notes_1 - Notes for Week 1 of Confirmation Branden Fitelson...

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Notes for Week 1 of Confirmation 08/29/07 Branden Fitelson 1 Administrative Stuff At the outset, I should say something about enrollment . Oringinally, I was planning to teach only one course on induction and probability this year (this one). As a result, I encouraged undergraduates to enroll in the seminar. Since then, I have decided to teach an undergraduate course next term on probability and induction (PHIL 148). That course will be more geared to undergraduates. As such, I want to encourage (most) undergraduates here to attend that class instead of this one. We can still accommodate a few (diehard) undergrads in the seminar (but far fewer than are enrolled, I’m afraid). Basically, I think this course will work best as a small-ish, graduate seminar. I apologize to (most) undergrads here for any inconvenience. I will collect index cards from undergrads today, and decide who to admit before next week. The course website contains everything you need to know (and more) about this seminar. For instance, my seminar notes (including these) will be posted there prior to each meeting. Moreover, the syllabus page for the course (an early snapshot of which which I’m distributing today as a handout) explains the basic structure and content of the course. It also includes all the readings for the course (required and optional), as well as some useful overviews of the (philosophical) material we’ll be discussing. I’ll spend a few minutes today going over the syllabus. But, keep in mind that the schedule of readings (and my notes) will be updated as we go along. Thus, it is important to stay tuned to the course website as the semester unfolds. 2 A Broad Overview of the Plan for the Seminar As the syllabus indicates, the course has two main parts: Part I : Logical & epistemological aspects of confirmation theory (mainly) between 1920 and 1960 . This will be the main focus of the seminar. It will actually begin with two weeks of “Pre-History”. In week 1, we will read a nice article by Milton called “Induction Before Hume”, which traces some of the historical developments leading up to to Hume’s Treatise (and Enquiry ). Milton’s piece is most useful (for us) because it sets the stage for what I will call “Keynesian” readings of Hume (which take Hume to be concerned mainly with induction — as opposed to causation — in his infamous skeptical and positive writings). After Milton, we will read Keynes and Stroud — two eloquent “Keynesian” readers of Hume. Once we’ve got the “Humean” background in place, we’ll move on to reading various subsequent philosophers of inductive logic (and inductive inference), including Nicod, Hosiasson– Lindenbaum, Hempel, Carnap, and Goodman (among others). After Goodman, confirmation theory took a decidedly subjective turn. We will spend one week (after the “Hume Goodman trajectory”) discussing subjective Bayesian confirmation theory (and its discontents). The main issues I want to bring out in Part I involve the relationship between inductive logic and inductive epistemology . I’ll say a
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