Syllabus Philosophy 61 Fall 2011

Inductive Logic  

Fall 2011


  • G. Randolph Mayes
  • Mendocino 3028
  • Office Hours:  T,Th  7:45 -8:45 AM and 1:30 - 2:30 PM or by appointment
  • e-mail:  <> 
  • Website:
  • Google Talk:  grandolphmayes

Catalogue Description

Introduction to inductive logic and the problem of decision under uncertainty. Topics include: the nature of inductive rationality, philosophical theories of induction and probability, cognitive biases and common errors in inductive reasoning, and philosophical problems in defining risk, rational agency, and the expected value of an action.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course the student who passes this class will understand

  1. the difference between deductive and inductive logic. 
  2. the basic axioms of probability and the concept of conditional probability.
  3. how to use the basic concepts and axioms of probability to calculate probabilities of specific outcomes. 
  4. Bayes Rules and how to use it to calculate conditional probabilities.
  5. various systematic ways in which people err when making intuitive assessments of probabilities.
  6. the concept of expected value and how to do basic expected value calculations under conditions of uncertainty.
  7. how people err when making decision based on intuitive assessments of utility and risk.
  8. basic philosophical accounts of the nature of probability.
  9. basic statistical concepts such as stability, standard deviation, gaussian distributions, statistical significance, and confidence.

Course Requirements

Your grade in this course will be calculated on  the basis of your performance on 6  tests, at least 3  of which will be administered in class.  The first five tests are worth 20 pts.  The 6th test will be administered on the day of the final exam and it is worth 40 pts. If it benefits you to do so, your grade on the final will be substituted for the sum of your two lowest test scores.  Otherwise it will not be counted. The tests will involve formal problem solving as well as written explanation and application of basic concepts. The final test will be comprehensive.



 QuantityValue Total 
Tests 5 20 100
 Final 1 40 *
Total Possible  100

*Final is optional, grade is substituted for sum of two lowest tests scores if it benefits student to do so.

Final letter grades are assigned on a standard scale. 92% and above = A, 90-91% = A-, 88-89% = B+, 82- 87% = B, 80-81% = B-, etc. Fractional point totals are rounded up from .5. You and only you are responsible for monitoring your performance in this course. Be sure to pay close attention to the drop deadline. 


You will lose 5 points off of your final grade for every class meeting over 3 that you miss. The Philosophy Department sponsors several lectures each semester.  Students who attend these lectures may submit a roughly one-page summary by e-mail.  Thoughtful, well-composed, summaries free of typos will be awarded 1 attendance credit.  A maximum of 3 attendance credits are possible.

Get to class on time.  You may be late two times without penalty.  After that a late is equal to an absence. You are late if you come in after I call your name for roll.  If you are late, you must tell me at the end of that period on that day, or it will be counted as an absence. 

Laptops and other electronics.

If you use a laptop or a tablet for any reason you need to sit in the back of the room.   Cell phones must of course be silenced and put away during class time.  

Late and Make-up Policy 

No late take-home tests are accepted for any reason.  There are no make-up tests, though for very compelling reasons it may sometimes be possible to arrange to take a test early.


Keep up with the reading and homework problems. Logic  is very demanding of your time and attention. Be sure to check the What's Up link at least a day before each class period in order to know what you will be responsible for.


Academic Honesty

You are free to study together outside of class.  However, all work done in this course is subject to the  CSUS academic honesty policy, which you may read at:  Academic Honesty Policy & Procedures.   

In this course you will be using a hand held device called a CPS RF response pad or "clicker" to answer quiz questions.  Your clicker is only capable of answering questions under your name and can not be shared with or transferred to anyone else until this course is over.  Never handle another student's clicker or allow anyone else to handle your clicker while in class.  Students who do will be expelled from class and referred to Student Affairs for disciplinary action. 

Course Materials

  1. Textbook:  An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic, by Ian Hacking
  2. Supplemental material distributed online.

Students with Special Needs

Students who have special learning or testing needs must notify the instructor by the end of the second week of the semester.  Students who fall into this category should visit SSWD Lassen Hall 1008 (916) 278-6955 with appropriate documentation.



Dates, times and the schedule of readings are subject to revision at the discretion of the instructor.