Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

 

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 210

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Inductive Reasoning

Catalog Description:

210 - Inductive Reasoning - 3 S.H.

Introduction to inductive reasoning and how to avoid being tricked by faulty or pseudo scientific claims and arguments, and how to critically assess public policy in light of good scientific reasoning. Students study how to use experimentation and the scientific method to test theoretical, statistical, and causal hypotheses. Famous discoveries in the history of science are used as illustrations. Other topics include fundamental concepts of probability, sampling, causation, and correlation. Offered each year.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.

 

Department Contact Person for this course: Kevin Possin

Email: kpossin@winona.edu

The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in:

Unity and Diversity—Critical Analysis 

 

INDUCTIVE REASONING

PHIL 210

University Studies—Critical Analysis

 

Critical Analysis courses in the University Studies program are devoted to teaching critical thinking or analytic problem-solving skills. These skills include the ability to identify sound arguments and distinguish them from fallacious ones. The objective of these courses is to develop student's abilities to effectively use the process of critical analysis. Disciplinary examples should be selected to support the development of critical analysis skills.

Inductive Reasoning 210 is an introduction to scientific reasoning and the use and abuse of scientific reasoning. Scientific experiments and surveys, etc., are simply arguments or reasons to believe certain theoretical, causal, or statistical claims. The entire course is dedicated to how to properly understand such argumentation and assess its cogency. These scientific reasoning skills are continuously applied to historical cases and to contemporary cases—often times cases in which science has or should have influenced social policy; e.g., current pseudoscientific fads and recent developments in medicine which have an impact on educational practices and legal practices and legislation. By practicing a multi-stepped scientific method for dissecting, analyzing, and assessing scientific studies, students develop the abilities and habits of critically reviewing explanatory, statistical, and causal claims. By incorporating these practices into their assessments of risk, students become better able to critique and frame social policy and solve social problems.

 

 

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

 

 

1. Evaluate the reliability of information.

One of the primary objectives of this course is to understand what constitutes reliable evidence—reliable information—for a hypothesis. We begin with a philosophical analysis of the nature of evidence and use that analysis to confirm that among the various methods of belief formation, the scientific method clarified by course’s multi-stepped method is the best. Throughout the course, many, many examples and cases are analyzed with respect to the reliability or unreliability of their proposed information or evidence.

 

2. Analyze modes of thought, expressive works, arguments, explanations, or theories.

 

The entire course is dedicated to the examination of explanatory, theoretical, causal, and statistical hypotheses, and how to properly argue for them. In the process of doing this, many, many famous historical hypotheses are examined and more contemporary instances are also studied, e.g., the latest hypotheses and research concerning breast implants, high voltage lines, and asbestos abatement. Other cases are added as they appear in the news.

 

3. Recognize possible inadequacies or biases in the evidence given to support arguments or conclusions;

 

By means of philosophical analysis, the limitations and yet vast capabilities of scientific reasoning are established. In the process, the student’s ability to recognize faulty evidence is greatly enhanced. The course’s multi-stepped program for assessing scientific claims and arguments is designed to help the student detect inadequacies of evidence no matter their nature. Classic examples from the history of science are discussed [e.g., phlogiston] as well as more contemporary instances [e.g., faith healing].

 

 

4. Advance and support claims.

The entire course is dedicated to the study of how to articulate, choose, and argue for the most rational scientific claims from among competing claims [explanatory, statistical, or causal], for the purpose of understanding the world and framing or correcting social policy. These skills are enhanced by continual practice at critically reviewing scientific articles in class, as homework, and on exams.

 

 

INDUCTIVE REASONING

PHIL 210

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies—Critical Analysis

 

 

Introduction

We are called upon daily to draw conclusions about what probably is or is not the case, on the basis of empirical evidence. Sometimes this involves elaborate experimental studies, bearing on life and death issues, and sometimes this involves only whether we have missed the bus, judging from the fact that no one is waiting at the bus stop. In either case, we are using scientific reasoning. The overall question addressed in this course is "What constitutes good scientific reasoning?"—reasoning that has the greatest probability of getting one to the goal of truth concerning claims about the empirical world.

This course presupposes no background in science. It will, however, provide you with such a background, by examining many historical cases of scientific argumentation. More generally, though, you will learn how to learn science--how to study, appreciate, and evaluate scientific claims.

