CHANGING BELIEFS

ABOUT

This is graduate seminar (PHILG044) focuses on when and how one should change one’s beliefs. The course will cover a variety of topics in epistemology both formal and informal. Our starting place will be the wide-ranging and enjoyable discussion of the nature of belief, change in belief, and rationality in Harman’s Change in View. We will move from there to the question of what the relationship is between so-called full or outright belief and graded or partial belief. Then, we will discuss candidate principles for changing (or not changing) both types of belief. We will go on to examine the leading formal theory of belief revision for outright belief, AGM. Later topics will depend on the instructor or students’ whims, fancies, or, in extreme cases, serious intellectual preoccupations. (We might discuss Kuhn’s view of scientific change, for example.)

MECHANICS

The seminar meets Thursdays from 1 to 4pm in the seminar room of the UCL Philosophy Department, 19 Gordon Square. There is no meeting on 10 May and there is an extra session Monday 4, June from 2-4pm.

The module will be assessed on the basis of a short problem set–covering a bit of AGM as well as Bayesianism–which you are encouraged to collaborate on. Basic knowledge of logic and probability might come in handy for this (and for about 1/2 to 1/3 of the topics covered in the course). The rest of the assessment will be in the form of 3000 word essay. Enrolled graduate students will give short presentations throughout the term.

Auditors and provocateurs welcome.

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

26 April (Thurs) INTRODUCTION TO CHANGES IN BELIEF
Harman’s Change in View (pages 1-75).

3 May (Thurs) CREDENCE AND BELIEF
Christensen, Two Models of Belief from Putting Logic in its Place
Sturgeon, Reason and the Grain of Belief
Buchak, Belief, Credence, and Norms
Hawthorne, Rothschild, Spectre, Belief is weak

17 May (Thurs) REFLECTION
Fraassen, Belief and the Problem of Ulysses and the Sirens
Elga, Self‐locating belief and the Sleeping Beauty problem
Artzenius Some Problems for Conditionalization and Reflection
Briggs, Distorted Reflection

24 May (Thurs) DIACHRONIC RATIONALITY
Christensen, Diachronic Coherence versus Epistemic Impartiality
Hedden, Time-Slice Rationality
Carr, Don’t stop believing

31 May (Thurs) AGM
Gardenfors, Belief Revision: an Introduction
Hansson, The Logic of Belief Revision
Shear and Fitelson, Two Approaches to Belief Revision

4 June (Mon) BELIEF CHANGE AND KNOWLEDGE
Kripke, On Two Paradoxes of Knowledge

7 June (Thurs) SCIENTIFIC CHANGE?

Resources

This course syllabus from Branden Fitelson is particularly useful: Fundamentals of Bayesian Epistemology


Image © University of Edinburgh.