Topics in the Philosophy of Science

Fall 2020

From Michael Faraday, Experimental Researches in Electricity

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.


Course CodeLocation Times
PHIL-GA 30095 Washington Place 302Mondays, 1:15pm to 3:15pm




This course will cover three central topics in general philosophy of science: explanation, laws and causation. The focus will be on how general issues intersect with some more applied topics in the particular sciences, with some candidates being: causal and non-causal explanation in evolutionary theory; explainability in artificial intelligence; explanation and understanding in climate modeling; the relationship between the idea that the dynamical laws of physics govern and the idea that they explain; and the relationship between the cognitive science of causal judgment and the metaphysics of causation. We will focus on the topics that those attending become most interested in.



Due dates:

Reading Summaries: The day before every class.
Research Paper: Monday 14 December


Meeting One: Introductory Discussion (Wednesday 9 September)

Meeting Two: (Monday 14 September)

Meeting Three: (Monday 21 September)

Meeting Four: (Monday 28 September)

Meeting Five: (Monday 5 October)

Meeting Six: (Monday 12 October)

Meeting Seven: (Monday 19 October)

Meeting Eight: (Monday 26 October)

Meeting Nine: (Monday 2 November)

Meeting Ten: (Monday 9 November)

Meeting Eleven: (Monday 16 November)

Meeting Twelve: (Monday 23 November)

Meeting Thirteen: (Monday 30 November)

Meeting Fourteen: (Monday 7 December)

Updated: 25 March 2020