Philosophy of Science
This information is for the 2021/22 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. 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. Models: scientific modelling and scientific representation. Science and social context: values, constructivism, feminism, operating modes of science. Causation: Hume’s, Mill’s, Mackie’s accounts of causation, manipulability accounts.
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), answer short-answer-questions 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.
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Student performance results
(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)
|Classification||% of students|
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 21
Average class size 2020/21: 10
Controlled access 2020/21: No
Value: One Unit