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Choice and Chance: An Introduction to Inductive Logic
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2004
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book, in its 4th edition, was one of the first textbooks on
inductive logic I read. Here is the table of contents:
1. Basics of Logic
2. Probability and Inductive Logic
3. The Traditional Problem of Induction
4. The Goodman Paradox and the New Riddle of Induction
5. Mill's Methods of Experimental Inquiry and the Nature of Causality
6. The Probability Calculus
7. Kinds of Probability
8. Probability and Scientific Inductive Logic
Answers to Selected Exercises
Index
I did not read this textbook as a textbook for a class, but instead read it independently. I also did all of the exercises in the entire book, and used the answers at the end of the book to verify my answers whenever possible. Overall, I was very pleased with the textbook. The explanations were mostly clear, and the progression of topics from the simple to complex was appropriate.
I have two minor complaints about the book. The first regards chapter 7, where Skyrms discusses, among other topics, the chance function as well as the von Neumann-Morgenstern theory of utility. I don't know if this is a statement about the textbook or the reader, but I felt the explanations of those two topics were less clear than other sections of the book. I was able to compensate for that by doing Internet searches on those two topics, however, so it wasn't a major inconvenience.
The second complaint regards the answers to exercises. As the other reviewer noted, the back of the book is incorrect when it states there are "completely worked out solutions at the back of the book for every other problem." Off the top of my head, I would say that is probably true 80-85% of the time, with most of the exceptions occurring towards the end of the book. This is unfortunate, since the most complex exercises are naturally found towards the end of the book. In particular, the exercise for section VII.6 (on chance) on p. 150 is enormously complicated, and cries out for an answer. There should have been a second exercise for that section, so that at least one exercise would have had a fully worked out solution in the back of the book.
Despite these two complaints, however, this is still an excellent book. Overall, Skyrms has provided his readers and students with a helpful introduction to inductive logic.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a good introduction to logic, inductive and, to a lesser extent, deductive. It probably serves better as a textbook than as an aid to individual learning, but under the proper conditions and with the proper reader, it could serve both. I liked it best when it was explaining the truth tables and the rules of the calculus of probability. Particularly interesting are the practical applications in the exercises, especially in cards and dice and, to a lesser extent, horse racing. The concepts of utility and belief need amplification because they come off too briefly in relation to their importance. No one who has mastered this book would ever have trouble calculating the exact value of a bet - a benefit of some importance to us gamblers. I have never seen or heard of the theory of marginal value applied to money. It certainly applies to other things, like water. Too little water makes water very valuable, enough is enough, and too much gives water a negative value (as in our current flooding in Texas). Skyrms is right about some aspects of money: Too little and it hurts. Don't believe me? Try walking around New York City on the weekend with only a dime in your pocket. A poor man would be a fool to risk $1000 on an even money bet. Because if he lost, it would hurt a lot. A rich man could lose that bet and not suffer at all. And of course, enough money is good. Therefore, money does have a relative value. Whether it has a marginal value (too much is bad) is debatable. Some things that might be corrected in the next addition: The answers to the exercises should have pages numbers for more easy reference. The cover is wrong in saying there are answers for every other problem. That is only partially true and in fact some exercises have no answers eg VIII 3 has no answers to any exercise. And Symes is wrong in assuming that evaluating all the evidence doesn't cost anything (page 154). It costs time and trouble. Whether it is worth it would depend on the situation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
In the 1970s I took a course on Inductive Logic and this book was one of the textbooks. It was excellent and highly readable to someone new to the subject. I kept that book all these years and I re-read parts of it fairly regularly.

Skyrms is a top notch logician and an excellent writer. I am ordering this new version tonight. I will update this review as soon as I have read this new book.

In short, I would highly recommend this book either as a text or just to learn about inductive logic. It is definitely not too heavy for independent reading.

Brian Skyrms is an incredible philosopher, logician, game theorist and decision theorist. I am disappointed to see from the other reviews that he gave such short shrift to decision theory and utility theory. That was the main reason that I wanted to buy this book. But for most readers I don't think that his skimming that topic will matter as regards learning about inductive logic.
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Format: Paperback
Having taught philosophy for approximately 30 years at the college level including logic classes, I would rate this book as too advanced for any introductory class in logic. EVen so, it is a good book. It is clear in its presentation. However, it is also quite technical. It would be an ideal text for a graduate-level course or seminar devoted exclusively to inductive logic. Such a class would definitely benefit from reading this book.

One thing I would have liked to have seen covered is the relationship between probability and rationality. More specifically, is it always rational to act on the most probable outcome? And if not, why not. As a person who used to play the horses, I have been intrigued for some time by the fact that there are situations in which the most probable outcome is not the one on which it is most rational to bet.To take another example, it is rational to carry auto or homeowners insurance, even though we are in effect betting on an outcome with low probability, namely, that our house will burn down or that our car will be totaled. I have rarely seen this topic covered in a text on probability or induction. However, it would be a welcomed addition to this book.
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on May 21, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book was very helpful for inductive logic class. I was able to learn the assignments from a different perspective and an now using it to prepare for the LSAT
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on September 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
I had to purchase this text for a college class I am currently taking this semester, and, so far, I find it to be a very good book on the subject that it tries to teach.
I have never had experience with any type of Logic in an educational setting before, so I came into this class and began using this book with no prior knowledge of the subject. I find that this text is made for those such as myself who have never had such experience, as the title would suggest, "...An Introduction...."
Skyrms uses fairly sensible language, and it does not seem as if he is trying to confuse the reader with overly complicated sentences or vocabulary, although some of the material requires a certain extent of this. Also, each chapter comes with an introduction which presents the material to be learned in such a way as to ease the reader into the subject. Skyrms gives plenty of examples of theories, many tables, &c to illustrate the process and function of ideas. There is also a conclusion that sums up and connects the material presented in the chapter, as well as exercises to reinforce the material.
Although I have only been using this book for a short time so far, I find that it has been and will continue to be a great book for students or otherwise interested readers of this subject.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Awesome price and amazing quality almost brand new quality.
No torn pages or bent covers. I love buying used books.
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