Philosophy of Science
|PHL 252, PHL 252W, PHL 452||Dewey 2110D||Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 11:00am to 11:50pm|
This is a survey course in general philosophy of science, focussing on metaphysical questions concerning the nature of science. Representative questions include: Must a scientific theory work because the entities it posits exist in the real world? Or is there some other way of explaining the success of science? Should we believe our best current scientific theories even though all of our past theories have been false? How should we understand scientific laws? Do the laws of nature govern the world or simply encapsulate some interesting patterns in the world? What is the relationship between lower level and higher level laws, and between lower level and higher level scientific theories? Do scientific explanations work because they tell us about laws, or because they tell us about causes, or for some other reason? The course may taken for upper level writing credit.
- Ten 1–2 page weekly reading summaries. Ideally each summary will include a proposed question or topic for discussion, and an indication of which—if any—parts of the reading were unclear or confusing.
- A 10–15 minute presentation, followed by discussion.
- A first 4–6 page research paper, questions to be provided.
- A second 8–10 page research paper, questions to be provided.
The final grade will be determined as follows:
Note: Graduate students or students enrolled for upper level writing credit will be required to write longer essays. Graduate students will also be required to do additional reading and meet for an additional discussion section.
|First Paper:||Monday 17 March||Questions [PDF]|
|Second Paper:||Wednesday 7 May||Questions [PDF]|
|Weekly Reading Summaries:||Midnight the evening before each class|
Lecture One (Wednesday 16 January)
Introductory Discussion: What is Science?
Lecture Two (Wednesday 23 January)
Sections §1–§2 to be read for this class.
Lecture Three (Monday 28 January)
Focus on sections §1–§2.
Scriven, Michael. 1959. “Explanation and Prediction in Evolutionary Theory: Satisfactory Explanation of the Past is Possible Even When Prediction of the Future is Impossible”, in Science, Vol. 130, No. 3374, 28 August, 1959, pp. 477–482. [URI].
Lecture Four (Wednesday 30 January)
Lecture Five (Monday 4 February)
Salmon, Wesley C. 1989. “Four Decades of Scientific Explanation”, in Philip Kitcher and Wesley Salmon (Eds), Scientific Explanation, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 13, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 3-219. [§1 PDF] [§2 PDF] [§3 PDF] [§4 PDF] [Notes and Bibliography PDF]
Sections §2.4–§3.1 to be read for this class (§3.2 is optional).
Lecture Six (Wednesday 6 February)
Lecture Seven (Monday 11 February)
Lecture Eight (Wednesday 13 February)
Lecture Nine (Monday 18 February)
Lecture Ten (Wednesday 20 February)
Lecture Eleven (Monday 25 February)
Schaffer, Jonathan. 2008. “Causation and Laws of Nature: Reductionism”, in Theodore Sider and John Hawthorne and Dean W. Zimmerman (Eds), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics, Blackwell, Malden MA, 2008. [PDF]
Lecture Twelve (Wednesday 27 February)
It is pp. 365–368 that is relevant to our discussion.
Lecture Thirteen (Monday 3 March)
Lecture Fourteen (Wednesday 5 March)
Lecture Fifteen (Monday 17 March)
Lecture Sixteen (Wednesday 19 March)
§5 is optional.
Lecture Seventeen (Monday 24 March)
Giere, Ronald N.. 1995. “The Skeptical Perspective: Science Without Laws of Nature”, in Friedel Weinert (Ed), Laws of Nature: Essays on the Philosophical, Scientific and Historical Dimensions, de Gruyter, Berlin, 1995, pp. 120–138. [PDF]
Lecture Eighteen (Wednesday 26 March)
Beatty, John.. 1995. “The Evolutionary Contingency Thesis”, in Gereon Wolters and James G. Lennox (Eds), Concepts, Theories, and Rationality in the Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1995, pp. 45–81. [PDF]
Sober, Elliott. 1997. “Two Outbreaks of Lawlessness in Recent Philosophy of Biology”, in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 64, No. 4, December 1997, Supplement, Proceedings of the 1996 Biennial Meetings of the Philosophy of Science Association, Part II: Symposia Papers, pp. S458– S467. [URI]
Lecture Nineteen (Monday 1 April)
Maxwell, Grover. 1962. “The Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities”, in Herbert Feigl and Grover Maxwell (Eds), Scientific Explanation, Space, and Time, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 3, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1962, pp. 3–15. [PDF]
Devitt, Michael. 2005. “Scientific Realism”, in Frank Jackson and Michael Smith (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005, pp. 767– 791. [PDF]
Lecture Twenty (Wednesday 3 April)
Musgrave, Alan. 1985. “Realism versus Constructive Empiricism”, in Paul M. Churchland and Clifford A. Hooker (Eds), Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism, With a Reply from Bas C. van Fraassen, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1985, pp. 118– 131. [PDF]
Lecture Twenty One (Monday 8 April)
Lecture Twenty One (Wednesday 10 April)
Lecture Twenty Three (Monday 15 April)
Lecture Twenty Four (Wednesday 17 April)
Lecture Twenty Five (Monday 21 April)
Lecture Twenty Six (Wednesday 23 April)
Psillos, Stathis. 2006. “Thinking About the Ultimate Argument for Realism”, in Colin Cheyne and John Worrall (Eds), Rationality and Reality: Conversations with Alan Musgrave, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Vol. 20, Springer, Dordrecht, 2006, pp. 133–156. [PDF]
Lecture Twenty Seven (Monday 28 April)
Lecture Twenty Eight (Wednesday 30 April)
No reading for today. We'll have a general discussion and recap of the course. Those wishing to submit writing summaries—please write to me telling me what you liked and what you didn't like about the course.
Updated: 21 April 2008