Philosophy of Science

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Miklos Redei


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method. This course is available on the BSc in Philosophy and Economics, BSc in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

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 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

This year, some or all of this teaching will take place online.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to write four essays (two in MT and two in LT), answer short-answer-questions before each class, and participate in class discussion.

Indicative reading

P Godfrey-Smith: Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. C Hitchcock (editor): Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science.


Essay (50%, 1500 words) in the MT.
Essay (50%, 1500 words) in the LT.

Students are expected to produce 1 summative essay in MT and 1 summative essay in LT. 

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 40.5
2:1 52.7
2:2 6.8
Third 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2021/22: 18

Average class size 2021/22: 10

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.