longer work. Keep an eye on this restriction and save yourself unnecessary reading!

Handouts: Evidence for the basic principles of science, Notes for "A Little Survey of Induction"
Reading: A Little Survey of Induction. See sections 1-6 for a more elaborate account of what is discussed in the seminar.

Read sections 1.1-1.5 of the handout, "A Survey of Induction: Inductive Generalization."

For submission:
1. What is enumerative induction?
2. What is its principal weakness?
3. How do Mill's methods extend it?

Something to ponder--not for submission:
Why should inductive generalization work?

Read sections 1.6-1.9 of the handout, "A Survey of Induction: Inductive Generalization."

For submission:
1. How does Hempel's satisfaction criterion extend the archetype of inductive generalization found in enumerative induction?
2. What is its principal weakness?
3. How does Glymour's "bootstrap" extend Hempel's satisfaction criterion?
4. In what sense of "inductive" are demonstrative inductions inductive?

Something to ponder--not for submission:
Can you think of an example of an important inductive inference in science that does not conform to any of the schemes that lie within the family of inductive generalization?

Readings: "Hypothetical_Induction.doc" Sections 1-6 only. This reading will refer you to further readings on the web and in the zip archive HI_readings.zip

For submission:
1. What is meant by "saving the phenomena?"
2. What is the principal problem facing hypothetical induction?
3. How is the problem evaded in the cases of controlled studies, the appeal to simplicity, "common cause" arguments and the consilience of induction?

Something to ponder--not for submission:
Why should true deductive consequences be a mark of truth for an hypothesis?

Readings: "Hypothetical Induction.doc" Section 7-8. This reading will refer you to further readings on the web and in the zip archive HI_readings.zip

For submission:
1. What is "inference to the best explanation?"
2. According to Popper, what place does inductive inference have in science?
3. How does Lakatos add to Popper's account?

Something to ponder--not for submission:
Reliabilists contend that the import of evidence must be evaluated within the context of the method of inquiry being used. Does this mean that two people who have the same evidence but use different methods ought to infer to different conclusions?

Readings: (For Bayes' theorem and its use in the context of confirmation)
Earman, J. and Salmon, W. "The Confirmation of Scientific Hypotheses," in M. Salmon et al. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science Hackett. Section 2.7, 2.9.
Howson, C. and Urbach, P. Scientific Reasoning:The Bayeisan Approach. 2nd ed. Chicago and La Salle, IL, Open Court. pp. 117-126.
(For the interpretations of probability.)
Earman, J. and Salmon, W. "The Confirmation of Scientific Hypotheses," in M. Salmon et al. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science Hackett. Section 2.8.
(I am assuming everyone owns a copy of the text Introduction to the Philosophy of Science since it is used widely as a text book in the department.)

For submission:
1. Write down the version of Bayes' theorem that expresses the relationship between the prior probability P(H) of some hypothesis H, the posterior probability P(H|E) of H conditioned on evidence E, the likelihood P(E|H) and the prior probability of the evidence P(E).
2. Use Bayes theorem to show that the hypothesis H is strongly confirmed if it can entail evidence E we deem very unlikely, but that it accrues no confirmation by being able to entail evidence we are already certain is true.

Something to ponder--not for submission:
The probability calculus was devised to describe the stochastic properties of random systems, initially those that arose in the context of gambling. Why should a calculus that governs these sorts of physical processes be the same one that governs the dynamics of uncertainty?
If we decide not to use the probability calculus as the calculus governing out beliefs, how do we decide which the right alternative of the infinitely many alternatives?

Readings: Howson, C. and Urbach, P. Scientific Reasoning:The Bayeisan Approach. 2nd ed. Chicago and La Salle, IL, Open Court. pp. 75-86.
Shafer, G. "Probability Judgments in Artificial Intelligence," pp. 127-135 in L. N. Kanal and J. F. Lemmer, eds., Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence. Elsevier, 1986.
Zadeh, L. "Is Probability Theory Sufficient for Dealing with Uncertainty in AI: A Negative View," pp. 103-116 in L. N. Kanal and J. F. Lemmer, eds., Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence. Elsevier, 1986.

For submission:
1. In the context of a Dutch book argument, if my probability for some outcome H is p, what bets on H or against H am I prepared to accept?
2. Pick either possibility theory or the Shafer-Dempster system. Indicate one way that the chosen system differs from the Bayesian system.

Something to ponder--not for submission:
Dutch book arguments show that someone who accepts bets according to their numerical degrees of belief by a particular rule must conform those beliefs to the probability calculus if they are to avoid a combinations of wagers that assures a loss. How does this result impinge on beliefs that are not translated into acceptance of wagers?

Earman, J. and Salmon, W. "The Confirmation of Scientific Hypotheses," in M. Salmon et al. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science Hackett. Section 2.5-2.6.
N. Goodman, "The New Riddle of Induction," Ch. III in Fact, Fiction and Forecast. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983.
Norton, J. D. "Must Evidence Underdetermine Theory?" Read Section 2.

For submission:
1. How do we establish that "affirming the consequent" is a bad form of deductive inference?
2. Give the definitions of "grue" and "bleen" in terms of "green" and "blue" as primitive terms. Give the definitions of "green" and "blue" in terms of "grue" and "bleen" as primitive terms.
3. How do the "local" and "global" forms of the underdetermination thesis differ?

Something to ponder--not for submission:
Some people see these sorts of problems as little more than philosophers' tricks to be solved like recreational puzzles; other see them as a manifestation of deep flaws in inductive inference. Where do your intuitions lead you?