Advanced Introduction to Philosophy of Science

Fall 2014

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 11045 Washington Place 202Fridays, 11:00am to 1:00pm




The course will cover three central topics in general philosophy of science: explanation, laws and causation. Topics may include: causal and non-causal theories of explanation; whether there are non-causal explanations of particular facts; the relationship between fundamental and non-fundamental explanations; theories of explanatory depth; whether fundamental laws have universal scope; Humean and non-Humean theories of laws; regularity and counterfactual theories of causation; causal models and their limitations.



Due dates:

Reading Summaries: At each associated class.
Research Paper: Monday 15 December


Meeting One: Introductory Discussion (Friday 5 September)

Section I: Explanation

Meeting Two: Nomological Theories of Explanation (Friday 12 September)

Meeting Three: Causal Theories of Explanation (Friday 19 September)

Meeting Four: Counterfactual Theories of Explanation (Friday 26 September)

Meeting Five: Theories of Explanatory Depth (Friday 3 October)

Section II: Laws

Meeting Six: Nomic Fundamentalism (Friday 10 October)

Meeting Seven: Humean Theories of Laws (Friday 17 October)

Optional Meeting: Strevens on Explanation (Tuesday 21 October, 1–3pm)

No Class Friday 24 October

Meeting Eight: Primitivist Theories of Laws (Friday 31 October)

Section III: Causation

Meeting Nine: Methodology (Friday 7 November)

Meeting Ten: Preemption (Friday 14 November)

No Classes Friday 21 November and Friday 28 November

Meeting Eleven: Overdetermination and Omissions (Friday 5 December)

Meeting Twelve: Transitivity (Friday 12 December)

Updated: 5 November 2014