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Degrees of Belief

Degrees of Belief

Subjective Probability and Engineering Judgment

Steven G. Vick

ASCE Press

2002 / 472 pp.

Soft Cover - In Stock
$65.00 List / $48.75ASCE Member
Stock No. 40598 / ISBN: 9780784405987

Degrees of Belief artfully weaves together three elements at the very core of engineering: uncertainties in knowledge, inductive reasoning, and individual expertise. Written from a geotechnical and earth sciences perspective, it brings new meaning to these concepts for nearly any field of engineering, science, or technology decision-making.

The book begins by examining the tension between theory and practice, showing how this is manifested in the different meanings of probability used in reliability and risk analysis. It emphasizes the cognitive processes used in conceptualizing uncertainty, with techniques and tools for subjective probability assessment. Turning to what this requires, it lends substance to professional judgment by examining its diagnostic, inductive, and interpretive elements. The book also investigates the nature of expertise by bringing to life such towering figures as Roebling, Stevens, and Terzaghi, and their monumental engineering achievements.

Masterfully synthesizing a wide variety of sources in a way directly relevant to engineers, the book draws on the history and philosophy of science through the work of Thomas Kuhn and Henri Poincaré. It provides a window on current behavioral research that applies it to everyday thinking. This is all richly illustrated by examples from practice, including a gripping reassessment of the 1986 Challenger incident as seen through the eyes of the engineers who experienced it. From philosophical foundations to nuts and bolts, this is a groundbreaking book of serious content and sparkling style sure to engage any engineer or scientist who thinks about what they do and how they do it.

About the Author
Steven G. Vick is a geotechnical engineer and internationally recognized review consultant. This is his second book.

Product Reviews

"Degrees of Belief is a uniquely crafted work that combines engineering, probability theory, philosophy, history, biography and psychology." —Dr. Brian Stimpson, Associate Dean and Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Manitoba

"This book should be of interest to every engineer and scientist." —Henry Petroski, A.S. Vesic Professor of Engineering, Duke University

"This much-needed book should go a long way to demystify the nature of professional judgment in geotechnical engineering." —Gregory B. Baecher, Professor and Chairman, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Maryland

"...a unique perspective to engineering...establishes inductive reasoning as a legitimate and essential strategy for engineering and scientific thinking." —The Chief Engineer

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