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Unit information: Philosophy of Probability in 2020/21

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Unit name Philosophy of Probability
Unit code PHILM0028
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jason Konek
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will consists of three parts:

1. probability theories

We will examine the basic principles and properties of the main theories of probability are explained and discussed. We start with the classical or orthodox theory ("Kolmogorov probability"). Then we look at several generalisations of probability theory: finitely additive probability, imprecise probability, and Popper functions.

2. interpretations of probability

We then investigate different philosophical interpretations of probability. Particular attention will be given to: the classical interpretation, subjective interpretations, objective probability, the relative frequency interpretation, and the propensity interpretation.

3. probability and philosophy

In this part we look at ways in which probability theory can be brought to bear on philosophical problems. We will investigate some of the following in detail: utility theory and decision theory, measures of epistemic accuracy, conditionals, qualitative and quantitative belief, randomness, and theories of finite and infinite lotteries.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will:

(1) have sophisticated knowledge and understanding of probability theories, interpretations of probability, and the philosophical issues to which probability gives rise.

(2) have sophisticated knowledge and understanding of a wide range of important primary and secondary literature on these topics.

(3) be able to critically assess these theories, interpretations, and the philosophical positions and arguments in the relevant debates, with a sophistication appropriate to level M/7.

(4) be able to communicate these assessments, and explain theories, interpretations, positions, and arguments, assessed, with clear, fluent writing with a sophistication appropriate to level M/7.

(5) have developed research skills with a sophistication appropriate to level M/7.

Teaching details

Lectures, seminars and tutorials

Assessment Details

Summative Assessment: One essay of up to 6,000 words (excluding bibliography) designed to test the ILOs. - 100%

Reading and References

  • Hacking, I. (2001). An introduction to probability and inductive logic. Cambridge University Press.
  • Suppes, P. (2002). Representation and invariance of scientific structures. Stanford: CSLI publications. Chapter 5.
  • Eagle, A. (2010). Philosophy of probability: contemporary readings. Routledge.