Anubav Vasudevan

Anubav Vasudevan
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies (2021-22)
Rosenwald Hall, Room 218-C
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter: Thursdays, 2:00-3:30 (and by appointment)
773.702.4234
Columbia University PhD (2012); Virginia Polytechinic Institute and State University, BS Physics and Philosophy (2002)
Teaching at UChicago since 2011; on leave 2018-19
Research Interests: Metaphysics & Epistemology

Anubav Vasudevan is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy. His current research interests are in the areas of formal epistemology and the history of logic. His work in the former area relates primarily to issues in the foundations of probability, in particular, the question of how it might be possible to reconcile an objective interpretation of probability with a metaphysical conception of the world as subject to strictly deterministic laws. His research in the history of logic focuses on the logical writings of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. His work on this topic aims both to illuminate the fundamental relationship that exists between Leibniz’s system of logic and his more well-known metaphysical and epistemological doctrines, and to situate Leibniz’s logic within the broader history of the subject, dating back to Aristotle’s theory of the categorical syllogism and continuing through to the systems of algebraic logic developed in the work of such nineteenth-century logicians as Boole, Peirce, and Schröder. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 2012. He is the chair of the department's Diversity, Inclusivity, Climate, and Equity Committee in 2021-22.

Selected Publications

Vasudevan, A. Biased Information and the Exchange Paradox. Synthese (forthcoming)

Vasudevan, A. Entropy and Insufficient Reason: A Note on the Judy Benjamin Problem. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)

Kim, B. and Vasudevan, A. (2017). How to expect a surprising exam. Synthese (August 2017)

Malink, M. and Vasudevan, A. (2016). The logic of Leibniz’s Generales Inquisitiones de Analysi Notionum et Veritatum. Review of Symbolic Logic, 9:686–751

Vasudevan, A. (2013). On the a priori and a posteriori assessment of probabilities. Journal of Applied Logic, 11(4):440–451

Gaifman, H. and Vasudevan, A. (2012). Deceptive updating and minimal information methods. Synthese, 187(1):147–178

Media

Anubav Vasudevan on Elucidations

Recent Courses

PHIL 49702 Revision Workshop

This is a workshop for 2nd year philosophy graduate students, in which students revise a piece of work to satisfy the PhD program requirements.

All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 23210/33210 The Chicago School

Before there was a “Chicago School” of neo-classical economics, the School of Chicago referred to a wide-ranging set of philosophical, psychological, and pedagogical doctrines produced, in collaboration, by such prominent members of the University’s faculty as the philosophers John Dewey and George Herbert Mead, and the psychologist and educator James Angell.  In a 1904 entry in the Psychological Bulletin, William James announced the entrance of the Chicago School onto the American intellectual scene, proclaiming: “Chicago has a School of Thought! a school of thought which, it is safe to predict, will figure in literature as the School of Chicago for years to come… Professor John Dewey, and at least ten of his disciples, have collectively put into the world a statement, homogeneous in spite of so many cooperating minds, of a view of the world, both theoretical and practical, which is so simple, massive, and positive that, in spite of the fact that many parts of it yet need to be worked out, it deserves the title of a new system of philosophy.”

At the core of this system was the simple idea that all thinking, in even its most theoretical guise, must ultimately be viewed a form of practical activity. The abstract theories that are the end products of such thought, are, accordingly, nothing more than cognitive tools deriving their significance entirely from the instrumental role that they play in addressing the concrete needs for which they were devised. Behind this simple conceit lay a more elaborate conception of functionalist psychology and the logic of inquiry, according to which theory and practice, thinking and doing, are not to be viewed as separate spheres of human life. Each is instead to be understood with reference to the service it renders the other so as to effect a “continuous, uninterrupted, free, and fluid passage from ordinary experience to abstract thinking… [One in which] observation passes into development of hypothesis; deductive methods pass to use in description of the particular; inference passes into action with no sense of difficulty save those found in the particular task in question.” Upon such psychological and philosophical foundations, the theorists of the Chicago School attempted to erect a far-reaching  campaign of educational reform, in which the purpose of a university education was not to be conceived as the transmission of knowledge to students, but rather as the sharing of communal social experiences through which young people could be successfully integrated into a deliberative democratic society. 

In this course, we will undertake a critical examination of the psychological, philosophical, and pedagogical writings comprising the work of the Chicago School. The central text for the course will be Studies in Logical Theory, originally published in 1903, which collects together a number essays written by the original members of the faculty of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. (B)

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 49701 Topical Workshop

This is a workshop for 3rd year philosophy graduate students, in which students prepare and workshop materials for their Topical Exam.

 A two-quarter (Autumn, Winter) workshop for all and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 49701 Topical Workshop

This is a workshop for 3rd year philosophy graduate students, in which students prepare and workshop materials for their Topical Exam.

A two-quarter (Autumn, Winter) workshop for all and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 52002 C.S. Peirce: Logic and Metaphysics

This course will undertake a critical review of the some of the seminal logical and metaphysical writings of the American pragmatist philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce made numerous original contributions to the field of mathematical logic, particularly to the fields of relational and quantificational logic, and, in the first part of the course, we will carefully examine some of Peirce's most important writings on the subject. In the second half of the course, we will examine some of Peirce's most characteristic metaphysical doctrines. These include: triadism - the view that all experience may be classified within a tripartite scheme consisting of the categories of "firstness," "secondness," and "thirdness;" tychism - the view that objective chance is an operative feature of the cosmos; haecceitism - the view that individual substances have an essence de re and not merely de dicta; and synechism - the view that the cosmos is fundamentally a continuum, no part of which is fully separate or determinate. (II)

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
American Pragmatism
Logic

PHIL 22962/32962 The Epistemology of Deep Learning

Philosophers have long drawn inspiration for their views about the nature of human cognition, the structure of language, and the foundations of knowledge, from developments in the field of artificial intelligence. In recent years, the study of artificial intelligence has undergone a remarkable resurgence, in large part owing to the invention of so-called “deep” neural networks, which attempt to instantiate models of cognitive neurological development in a computational setting. Deep neural networks have been successfully deployed to perform a wide variety of machine learning tasks, including image recognition, natural language processing, financial fraud detection, social network filtering, drug discovery, and cancer diagnoses, to name just a few. While, at present, the ethical implications of these new and powerful systems are a topic of much philosophical scrutiny, the epistemological significance of deep learning has garnered significantly less attention.

