Confirmation Theory and the Scientific Method
Advanced Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (PHIL-GA 1104)
5 Washington Place Room 202 (2nd floor)
Tuesday 12–2 PM
What makes science different from, and more successful at producing knowledge than, other forms of inquiry—such as philosophy? The traditional answer: science has a special
method. We will look at some theories about the nature of this method, theories that turn on variously logical, semantic, and sociological aspects of the epistemological institution that is modern science (reading some of the positivists, Popper, Kuhn, some sociology of science). We then pick up the logical strand and go deeper, examining several theories of the way that evidence bears on scientific hypotheses—several
theories of confirmation—culminating in the Bayesian theory of confirmation (reading Hempel, Glymour, and my own notes on Bayesianism). Throughout we continue to emphasize the question of science’s unprecedented success. At the end of the semester we will spend a class or two on my own explanation of that success.