History and Philosophy Of Science | Scientific Reasoning
X200 | 7444 | Melinda Fagan


Science is by and large a collection of methods we use to learn
about the world. An explosion of knowledge, wealth, and other
benefits to humanity over just the past several centuries attests to
he success of those methods; yet the question remains: why do these
methods work so well? Consider that among the most important tools
of science
are methods for effective reasoning, including standardsof logic and
communication that are rarely used by untrained individuals. Indeed,
without special training,people routinely commit serious (and often
costly) errors of reasoning, over and over. It is no coincidence
that the tools of effective reasoning are indispensable in non-
scientific fields, from the law to journalism; from philosophy to
public affairs.

In this course we aim to provide a grounding in principles  of
effective reasoning that can bring lifelong benefits. We will learn
to identify and use both deductive and inductive forms of reasoning,
to identify and correct common mistakes in reasoning (fallacies),
and to spot the strengths and weaknesses in important kinds of
scientific studies, political arguments, and everyday disagreements
over what's what. Along the way we'll cover the basics of
symbolizing arguments, truth-functional connectives, conditional and
causal arguments, probability and statistics in induction,
confirmation and disconfirmation of hypotheses, and Categorical
syllogisms.