In this course, we will attempt to understand and assess some of the bold epistemological claims that have been made on behalf of deep neural networks. To what extent can deep learning be represented within the framework of existing theories of statistical and causal inference, and to what extent does it represent a new epistemological paradigm? Are deep neural networks genuinely theory-neutral, as it is sometimes claimed, or does the underlying architecture of these systems encode substantive theoretical assumptions and biases? Without the aid of a background theory or statistical model, how can we, the users of a deep neural network, be in a position to trust the reliability of its predictions? In principle, are there any cognitive tasks with respect to which deep neural networks are incapable of outperforming human expertise? Do recent developments in artificial intelligence shed any new light on traditional philosophical questions about the capacity of machines to act intelligently, or the computational and mechanistic bases of human cognition? (B) (II)

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 29400/39600 Intermediate Logic

(HIPS 20500, CHSS 33600)

This course provides a first introduction to mathematical logic for students of philosophy. In this course we will prove the soundness and completeness of deductive systems for both propositional and first-order predicate logic. (B) (II)

Elementary Logic (PHIL 20100/30000) or its equivalent.

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 22401/32401 Modern Logic and the Structure of Knowledge

In this course, we will examine the various ways in which the concepts and techniques of modern mathematical logic can be utilized to investigate the structure of knowledge. Many of the most well-known results of mathematical logic, such as the incompleteness theorems of Gödel and the Löwenheim-Skolem theorem, illustrate the fundamental limitations of formal systems of logic to fully capture the structure of the semantic models in which truth and validity are assessed. Some philosophers have argued that these results have profound epistemological implications, for instance, that they can be used to ground skeptical claims to the effect that there must be truths that logic and mathematics are powerless to prove. One of the aims of this course is to assess the legitimacy of these epistemological claims. In addition, we will explore the extent to which the central results of mathematical logic can be extended so as to apply to systems of inductive logic, and examine what forms of inductive skepticism may emerge as a result. We will, for example, discuss the epistemological implications of Putnam's diagonalization argument, which shows that, for any Bayesian theory of confirmation based on a definable prior, there must exist hypotheses which, if true, can never be confirmed. (B) (II)

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 29400/39600 Intermediate Logic

(HIPS 20500, CHSS 33600)

This course provides a first introduction to mathematical logic. In this course we will prove the soundness and completeness of deductive systems for both propositional and first-order predicate logic. (B) (II)

 Elementary Logic (PHIL 20100) or its equivalent.

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 20116/30116 American Pragmatism

This course is a first introduction to American Pragmatism. We will examine some of the seminal philosophical works of the three most prominent figures in this tradition: Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Our main aim will be to extract from these writings the central ideas and principles which give shape to pragmatism as a coherent alternative to the two main schools of modern philosophical thought, empiricism and rationalism. (B) (III)

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
American Pragmatism

PHIL 50218 The Problem of Induction

(II)

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 29400/39600 Intermediate Logic

(CHSS 33600, HIPS 20500)

In this course, we will prove the soundness and completeness of deductive systems for both sentential and first-order predicate logic. We will also establish related results in elementary model theory, such as the compactness theorem for first-order logic, the Lӧwenheim-Skolem theorem and Lindstrӧm's theorem. (B) (II)

Elementary Logic or the equivalent.

2017-2018 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 20116/30116 American Pragmatism

This course will survey some of the seminal writings of the early American Pragmatist tradition. We will focus primarily on works by the three most prominent figures in this tradition: C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Our aim in the course will be to extract from these writings the central ideas and principles which give shape to pragmatism as a coherent philosophical perspective, distinct from both empiricism and rationalism. (B) (II)

2017-2018 Autumn
Category
American Pragmatism

PHIL 50116 Pragmatism

This course will begin by examining the central writings of the early American Pragmatists, C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. We will compare the early formulations of pragmatism that appear in these works, both against one another other, as well against more recent formulations of pragmatism, as put forward by such philosophers as Putnam, Davidson, and Rorty. (II) (III)

2016-2017 Spring
Category
American Pragmatism

PHIL 29400/39600 Intermediate Logic

(CHSS 33600, HIPS 20500)

In this course, we will prove the soundness and completeness of deductive systems for both sentential and first-order logic. We will also establish related results in elementary model theory, such as the compactness theorem for first-order logic, the Lowenheim-Skolem theorem and Lindstrom’s theorem. (B) (II)

2016-2017 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 22960/32960 Bayesian Epistemology

This course will provide an introduction to Bayesian Epistemology. We will begin by discussing the principal arguments offered in support of the two main precepts of the Bayesian view: (1) Probabilism: A rational agent's degrees of belief ought to conform to the axioms of probability; and (2) Conditionalization: Bayes's Rule describes how a rational agent's degrees of belief ought to be updated in response to new information. We will then examine the capacity of Bayesianism to satisfactorily address the most well-known paradoxes of induction and confirmation theory. The course will conclude with a discussion of the most common objections to the Bayesian view. (B) (II)

2016-2017 Autumn
Category
Epistemology

For full list of Anubav Vasudevan's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.