Welcome to this lecture series on reasoning with probabilities. I want to start off by acknowledging that studying probability theory isn’t high on most people’s “bucket lists” of things to do before they die, so we should probably spend some time talking about why this stuff is important from a critical thinking standpoint.
Here are five reasons to study probability.
Just to give an example of the fifth point , the so-called “fine-tuning” argument for the existence of God is based on the premise that we live in a universe that is probabilistically very unlikely if it wasn’t the product of some kind of intelligent design, and therefore the best explanation for our existence in this universe is that it was, in fact, a product of intelligent design. But this kind of argument turns on what it means for something to be “probabilistically unlikely”, and whether it’s even meaningful to talk about the universe in this way. I won’t say any more about that here, but that’s just one example of an interesting philosophical debate where probability plays an important role.