Induction: reasoning or prejudice? - Lecture Series

Course summary

Induction: reasoning or prejudice? - Lecture Series


All the critical reasoning textbooks put inductive reasoning on a par with deductive reasoning. It is just one form of reasoning, albeit one we have not been able to systemise in the way deduction has been systematised. This may seem unproblematic – after all inductive reasoning, so it has been said, is central to scientific practice. But there are notorious problems with inductive reasoning. Hume told us that induction can’t be justified – that we have no reason to use it. He didn’t think, though, that we could not use it. Popper, however, eschewed it completely. He denied that it was reasoning, arguing that confirmation, of any kind, is a waste of scientific time – falsification is what is needed, and that uses deduction. During these lectures we will consider these questions. There will be plenty of opportunity to question the speaker.

Programme details

Tea/coffee is provided in the Common Room after each lecture, from 3.30pm
1.45pm Registration (first week only 10 October in Rewley House Reception)

10 OCT 2016
The Nature of Induction

17 OCT 2016
Hume: The Uniformity of Nature

24 OCT 2016
Popper: Confirmation and Falsification

31 OCT 2016
Scientific Reasoning

7 NOV 2016
Are we really rational?

14 NOV 2016
Rationality and persuasion

Recommended reading

Talbot, M: Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic: available as an e-book (only) from: chapters 3 and 4.
Miller, D: Critical Rationalism: A Restatement and Defence Open Court publishers 1994 (now out of print but available from Amazon), especially chapter 1, and 'Do We Reason When We Think We Reason, or Do We Think?' (2005)at:
Popper, K: The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1934 (as Logik der Forschung, English translation 1959), ISBN 0-415-27844-9
Marianne Talbot – podcast on the differences between deduction and induction: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (SEP) on Karl Popper: SEP on the problem of induction:


Tuition (includes tea/coffee): £105.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Ms Marianne Talbot

Director & Tutor

Marianne Talbot B.A., B.Phil., has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education since 2001. She has written several of Oxford’s popular short online courses on Philosophy, and her podcasts (notably on critical reasoning) have been downloaded over 5 million times. Marianne specialises in logic, ethics and the philosophy of mind. The topic of knowledge is her particular current interest.