History and Philosophy Of Science | Scientific Reasoning
X200 | 3053 | M. 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
the success of those

Consider that among the most important tools of science are methods
for effective reasoning, including standards of 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-functial connectives, conditional and
casual arguments, probability and statistics in induction,
confirmation and disconfirmation of hypotheses, and catagorical
syllogisms.