Summer School & Schedule

The summer school will take place on the 4th-6th July 2015 at the University of Bristol and will cover topics in rationality and formal epistemology.

It will be held in Room G2 of Cotham House on the 4th & 5th July, and Lecture Theatre 2, Arts Complex, 3-5 Woodland Road on the 6th July. Please see the contact page for maps & directions.

The following speakers will be presenting tutorials:

Greg Gandenberger (University of Pittsburgh): Statistical Inference: Formal Epistemology Meets Scientific Practice
Jason Konek (University of Bristol): Accuracy-First Epistemology
Richard Pettigrew (University of Bristol): Accuracy-First Epistemology
Jan-Willem Romeijn (University of Groningen): Social Epistemology
Katya Tentori (University of Trento): Inductive reasoning: Formal models and experimental results

Attendance at the summer school is free, but participants are asked to register by e-mail:


Saturday 4th July

9:30 – 10:00 – Coffee & Registration
10:00 – 11:30 – Richard Pettigrew (University of Bristol)
11:30 – 11:45 – Break
11.45 – 13:15 – Greg Gandenberger (University of Pittsburgh)
13:15 – 14:45 – Lunch
14:45 – 16:15 – Katya Tentori (University of Trento)
16:15 – 16:30 – Break
16:30 – 18:00 – Jan-Willem Romeijn (University of Groningen)

Sunday 5th July

9:30 – 10:00 – Coffee & Registration
10:00 – 11:30 – Jan-Willem Romeijn (University of Groningen)
11:30 – 11:45 – Break
11.45 – 13:15 – Richard Pettigrew (University of Bristol)
13:15 – 14:45 – Lunch
14:45 – 16:15 – Greg Gandenberger (University of Pittsburgh)
16:15 – 16:30 – Break
16:30 – 18:00 – Katya Tentori (University of Trento)

Monday 6th July

9:30 – 10:00 – Coffee & Registration
10:00 – 11:30 – Katya Tentori (University of Trento)
11:30 – 11:45 – Break
11.45 – 13:15 – Greg Gandenberger (University of Pittsburgh)
13:15 – 14:45 – Lunch
14:45 – 16:15 – Jan-Willem Romeijn (University of Groningen)
16:15 – 16:30 – Break
16:30 – 18:00 – Jason Konek (University of Bristol)


Greg Gandenberger – Statistical Inference: Formal Epistemology Meets Scientific Practice

Frequentist methods of inference have been criticized on a number of grounds, but they continue to predominate in many areas of science. Why? This series of tutorials will focus on one line of defence that some advocates of frequentist approaches employ: their methods provide guarantees about long-run performance in repeated applications. These justifications have some worrisome features, including the fact that they are ex ante, worst-case, long-run, assumption-laden, and concerned with the performance of repeatable procedures rather than with the reasonableness of particular applications of those procedures. On the other hand, they also have the attractive features of being (in some sense) truth-directed and objective. How much weight should we give to these justifications, in light of those features? Depending on time and student interest, we may explore comparisons with other approaches that have been motivated in at least superficially similar ways, such as Bayesian updating; likelihoodist characterizations of evidential favouring; Ockham’s razor; truth-tracking and reliabilist approaches to epistemology; and various rule-based approaches to ethics.

Richard Pettigrew – Accuracy-First Epistemology

An agent’s degrees of belief should satisfy the axioms of probability.  She should update her degrees of belief in the light of new evidence in line with the Bayesian rule of conditionalization.  If she learns the objective chances, her degrees of belief ought to match them.  In the absence of any evidence, she ought to distribute her degrees of belief equally over all possibilities.  These are norms that govern epistemic agents when we represent them as having degrees of belief in the propositions they entertain.  What establishes these norms?  Pragmatic arguments have been given for some; evidentialist arguments for others.  In this set of tutorials, I’ll describe an alternative sort of argument.  It begins with the claim that the sole fundamental virtue of degrees of belief is their accuracy, or proximity to the truth, and it provides a way of measuring this accuracy.  Then it derives the consequences of this assumption.  Amongst those consequences are the four norms just listed.

Jan-Willem Romeijn – Social Epistemology

In my lecture I will consider the epistemology of groups, and the epistemic interactions of group members. In the first part I will concentrate on Condorcet’s jury theorem and the so-called wisdom of the crowd. Taken as a whole groups have better judgement than individuals because, roughly speaking, their mistakes get averaged out. In the second part I will consider interactions among group members, as described by models of opinion pooling and epistemic game theory. This part concern with the value of diversity in consensus formation, the danger of mass hysteria, and a deceptively short proof for the fact that we cannot agree to disagree.

Katya Tentori – Inductive reasoning: Formal models and experimental results

Humans’ spectacular ability to draw inferences from limited information underpins perception, categorization, prediction, diagnostic reasoning, and scientific discovery. Everyday inferences may be extremely different in content, but less so in structure. Most of them are inductive because they venture beyond the information given to draw conclusions that are probable given the available evidence, but are not logically implied by it. In my tutorial, I will introduce the Bayesian confirmation measures set out in the epistemology literature to quantify impact (or degree of confirmation) that new evidence has on the credibility of a hypothesis. I will also present a novel experimental paradigm for eliciting assessments of evidential impact. Finally, I will discuss the results of some recent studies which show that impact judgements are more accurate and consistent than probability judgements, suggesting that human inductive reasoning relies more on estimating evidential impact than on posterior probability.

The summer school is supported by the European Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust.

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