HPS 2682
Phil 2690
Theories of Confirmation Spring 2017

Topics and Readings

Back to course document list.

This list contains far more material than we can cover in one term. When we have decided which topics we will cover, I will select more readings as needed. They will appear in the Schedule. The particular papers listed below are preliminary selections and will be adjusted when we have selected the topics to be studied.

This list was assembled prior to the seminar as a prompt to help us find readings. It is superseded by the schedule page, which has the readings actually studied.

Introductory topics

John D. Norton, " A Little Survey of Induction," in P. Achinstein, ed., Scientific Evidence: Philosophical Theories and Applications. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1905. pp. 9-34.

Warm Up Case Studies

Evidence in the legal and criminal context

Report to the President: Forensic Science in the Criminal Courts: Ensuring Feature-Comparison Methods.

Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition. Federal Judicial Center

Evidence for Climate Change

Climate change: How do we know? NASA Website

Cook et al. "Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming" Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 4

Climate Change, Evidence & Causes: An overview from the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences

IPCC 2014 Technical Summary Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Principal Accounts of Induction

Inductive Generalization

Enumerative Induction
Hempel's Satisfaction Criterion
Mill's Methods
Glymour's Bootstrap
Demonstrative Induction (Newtonian Deduction from the phenomena)

John D. Norton, "A Survey of Inductive Generalization."

Hypothetical Induction

Exclusionary accounts. Error statistical methods.

Deborah G. Mayo, "Evidence as Passing Severe Tests: Highly Probable versus Highly Probed Hypotheses," in, P. Achinstein, ed., Scientific Evidence: Philosophical Theories and Applications. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005, pp. 94-127.

Abduction: Inference to the best explanation

Gilbert Harman, “The Inference to the Best Explanation” Phil Review 74 (1965): 88-95.

Paul Thagard, “The Best Explanation: Criteria for Theory Choice” J Phil 75 (1978): 76-92.

Inference to a common cause

Michel Janssen, "COI Stories: Explanation and Evidence in the History of Science." Perspectives on Science, 10(2002): 457-522.

Simplicity and the Akaike criterion

Malcolm Forster and Elliott Sober, "How to Tell when Simpler, More Unified, or Less Ad Hoc Theories will Provide More Accurate Predictions," British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 45 (1994), pp. 1-35.


Probabilistic Induction

A Bayes' Primer

Stephan Hartmann & Jan Sprenger, "Bayesian Epistemology." In Duncan Pritchard & Sven Bernecker (eds.), Routledge Companion to Epistemology. Routledge.

Richard Jeffrey, Subjective Probability: The Real Thing. Ch. 1.

John D. Norton, "Probability Disassembled," British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 58 (2007), pp. 141-171.

Bayesian Success Stories

Dorling on the Duhem Problem in Ch. 2 Testing Scientific Theories, Richard Jeffrey, Subjective Probability: The Real Thing.

Jonah N. Schupbach and Jan Sprenger, "The Logic of Explanatory Power," Philosophy of Science, 78, No. 1 (January 2011), pp. 105-127.

Wayne Myrvold, “A Bayesian Account of the Virtue of Unification,” Philosophy of Science 70 (April 2003), pp. 399–423.
Clark Glymour, "Probability and the Explanatory Virtues," Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 2014.
Wayne Myrvold, "On the Evidential Import of Unification," Philosophy of Science, 84 (2017), pp. 92-114.

Subjective versus Objective Bayesianism

Colin Howson, "Theories of Probability" British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 1-32.

Material Theory of Induction

The Theory Introduced

1. The Material Theory of Induction Stated and Illustrated.
2. What Powers Induction Inference?
From John D. Norton,The Material Theory of Induction (draft)

Case Studies of Applications

3. Replicability of Experiment.

4. Analogy.

6. Simplicity as a Surrogate.
7. Simplicity in Model Selection.

8. Inference to the Best Explanation.

From John D. Norton,The Material Theory of Induction (draft)

Bayesian Topics

Arguments for Bayesianism

Savage's decision theoretic justification of Bayesianism

L. J. Savage, Foundations of Statistics. Ch 1-3.

Scoring Rule Justifications of Bayesianism

James Joyce, "A Nonpragmatic Vindication of Probabilism," Philosophy of Science, Vol. 65, No. 4 (Dec., 1998), pp. 575-603

Function Theoretic Representation Theorems


Greg Gandenberger, “Why I Am Not a Likelihoodist.” Philosophers’ Imprint 16, 7 (2016): 1-22

Measures of Support

Brandon Fitelson "The Plurality of Bayesian Measures of Confirmation and the Problem of Measure Sensitivity," Philosophy of Science. 66 (1999), pp. 362-378.

