Scientific Reasoning


In this course, we investigate the kinds of reasoning involved in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Some of the topics discussed in this course: the differences between inductive and deductive reasoning, probabilistic and statistical reasoning, models in science, how to evaluate causal hypotheses, and the role of values in scientific reasoning. More broadly, we investigate questions about the nature and justification of scientific knowledge, e.g., why does science offer evidence and explanations rather than decisive proofs? After taking this course students should have a better understanding of what scientific reasoning entails, how it is used in various contexts, and how to evaluate or follow-up on scientific studies reported in the news or on social media.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

* distinguish between different types of reasoning, including deductive and inductive reasoning, and know how they apply to reasoning in science

* synthesize information reported about scientific studies, determine the conclusion of a study, and evaluate the support offered for the conclusion

* identify various fallacies in reasoning and how they apply to cases of bias in science

* explain what a model is and how different types of models are used across the sciences

* evaluate the reliability of various sources of belief, including media, expert, and personal experience

Syllabus available on request. Email me at