There is a long tradition of fruitful interaction between philosophy and the sciences. Logic and statistics emerged, historically, from combined philosophical and scientific inquiry into the nature of mathematical and scientific inference; and the modern conceptions of psychology, linguistics, and computer science are the results of sustained reflection on the nature of mind, language, and computation. In today's climate of disciplinary specialization, however, foundational reflection is becoming increasingly rare. As a result, developments in the sciences are often conceptually ill-founded, and philosophical debates often lack scientific substance.


In 2014, the Department of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University will hold a three-week summer school in logic and formal epistemology for promising undergraduates in philosophy, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, economics, and other sciences. The goals are to

  • introduce promising students to cross-disciplinary fields of research at an early stage in their career; and

  • forge lasting links between the various disciplines.

The summer school will be held from Monday, June 2 to Friday, June 20, 2014. There will be morning and afternoon lectures and daily problem sessions, as well as planned outings and social events.


The summer school is free. That is, we will provide:

  • full tuition

  • dormitory accommodations on the Carnegie Mellon campus

So students need only pay for round trip travel to Pittsburgh and living expenses while here. We expect to be able to accept about 25 students in 2014. There are no grades, and the courses do not provide formal course credit.

The summer school is open to undergraduates, as well as to students who will have just completed their first year of graduate school. Applicants need not be US citizens. There is a $30 nonrefundable application fee.

Applications are due by Friday, March 14, 2014. Please help us spread the word. There is a flyer that is suitable for distributing, framing, or hanging on an office door.



The Topology of Inquiry

Monday, June 2 to Friday, June 6

Instructor: K.T. Kelly
Email: kk3n[at]andrew[dot]cmu[dot]edu

The standard mathematical frameworks for understanding reasoning are logic and computability for mathematical reasoning and probability theory for empirical reasoning. In this summer school session, we examine an alternative, topological viewpoint according to which computational and empirical undecidability can both be viewed as reflections of topological complexity. That may sound a bit odd, since topology is usually understood to be "rubber geometry", or the study geometrical relationships preserved under stretching operations that neither cut nor paste pieces together. In fact, topology is better understood as studying the mathematical structure of epistemic verifiability. Topological concepts and results will be applied to provide a unified, explanatory perspective on empirical underdetermination, formal undecidability, and the elusive connection between simplicity and empirical truth.

Background Reading:
1) "The Logic of Success"
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, special millennium issue, 51, 2001, 639-666.

2) Several overview papers are available on my web-site:
(with O. Schulte) "Church's Thesis and Hume's Problem," in Logic and Scientific Methods, M. L. Dalla Chiara, et al., eds. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997, pp. 383-398.

3) "Justification as Truth-finding Efficiency: How Ockham's Razor Works", Minds and Machines 14: 2004, pp. 485-505.






Causal and Statistical Inference

Monday, June 9 to Friday, June 13
Instructor: David Danks
Email: ddanks[at]cmu[dot]edu

As forcefully argued by Hume, causal learning poses a distinctive epistemological problem: how do we determine what factors causally influence other factors given that we only observe sequences of events? The problem of causal inference, particularly from statistical data, is a central methodological challenge within most of the sciences. Over the past twenty years, philosophers, statisticians, and computer scientists have developed a formalism -- causal Bayes nets -- for representing causal structures and solving problems of causal and statistical inference. In this component of the summer school, we will introduce this formalism, and explore how it can be used to solve various philosophical problems of causal and statistical inference, as well as various scientific problems.




Philosophy as Discovery

Monday, June 16 to Friday, June 20

Instructor: Clark Glymour
Email: cg09[at]andrew[dot]cmu[dot]edu

The usual histories of philosophy hide two things: the role of formal ideas and the influence of philosophical thought on science and social visions. OK, three things: lots of the best philosophical thought was by people never mentioned in the usual histories. We will take a week to look at some of what the usual histories miss, including some of the following:

Ramon Lull: The medieval reaction to Aristotelian logic that resulted in the rebirth of combinatorics and the birth of voting theory. The central role of combinatoric themes in 17th century philosophy, notably Hobbes, Leibniz, and Pascal. Kant: geometry, Aristotelian logic, and learning theory. Helmholtz on the causal assumptions necessary for grasping the external world--echoed in Reichenbach and Russell. Bayes and Price respond to Hume. Boole on Logic, probability, causality and the distinction between descriptions and norms. The creation of the physical theory of mind: Helmholtz, Du Bois Reymond, Brucke and Freud. Why Frege's logic was necessary. Charles Sanders Peirce and the design of experiments. Hilbert and mathematical discovery. Frank Ramsey criticizes Keynes theory of probability and creates a foundation for modern economics. How Rudolf Carnap inadvertently created artificial intelligence. How Carl Hempel contributed to machine learning and thought it was impossible. Ethics (much of it) as voting theory. I will assign a lot of reading, none of which you will have to do.



How to apply

The deadline for the 2014 Summer School has passed.

Additional information

The Information page provides information about travel, accommodations, schedule, etc.

Summer School History

The summer school was launched in 2006. The National Science Foundation provided substantial funding in 2006 and 2007, and partial funding for 2009, 2010 and 2011. You may also view web pages and information from previous years. (This information is being updated and will be available soon.)

The summer school is directed by Teddy Seidenfeld.
Inquiries may be directed to teddy[at]stat[dot]cmu[dot]edu.