Department of Philosophy

Deborah Mayo

Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1979
235 Major Williams Hall | Email | (540) 231-8488 | Personal Website
Philosophy of Statistics, Philosophy of Science

Dr. Mayo's work is in the epistemology of science and the philosophy of statistical inference. Her recent research has involved developing an account of experimental inference in science based upon statistical reasoning and the idea of learning from error. Her "error statistical" philosophy of experiment is set out in her Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge (University of Chicago Press, 1996). She applies her approach toward solving key problems in philosophy of science: underdetermination, the role of novel evidence, Duhem's problem, and the nature of scientific progress. Dr. Mayo is also interested in applications to problems in risk analysis and risk controversies, and has co-edited Acceptable Evidence: Science and Values in Risk Management (with Rachelle Hollander). Dr. Mayo teaches courses in introductory and advanced logic (including the metatheory of logic and modal logic), in scientific method, and in philosophy of science. She also teaches special topics courses in Science and Technology Studies.


Recent Articles (For a full list of publications, please see personal webpage)

  • "Error, Severe Testing, and the Growth of Theoretical Knowledge" in Error and Inference: Recent Exchanges on Experimental Reasoning, Reliability and the Objectivity and Rationality of Science (D. Mayo and A. Spanos eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010: 28-57.
  • "An Error in ate Argument from Conditionality and Sufficiency to the Likelihood Principle" in Error and Inference: Recent Exchanges on Experimental Reasoning, Reliability and the Objectivity and Rationality of Science (D Mayo and A. Spanos eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010: 305-14.
  • "The Error Statistical Philosopher as Normative Naturalist" (with J. Miller), Synthese 163(3), 2008: 305-14.
  • "Critical Rationalism and Its Failure to Withstand Critical Scrutiny," in C. Cheyne and J. Worrall (eds.) Rationality and Reality: Conversations with Alan Musgrave, Kluwer series Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, Springer: The Netherlands, 2006: 63-99.
  • "Frequentists Statistics as a Theory of Inductive Inference," with Sir D.R. Cox, Optimality: The Second Erich L. Lehmann Symposium (ed. J. Rojo), Lecture Notes-Monograph series, Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), Vol. 49, 2006: 77-97.
  • "Philosophical Scrutiny of Evidence of Risks: From Bioethics to Bioevidence, (with A. Spanos), Philosophy of Science 73(5), 2006: 803-17.
  • "Severe Testing as a Basic Concept in a Neyman-Pearson Philosophy of Induction" with A. Spanos British Journal of Philosophy of Science, 57, 2006: 323-357.
  • "Evidence as Passing Severe Tests: Highly Probed versus Highly Proved" in P. Achinstein (ed.), Scientific Evidence, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2005: 95-127.
  • "An Error-Statistical Philosophy of Evidence" in M. Taper and s. Lele (eds.) The Nature of Scientific Evidence: Statistical, Philosophical and Empirical Considerations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004: 79-118.
  • "Severe Testing as a Guide for Inductive Learning," in H. Kyburg (ed.), Probability Is the Very Guide in Life. Chicago: Open Court, 203: 89-117.
  • "Could Fisher, Jeffreys and Neyman have Agreed? Commentary on J. Berger's Fisher Address." Statistical Science 18, 203: 19-24.
  • "Peircean Induction and the Error-Correcting Thesis," in R. Mayorga (guest ed.) Peirce-spectives on Metaphysics and the Sciences, Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 2005: 299-319.
  • Severe Tests, Arguing From Error, and Methodological Underdetermination," Philosophical Studies, 86 (3), June 1997.
  • "The New Experimentalism, Topical Hypotheses, and Learning From Error" in D. Hull, M. Forbes, & R.M. Burian, Proceedings of the 1994 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, East Lansing: Philosophy of Science Association, 1994.
  • "The Test of Experiment: C.S. Peirce and E. S. Pearson," in E. Moore, ed., Charles S. Peirce and the Philosophy of Science, Tuscaloose: University of Alabama Press, 1993.
  • "Novel Evidence and Severe Tests," Philosophy of Science, 58 (4), December 1991.

Regular Classes

  • Philosophy 2605: Reason and Revolution
  • Philosophy 5506: Metalogic
  • Philosophy 6334: Advanced Topics in the Philosophy of Science