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Instructors: Matthew Kotzen and Jim Pryor. This course meets W 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. in CW 213.

For philosophy grads, this course counts towards the “Logic and Philosophy of Science” distribution requirement.  Students who aren’t philosophy grads should discuss their preparation with the instructors and need their permission to enroll.

Description: This seminar will survey mathematical tools, basic results, and some major philosophical issues in formal epistemology. The main frameworks we’ll discuss are: (a) modal representations of belief and knowledge, in the tradition of von Wright and Hintikka; (b) models of belief in terms of evolving sets of sentences/propositions, the most prominent of these being the AGM model; and (c) Bayesian models of confidence. Throughout, we’ll discuss promising applications and challenges for these frameworks. We’ll also consider some questions at the interface of formal and informal epistemology, such as what is the relation between degrees of confidence and all-or-nothing attitudes like belief and agnosticism, when and why it’s helpful to represent beliefs as deductively closed and always consistent; and what it means for something to be evidence for a hypothesis. Time permitting, we may also discuss: classical statistics and its relation to Bayesianism; Lewis’s triviality result about “conditional propositions”; extensions of Bayesianism to allow defeasible updating, or imprecise probabilities, or infinitesimal probabilities.


PHIL graduate students: Please refer to #9 in our Handbook for further information regarding distribution requirements.