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Scientific Reasoning: the Bayesian approach (third edition)

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Colin Howson|, Peter Urbach
Open Court Books, 31 March 2006

This user-friendly, comprehensive course in probability and statistics as applied to physical and social science explains the probability calculus, distributions and densities, and the rivals of Bayesianism - the classical, logical, and subjective theories. Howson and Urbach clearly lay out the theory of classical inference, the Neyman-Pearson theory of significance tests, the classical theory of estimation, and regression analysis.

The work is controversial, but it gives a fair and accurate account of the anti-Bayesian views it criticises. The authors examined the way scientists actually appeal to probability arguments, and explain the 'classical' approach to statistical inference, which they demonstrate to be full of flaws. They then present the Bayesian method, showing that it avoids the difficulties of the classical system. Finally, they reply to all the major criticisms levelled against the Bayesian method, especially the charge that it is 'too subjective'.

  • Colin Howson is professor of philosophy in the Philosophy Department at LSE
  • Peter Urbach is emeritus reader in the Philosophy Department at LSE

Praise for earlier editions

'Two English philosophers provocatively argue the case for Bayesian logic, with a minimum of complex math. They claim that Bayesian thinking is identical to the scientific method and give fascinating examples of how to analyse beliefs, such as Macbeth's doubting of the witches' prophecy, the discovery of Neptune on the strength of faith in Newton's law but zero evidence, and why people get hooked on Dianetics.'
Discover

'For the first time, we have a book that combines philosophical wisdom, mathematical skill, and statistical appreciation, to produce a coherent system.'
Dennis V Lindley, University College London

'This is a wonderful book for those who want to understand the state of the art of Bayesian principles and techniques as they are applied to just about every important statistical situation.'
International Studies in Philosophy

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