Philosophy of Science
Michael Faraday's diagram of magnetic lines of force, from his “Experimental Researches in Electricity”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 142, 1 January 1852, pp. 25–56.
|PHL 252, PHL 252W, PHL 452||Morey Hall 502||Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30pm to 1:45pm|
|Brad Weslakefirstname.lastname@example.org||520 Lattimore Hall||Mondays, 11AM–12PM|
This is a survey course in general philosophy of science, focussing on metaphysical questions concerning the nature of science. Our questions: Do scientific explanations work because they tell us about laws, or because they tell us about causes, or for some other reason? 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? The course may taken for upper level writing credit.
- Fifteen 1–2 page weekly reading summaries.
- Two 8–10 page research papers.
The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:
|First Research Paper:||35%|
|Second Research Paper:||50%|
Note: Graduate students or students enrolled for upper level writing credit will be required to write longer papers. Graduate students will also be required to do additional reading and meet for an additional discussion section.
|Reading Summaries:||At each associated class, with no exceptions|
|First Paper:||Wednesday 30 October||Questions [PDF]|
|Second Paper:||Monday 16 December||Questions [PDF]|
Paper guidelines [PDF]
Introductory Discussion (Wednesday 4 September)
Section I: Explanation
Meeting Two (Monday 9 September)
Read Sections §1–§2.
Meeting Three (Wednesday 11 September)
Meeting Four (Monday 16 September)
Meeting Five (Wednesday 18 September)
Woodward and Lewis, continued.
Meeting Six (Monday 23 September)
Meeting Seven (Wednesday 25 September)
Kitcher, Philip. 1989. “Explanatory Unification and the Causal Structure of the World”, in Philip Kitcher and Wesley Salmon (Eds), Scientific Explanation, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 13, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 410–505. [EXCERPTS PDF] [FULL PDF]
Excerpted in Balashov, Yuri and Alexander Rosenberg. 2002. Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings, Routledge, London, pp. 71–91. Excerpts are mandatory, full paper optional.
Meeting Eight (Monday 30 September)
Read Sections §8.5–§8.11.
Meeting Nine (Wednesday 2 October)
No Class (Monday 7 October)
Meeting Ten (Wednesday 9 October)
Meeting Eleven (Monday 14 October)
Woodward and Hitchcock continued
Reprinted in Jackson, Frank, Philip Pettit, and Michael Smith. 2004. Mind, Morality, and Explanation: Selected Collaborations, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 163–186.
Meeting Twelve (Wednesday 16 October)
Section II: Laws
Meeting Thirteen (Monday 21 October)
Reprinted in Papineau, David (Ed). 1996. The Philosophy of Science, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 314–326; and in Cartwright, Nancy. 1999. The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 23–34.
Meeting Fourteen (Wednesday 23 October)
Reprinted with a reply by Nancy Cartwright in Hartmann, Stephan, Carl Hoefer, and Luc Bovens (Eds). 2008. Nancy Cartwright's Philosophy of Science, Routledge, New York, pp. 307–323.
Meeting Fifteen (Monday 28 October)
Read Sections §5.1–§5.5.
Read Sections §1.1–§1.6.
Meeting Sixteen (Wednesday 30 October)
Read Sections §5.6–§5.7.
Reprinted in Carroll, John W (Ed). 2004. Readings on Laws of Nature, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, pp. 176–206.
Meeting Seventeen (Monday 4 November)
Meeting Eighteen (Wednesday 6 November)
Meeting Nineteen (Monday 11 November)
Meeting Twenty (Wednesday 13 November)
Reprinted in Carroll, John W (Ed). 2004. Readings on Laws of Nature, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, pp. 250–276.
Meeting Twenty One (Monday 18 November)
Carroll and Beebee continued. Listen to Beebee discuss laws of nature here: [MP3].
Meeting Twenty Two (Wednesday 20 November)
Meeting Twenty Three (Monday 25 November)
No Class (Wednesday 27 November)
Meeting Twenty Four (Monday 2 December)
Earman, John and John T. Roberts. 2005. “Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature Part II: The Epistemological Argument for Humean Supervenience”, in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 71, No. 2, September 2005, pp. 253–286. [URI]
Updated: 2 December 2013