 

Course Content

I. Epistemology and the Scientific Method.

II. Arguments: Deductive and Inductive.

III. Arguing For or Against Theoretical Hypotheses.

A. Theories and Models.

B. The 6-Step Program for Understanding and

Evaluating Theoretical Hypotheses.

C. Historical Cases.

D. Marginal Science.

E. Social Policy Implications

IV. Arguing For or Against Statistical Hypotheses.

A. Statistical Models.

B. Simple Correlations.

C. Rules of Probability.

D. Sampling.

E. Program for Understanding and Evaluating

Statistical Hypotheses.

F. Historical Cases.

G. Opinion Polls and Surveys.

H. Social Policy Implications

V. Arguing For or Against Causal Hypotheses.

A. Causation v. Correlation.

B. Causal Models: Deterministic v. Stochastic.

C. Program for Evaluating Causal Hypotheses.

D. Historical Cases and Experimental Design:

Random Sample, Prospective, and Retrospective.

E. Social Policy Implications

 

Texts

Understanding Scientific Reasoning, Ronald Giere.

Handout on Creationism

Numerous videos

 

Means of Evaluation

Three extensive take-home writing projects on assigned sets of questions.

 

 

 

 

All course activities and assignments simultaneously address all University Studies’ required course outcomes in Inductive Reasoning 210, in the following ways:

 

 

 

Critical Analysis courses in the University Studies program are devoted to teaching critical thinking or analytic problem-solving skills. These skills include the ability to identify sound arguments and distinguish them from fallacious ones. The objective of these courses is to develop student's abilities to effectively use the process of critical analysis. Disciplinary examples should be selected to support the development of critical analysis skills.

Inductive Reasoning 210 is an introduction to scientific reasoning and the use and abuse of scientific reasoning. Scientific experiments and surveys, etc., are simply arguments or reasons to believe certain theoretical, causal, or statistical claims. The entire course is dedicated to how to properly understand such argumentation and assess its cogency. These scientific reasoning skills are continuously applied to historical cases and to contemporary cases—often times cases in which science has or should have influenced social policy; e.g., current pseudoscientific fads and recent developments in medicine which have an impact on educational practices and legal practices and legislation. By practicing a multi-stepped scientific method for dissecting, analyzing, and assessing scientific studies, students develop the abilities and habits of critically reviewing explanatory, statistical, and causal claims. By incorporating these practices into their assessments of risk, students become better able to critique and frame social policy and solve social problems.

 

 

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

 

 

1. Evaluate the reliability of information.

One of the primary objectives of this course is to understand what constitutes reliable evidence—reliable information—for a hypothesis. We begin with a philosophical analysis of the nature of evidence and use that analysis to confirm that among the various methods of belief formation, the scientific method clarified by course’s multi-stepped method is the best. Throughout the course, many, many examples and cases are analyzed with respect to the reliability or unreliability of their proposed information or evidence.

 

2. Analyze modes of thought, expressive works, arguments, explanations, or theories.

 

The entire course is dedicated to the examination of explanatory, theoretical, causal, and statistical hypotheses, and how to properly argue for them. In the process of doing this, many, many famous historical hypotheses are examined and more contemporary instances are also studied, e.g., the latest hypotheses and research concerning breast implants, high voltage lines, and asbestos abatement. Other cases are added as they appear in the news.

 

3. Recognize possible inadequacies or biases in the evidence given to support arguments or conclusions;

 

By means of philosophical analysis, the limitations and yet vast capabilities of scientific reasoning are established. In the process, the student’s ability to recognize faulty evidence is greatly enhanced. The course’s multi-stepped program for assessing scientific claims and arguments is designed to help the student detect inadequacies of evidence no matter their nature. Classic examples from the history of science are discussed [e.g., phlogiston] as well as more contemporary instances [e.g., faith healing].

 

 

4. Advance and support claims.

The entire course is dedicated to the study of how to articulate, choose, and argue for the most rational scientific claims from among competing claims [explanatory, statistical, or causal], for the purpose of understanding the world and framing or correcting social policy. These skills are enhanced by continual practice at critically reviewing scientific articles in class, as homework, and on exams.