HFIK03724U FILO, Module 3: Classical Philosophical Problem: Confirmation and Hypothesis Testing

Årgang 2015/2016
Engelsk titel

FILO, Module 3: Classical Philosophical Problem: Confirmation and Hypothesis Testing


Master in Philosophy


“What connection between an observation and a theory makes that observation evidence for the theory? In some ways, this has been the fundamental problem in the last hundred years of philosophy of science” (Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Reality, Chicago 2003). The aim of this course is to understand the fundamental problem of how scientific data can confirm or disconfirm a scientific theory. In the first half of the course, I will introduce and discuss some of the dominant theories of confirmation, such as the ‘deductive-nomological theory’, Popper’s ‘falsificationism’, and the more recent ‘Bayesian’ confirmation theory. We will be looking into a number of central problems, such as the ‘problem of induction’, ‘the ravens problem’ and Goodman’s ‘new riddle of induction’. In the second half of the course, we will apply the philosophical confirmation theories to contemporary discussions in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Confirmation theory can help us understand the contemporary debates on how neural and behavioural data can serve as evidence for a psychological model. We will read philosophical works by, among others, Hempel, Goodman, Popper, Woodward, Earman, Sober, and Machery, as well as scientific texts by cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists.


The Master’s Programme in Philosophy 2014:
Module 3, Classical Philosophical Problem: HFIK03721E
Module 5, Freely chosen topic 1: HFIK03741E
Module 5, Freely chosen topic 2: HFIK03751E

The Master’s Programme in Philosophy 2008:
Module 2, Freely chosen topic A: HFIK03521E
Module 4, Freely chosen topic B: HFIK03541E
Module 5, Freely chosen topic C: HFIK03551E
Module 6, Freely chosen topic D: HFIK03561E
Module 7, Freely chosen topic E: HFIK03571E

The course will be taught as a mixture between lectures, group work, and class discussion. I will teach this seminar as an advanced graduate seminar in philosophy and cognition. This does not mean that any prior knowledge of philosophy of language or cognitive science is needed. It means, however, that in order to participate in the weekly seminars, you must do three things every week:

1. Read the assigned texts. Some of the papers may be difficult and could require more than one reading.

2. Write a 1-2 page discussion paper for each class (though not for the first class). The discussion paper has to be about an argument or problem in the assigned texts. The discussion paper is a way of working with the assigned text, deepening your understanding of the problems and arguments it presents. The discussion paper is your entrance ticket to the class. If you have not written one, then don’t bother to show up.

3. Engage in discussion activities during classes. This is a graduate seminar. We will work with the text and the problems together!
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The exam will be conducted in English

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