Philosophy of Science

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Miklos Redei


This course is available on the MSc in Economics and Philosophy, 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.

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: The logical positivist demarcation of science from non-science, Popper’s falsificationism, Lakatos' Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, Kuhn's concept of science.  Explanation: the deductive nomological explanation, statistical explanation. The positive instance account of confirmation. Foundations of probability and Bayesian confirmation.  Laws of Nature: the regularity view of laws, the best systems account. 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, constructive empiricism, the natural ontological attitude, entity realism, structural realism. Models: scientific modelling and scientific representation. Science and social context: values, constructivism, feminism, operating modes of science. 


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the AT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the WT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to write two essays (one in MT and one in LT), and participate in seminar discussion.

Indicative reading

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.


Essay (50%, 2000 words) in the AT.
Essay (50%, 2000 words) in the WT.

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
Distinction 43.3
Merit 43.3
Pass 10
Fail 3.3

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2022/23: 14

Average class size 2022/23: 6

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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