In this course—syllabus here—you will learn the formal tools of argument analysis and probability theory and then apply these tools to examine real world questions. The course is divided in four parts:

part 1 – argument analysis and deductive arguments;

part 2 –  inductive arguments and probability theory;

part 3 – case study, i.e. the chemical attacks in Syria in 2016 and 2017; and

part 4 – student-run research projects on a topic of choice.

For more information about the course, please scroll down!


1. Deduction

week 1: Mon Aug 28 & Wed Aug 30

As a warm-up, we will begin with a few reasoning exercises and logical puzzles. 

NB: Assignment #1 [PDF] – due Aug 30 – solutions [PDF]

week 2: Wed Sept 6 — No class on Mon Sept 4 

We will discuss the structure of an argument, its articulation into premises and conclusions, and the distinction between deductive and inductive arguments [slides here].

Euclid, Elements, Book I, Propositions 1—5

definitionspostulates and common notion

proofs of proposition II-III and IV-V

week 3Mon Sept  11 & Wed Sept 13 

Same topic as last week.

week 4: Mon Sept  18 —  No class on Wed Sept 20

We will discuss what necessary and sufficient conditions are and their significance within arguments [slides here].

WIFI Philosophy, Necessary and Sufficient Conditions [video1video2]

Milton Friedman on Slavery and Colonization [video]

week 5: Mon Sept 25 & Wed Sept 27

Review of the topics discussed and exam preparation [worksheet].

NB: In-class exam #1 on Sept 27 – solutions [PDF]

2. Induction

week 6: Mon Oct 2 & Wed Oct 4

After deductive arguments, we will turn to inductive arguments and probability theory.

Hacking, Probability, chapter 1-2 [PDF]

week 7:  Wed Oct 11 – no class Mon Oct 9

A key result in probability is Bayes’ theorem. We will discuss its significance and applications.

Hacking, Probability, chapter 3-7 [PDF]

week 8: Mon Oct 16 & Wed Oct 18

Same topic as last week [handout]

week 9: Mon Oct 23 & Wed Oct 25

In-class quiz on Oct 23 and exam #2 on Oct 25

3. Case study

week 10Mon Oct 30 & Wed Nov 1


We will apply probability theory to a case study. As a preliminary step, we will familiarize ourselves with the www.rootclaim.com website and its method.

RootClaim, White Paper [link] and Inside the Calculations [link]

week 11:  Mon Nov 6 & Wed Nov 8

We will examine the Syrian chemical attacks in 2016 and 2017 and assess the conflicting hypotheses about what happened.

RootClaim, What caused the chemical calamity in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017? [link

NB: Assignment #2 [PDF]  – due Nov 8

4. Projects

week 12: Mon Nov 13 & Wed Nov 15

Workshop in preparation for student presentations and final projects

NB: Assignment #3 [PDF]  – due Wed 15

week 13: Mon Nov 20 & Wed Nov 22


week 14: Mon Nov 27 & Wed Nov 29


week 15: Mon Dec 4 & Wed Dec 6


week 16: Mon Dec 11

Final overview of the course.

 NB: Final project report  – due Dec 11