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An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic [Paperback]

Ian Hacking
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 July 2001
This is an introductory 2001 textbook on probability and induction written by one of the world's foremost philosophers of science. The book has been designed to offer maximal accessibility to the widest range of students (not only those majoring in philosophy) and assumes no formal training in elementary symbolic logic. It offers a comprehensive course covering all basic definitions of induction and probability, and considers such topics as decision theory, Bayesianism, frequency ideas, and the philosophical problem of induction. The key features of this book are a lively and vigorous prose style; lucid and systematic organization and presentation of ideas; many practical applications; a rich supply of exercises drawing on examples from such fields as psychology, ecology, economics, bioethics, engineering, and political science; numerous brief historical accounts of how fundamental ideas of probability and induction developed; and a full bibliography of further reading.

Frequently Bought Together

An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic + The Emergence of Probability: A Philosophical Study of Early Ideas about Probability, Induction and Statistical Inference (Cambridge Series on Statistical & Probabilistic Mathematics) + The Taming of Chance (Ideas in Context)
Price For All Three: 62.33

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Product details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (2 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521775019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521775014
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 18 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 483,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'Hacking's book excels … especially in the practical, concrete examples. It uses minimal mathematics and presumes no acquaintance with symbolic logic. It is well suited for graduate or advanced undergraduate courses in inductive logic or related areas (such as philosophy of science or methodology courses in particular empirical sciences). The book gives a nice introduction to inductive logic.' Harry Gensler, Times Higher Education Supplement

'This is, as intended, a very introductory text in probability and inductive logic.' Zentralblatt für Mathematik

Book Description

This is an introductory 2001 textbook on probability and induction written by one of the world's foremost philosophers of science. It offers a comprehensive course covering all basic definitions of induction and probability, and considers such topics as decision theory, Bayesianism, frequency ideas, and the philosophical problem of induction.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An antidote to mindless reasoning 28 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback
Our ancestors had to decide how safe it was to enter a cave, we have to decide how safe it is to buy a stock or to get a new job. Both are inductions, and we are still not very good at them. But, unlike our ancestors, we have come to massively underestimate the problem and often take evidence at face value, especially when fashioned as "scientific". Hacking's introduction is an excellent antidote to the sorry custom of drawing mindless conclusions from seemingly sophisticated but invalid probabilistic reasoning. I also recommend reading Hacking's other two books on the history probability: The Emergence of Probability and The Taming of Chance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection 25 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was perfect. There was no damage at all. It was perfect. Many thanks. I have since come back to buy more books.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What do you mean, "probably"? 14 Feb 2002
By Berel Dov Lerner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The best thing about this book is that it teachs basic probability theory while keeping the reader constantly aware of the on-going debate regarding what it means to talk in terms of probabilities, and of how that debate has shaped the development of probability theory. If you are a student taking a course in probability and statistics who would like to genuinely understand the conceptual basis of all those formulas they are teaching you, I suggest you read this book.
Some readers will be disappointed by this book. Since the book concentrates on the conceptual basis of probability and inductive logic, it does not give the reader enough technical tools to really do much applied mathematics. On the other hand, by the time Hacking gets around to discussing what students of philosophy will likely view as the big philosophical pay-off of probability theory (i.e. Bayesian and frequentist contributions to the problem of justifying induction) he devotes to them a mere 20 pages of not terribly deep discussion.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Especially good on Bayesianism and Frequentism 14 Jun 2007
By Steve L - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
(FOUR AND A HALF STARS)
This is more an intro to the PHILOSOPHY of probability and inductive logic than an intro to the MATHEMATICS of probability of inductive logic, although some of the basic mathematical ideas are covered (which is useful if you're gonna discuss the philosophy). Do not get this book if you're just looking for a typical mathematical intro to statistics. But DO get this book if you want to know about the foundations of Bayesianism or are interested in the Frequentists vs. Bayesian debate. It is the best intro out there on the Frequentists/Bayesians issue, and it is extremely helpful for someone who is trying to get a handle on Bayesian reasoning. Also, those who are more into the mathematical aspects of probability could find this book useful in giving them a wider perspective on the subject. On the whole, it's clearly written and fun to read, although it is not an "easy" book. A basic knowledge of probability theory and some initial grasp of induction are good to have before reading this. But overall, it's highly recommended for those who want to know about the conceptual underpinnings of probability/induction in general, and Bayesian and Frequentism specifically.
37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone, any thinker 6 Jun 2002
By Steven Bucuvalas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone (including business men) who must make decisions with incomplete information and under uncertainty. Instead of focusing on the mechanics of statistics, it focuses on how to think about risky propositions.
I bought this book while working on a particular problem in machine learning, at a point where I had started realizing that I was losing clarity on my definition of probability. I was using the mechanics, but didn't clearly understand why the use was valid. This seemed an odd and embarrassing circumstance at the time, how could I not understand what "probability" means? As it turns out this confusion is one shared broadly in history of science, and in current applications of statistical mechanics.
Prof Hacking's writing is clear and entertaining, clearly aimed at engaging the reading audience.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Introductory Text 30 Jan 2009
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a first rate introductory text prepared by a well known philosopher and expert on the logic and history of probability & statistics. The approach is disarmingly simple. Hacking avoids complicated math and proofs and teaches via the intuitive appeals to the underlying logic of these topics. Hacking begins with an intuitively based discussion of basic features of probability theory, expectation, Bayes rule, and decision analysis. This is followed by a particularly good exposition of the different senses of probability; belief-Bayesian and frequentist. Hacking shows how both approaches can be used fruitfully and rigorously in even mundane problems. These sections are followed by very nice chapters on the underlying logic of normal distributions, statistical hypothesis testing, and confidence intervals. This is the diametrical opposite of the cookbook approach used often in many statistics books and provides very nice understanding of key features of statistical methods. I never appreciated the strength of the confidence interval approach before reading this book. Hacking concludes with some concise but thoughtful chapters on the philosophical implications of these ideas, particularly as applied to the classic problem of induction. The quality of writing is excellent and the book features a large number of good examples and problems to work through. Strongly recommended to individuals who want to learn more about the basis of statistical methods.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars top tier introduction to probability and inductive logic 4 May 2011
By A. Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book. It is easy to read and provides excellent examples. Not only does it introduce the reader to Bayes' Theorem, but it also covers various gambler's fallacies. A nice addition is the lucid philosophical commentary that keeps the reader informed about the various debates about inductive logic that have taken place over the ages. With this book, a beginner can get up-to-date with the theorem (Bayes') that has recently taken both the philosophy of science and probability worlds by storm.

It is great to see a solid logic book for philosophy that is not deductive. Inductive logic is important too!
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