In a data- and information-saturated world, people need quantitative skills to understand both common and complex issues, and to formulate and ask intelligent questions. Concepts related to quantitative literacy include but are not limited to measurement, logic, number sense, percentages, sampling and error, and graphical representation of data and information.
Courses with a quantitative literacy designation (QL) will focus on the measurement of personal, social, and scientific issues. You will develop the ability to investigate and interpret quantitative information, critique it, reflect upon it, and apply it to a given issue. You will be able to provide accurate explanations of information generated or presented mathematically and construct reasoned arguments. You’ll also learn to present quantitative information in an effective format to support your argument.
PHIL20400 Choosing Wisely
This class serves as an introduction to rational choice theory. Rational choice theory is fundamentally about using numbers to capture preference order (I prefer x to y) and preference strength (I prefer x to y much more than I prefer x to z), and trying to use those numbers to come to uniquely rational choices. Rational choice theory also considers the probability of various events occurring to further refine our choices.
Rational choice theory is an interdisciplinary study; the product of the joint efforts of philosophers, mathematicians, economists, social scientists, and others. It is both used to describe how people do in fact behave and to prescribe how people ought to behave. Besides becoming comfortable with the formal tools of rational choice theory, this class will primarily be concerned with some of the contentious assumptions behind the theory. We will also have a chance to look at both philosophical applications of the theory and uses of the theory in other disciplines; e.g. political science and evolutionary biology.
This course is roughly divided into thirds. The first third deals with individuals making decisions independently of others (decision theory). The second third of the course will consider people making choices in the context of other individuals (game theory). The final third of the course will investigate aggregating individual preferences to come to group decisions (social choice theory).