Imprecise Probabilities

Representations of Ignorance/Completely Neutral Support

"Ignorance and Indifference." Philosophy of Science, 75 (2008), pp. 45-68.
"Cosmic Confusions: Not Supporting versus Supporting Not-". Philosophy of Science. 77 (2010), pp. 501-23.

Yann Benetreau-Dupin, "The Bayesian Who Knew Too Much" Synthese 192, no. 5 (2015), pp. 1527–1542.

Imprecise Probabilities

Seamus Bradley, Imprecise Probabilities. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Glenn Shafer, A Mathematical Theory of Evidence, Ch. 1 "Introduction."
Glenn Shafer, "Probability Judgments in Artificial Intelligence," pp. 127-34 in L. N. Kanal and J. F. Lemmer eds, Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence. Elsevier Science, 1986.

Isaac Levi's "On Indeterminate Probabilities," Journal of Philosophy (1974)
James Joyce's "A Defense of Imprecise Credences in Inference and Decision Making" Philosophical Perspectives (2010)
Joseph Halpern's, Reasoning About Uncertainty (2003)

Lee Elkin, "The Many Faces of Confirmation in Imprecise Probability Theory." Manuscript.


Roger White "Evidential Symmetry and Mushy Credence," (2010)
Seamus Bradley and Katie Steele "Uncertainty, Learning, and the “Problem” of Dilation" Erkenntnis (2014)

Gotcha's in Probability

The exchange paradox

John D. Norton, "When the Sum of Our Expectations Fails Us: The Exchange Paradox." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 78 (1998), pp.34-58.

The doomsday argument, Sleeping beauty (and self locating beliefs)

Yann Benetreau-Dupin, "Blurring Out Cosmic Puzzles," Philosophy of Science 82, no. 5 (2015): 879–891.

Elga, Adam (2000): "Self-locating belief and the Sleeping Beauty problem"
Michael Titelbaum, "The Relevance of Self-Locating Beliefs"
Ofra Magidor, "The Myth of the De Se" Philosophical Perspectives, 29 (2015)

Case Studies in Evidence

Newton's argument for Universal Gravitation

Phlogiston versus Oxygen

Evolutionary Theory

Elliott Sober, Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science. Cambridge UP, 2008.

Quantum Discontinuity

John D. Norton, "The Determination of Theory by Evidence: The Case for Quantum Discontinuity 1900-1915," Synthese, 97 (1993), 1-31.

The Electron

John D. Norton, "How We Know About Electrons," pp. 67- 97 in R. Nola and H. Sankey, eds., After Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend; Recent Issues in Theories of Scientific Method. Dordrecht Kluwer.

Evidence for Climate Change

Your Suggestions:_________________________

Complaints about Bayesianism

John D. Norton, “Challenges to Bayesian Confirmation Theory,” Prepared for Prasanta S. Bandyopadhyay and Malcolm Forster (eds.), Philosophy of Statistics: Vol. 7 Handbook of the Philosophy of Science. Elsevier.

Troublesome Cases

11. Infinite Lottery Machines
12. Indeterministic Physical Systems.
13. Nonmeasurable Outcomes.

From John D. Norton,The Material Theory of Induction (draft)

Incompleteness of Calculi of Inductive Inference

John D. Norton, "A Demonstration of the Incompleteness of Calculi of Inductive Inference," Manuscript.
"The Ideal of the Completeness of Calculi of Inductive Inference: An Introductory Guide to its Failure," Manuscript.

Problems of Induction

The Problem of Induction (Hume's Problem)


John D. Norton, "The Formal Equivalence of Grue and Green and How It Undoes the New Riddle of Induction." Synthese, (2006) 150: 185-207.


Stathis Psillos, ‘Underdetermination’, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd Edition, Gale MacMillan Reference, 2005
Larry Laudan and Jarrett Leplin, "Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination," Journal of Philosophy, 88 (1991), pp. 449-72.

Hempel's Raven

Observationally Indistinguishable Spacetimes

John D. Norton, "Observationally Indistinguishable Spacetimes: A Challenge for Any Inductivist." In G. Morgan, ed., Philosophy of Science Matters: The Philosophy of Peter Achinstein. Oxford University Press.

More Topics

Ranking theory

Wolfgang Spohn (2009). A Survey of Ranking Theory. In Franz Huber & Christoph Schmidt-Petri (eds.), Degrees of Belief. Springer.

The Problem of Old Evidence

Clark Glymour. Theory and Evidence, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. Ch. 3. Why I am not a Bayesian.

James Joyce, The Probative Value of Old Evidence