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Phil 321/01 (3)
Probability and Decision
Term 1 (Fall 2001)
Review Session: Monday, Dec. 3, 10 - 12 a.m., Buchanan B220
Assignment 3: Problem 1c) is now an optional bonus question. See "Skyrms, chapter 1: additional information" for some discussion of how to do this problem.
Due date clarification: Assignment 3 is due Friday, November 30.
Extension: The term paper is now due Monday, December 10 instead of November 30.
MW 12:00-1:00 or by appointment
Description: There are two well-developed philosophical theories that try to characterize what it means to make choices rationally. One is Decision Theory, which considers the position of one agent choosing between several alternatives, with varying levels of information about factors that might influence the resulting outcomes. The other is Game Theory, which provides techniques for analyzing interactions between several agents.
The course will focus on explaining the two theories and related concepts (such as probability). We will also explore paradoxical situations (such as Newcombs problem and the Prisoners Dilemma) where the theories appear to clash with ordinary intuitions about rationality.
Both theories have a wide range of applications, including business strategies, ethical and political choices, and the confirmation/disconfirmation of scientific theories. We will consider such applications throughout the course, with emphasis on social applications of game theory, concluding with a discussion of Skyrms book, Evolution of the Social Contract.
Requirements: The final grade will be based upon the following scheme: three problem sets (15%), mid-term test (20%), term paper (2000-2500 words/8-10 pages 30%), final exam (35%).
Pre-requisites: There are no pre-requisites; however, students who take this course should feel comfortable with technical work. I recommend having taken Phil 120 (Critical Thinking), Phil 220 (Logic), or introductory courses in mathematics, computer science or economics. Please speak to me if you have any concerns about this aspect of the course.
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