Letters & Science 22
Sense and Sensibility and Science
Philosophy and Values; Physical Science; Social and Behavioral Sciences
Every day we make decisions that can and should be informed by science. We make decisions as individuals, as voters, and as members of our various communities. The problem is, we don’t do it so well—a fact sadly apparent in political debates. This course aims to equip students with basic tools to be better thinkers. We will explore key aspects of scientific thinking that everyone should know, especially the many ways that we humans tend to fool ourselves, and how to avoid them—including how to differentiate signal from noise, evaluate causal claims, and avoid reasoning biases. We’ll then look at the best models for using science to guide decisions, combining both evidence and values, with the ultimate goal of bettering the world.
We’re facing a world that seems to struggle with rational collective decision making. How can we take into account our values, fears, and aspirations while also grappling with and evaluating facts and evidence? We make decisions as individuals, as groups, and as a society; we find this challenge everywhere we turn. This year, the challenge of making good decisions as a society seems both more difficult and more important than ever. Over the centuries, scientists, psychologists, and philosophers have developed rigorous, yet open-minded ways of thinking about the world that can help us address these universal and pressing concerns. This course explores and directly engages with some of the most useful tools of scientific-style critical thinking, taking into account both psychological biases and philosophical underpinnings.
Course website: http://sensesensibilityscience.com
- Spring 2023
- Spring 2022
- Spring 2021
- Spring 2020
- Spring 2018
- Spring 2017
- Spring 2016
- Spring 2014
- Spring 2013