Inductive Logic  

Fall 2013


  • G. Randolph Mayes
  • Mendocino 3028
  • Office Hours:  T,Th 12-1:15 or by appt.
  • e-mail:  <> 

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 20 quizzes  and 10 tests.  Each quiz is worth 5 points each. Each test is worth 10 points each. The quizzes are normally taken with a clicker that you must purchase and register on Blackboard.  The tests will normally be done in class.  Approximately 24 quizzes and 12 tests will be administered.  Your best scores will determine your grade.  There is no final exam. 


 QuantityValue Max Possible 
Tests10 10 100
Quizzes20 5100
Total   200


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. 

Grades for quizzes and test will all be on Blackboard.


I do not monitor attendance, but in-class quizzes or tests are given during every class meeting, so missing class, even when you are keeping up with the material, is a bad idea. There are no makeups of quizzes or tests.

Laptops and other electronics.

If you use a laptop you need to sit in the back of the room.   Cell phones must of course be silenced and put away during class time.  Tablets are ok anywhere.  No electronic devices except clickers and hand held calculators may be used for quizzes and tests.  You may not use the calculator on your phone.  Loaner calculators will be available.

Late and Make-up Policy 

As noted, there are no make-up tests or quizzes.  Extra tests and quizzes are given to accommodate unavoidable absences.


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.

Required texts and course materials:

  • Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic, by Ian Hacking
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
  • Turning Point clicker.
  • Hand held calculator,  capability of doing exponents is desirable.

Extra Credit

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 5 points, and this grade will be substituted for a low quiz score (though not a missing quiz score.) A maximum of 2 extra credit assignments may be submitted.

Course evaluations for this course are conducted online. As an incentive to participation, all students will receive 3 extra points if 85% of students participate in the survey, 4 points if 90% participate and 5 points if 95% participate.  (These are mutually exclusive options, only one applies.)

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.   

As noted, in this course you will be using a hand held  "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 receive a failing grade in the cllass and be referred to Student Affairs for disciplinary action. 

Reasonable Accommodation

Students who have a documented disability and require accommodation or assistance with assignments, tests, attendance, note taking, etc., must provide documentation to the the instructor by the end of the 2nd week of semester to allow arrangements to be made. Students should consult with the Services for Students with Disabilities (Lassen Hall 1008,  Ph: 916-278-6955)  to see what campus services and accommodation options  are available. All information shared with the instructor will remain confidential.   

Communicating with Instructor 

By far the most effective means of communicating with the instructor is by e-mail. Unless you send an e-mail late at night, you will normally receive an answer the same day. Re-send your e-mail if you do not. When communicating with instructor by e-mail, observe the guidelines at this link.



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