Philosophy of Science
This information is for the 2020/21 session.
Prof Roman Frigg LAK 101
This course is available on the MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy, MSc in Philosophy of Science and MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. This course is not available as an outside option.
Science is chock full of miraculous predictions, shocking revolutions, and unexpected results that few science fiction writers could have ever dreamed of. What makes science so special? This course is a tour of the philosophical underpinnings of modern science. No background in any science is needed for this course; everything you need to know will be covered.
Indicative topics include: Theory and Observation: Hume’s problem of induction and Goodman’s new riddle of induction, Popper’s falsificationism, underdetermination of theory by evidence, the positive instance account of confirmation, Bayesianism. Laws of Nature: the regularity view of laws, laws as universals, the best systems account, instrumentalism. Explanation: the DN model of explanation, statistical explanation, causal explanation, unification. Intertheory relations: reductionism and pluralism. Realism versus Antirealism: Scientific realism and antirealism, the no miracles argument, inference to the best explanation, the pessimistic meta-induction, reductive empiricism, constructive empiricism, the natural ontological attitude, entity realism, structural realism, Kuhn and scientific revolutions. Sociological approaches to science: Social constructivism, feminism. Causation: Hume’s, Mill’s, Mackie’s accounts of causation, counterfactual theories, probabilistic causality and manipulability accounts, transference accounts. Philosophy of a special science: Space and Time in Newton’s physics.
10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.
This year, some or all of this teaching will take place online.
Students will be expected to write four essays (two in MT and two in LT), submit a few short answers before each seminar, and participate in seminar discussion.
T S Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; K R Popper, Conjectures and Refutations; B van Fraassen, The Scientific Image; N Cartwright, How the Laws of Physics Lie.
Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.
Student performance results
(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)
|Classification||% of students|
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Total students 2019/20: 19
Average class size 2019/20: 9
Controlled access 2019/20: No
Value: One Unit