Advanced Introduction to 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.
|PHIL-GA 1104||5 Washington Place 202||Fridays, 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.
- Twelve 1–2 page weekly reading summaries.
- One research paper.
|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)
- Hempel, Carl Gustav. 1965. “Aspects of Scientific Explanation”, in Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science, Free Press, New York, pp. 331–496. URI: http://goo.gl/UqV54C (Read §§1–2)
- Woodward, James. 2003. “Causal Explanation: Background and Criticism”, in Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 152–186. URI: http://goo.gl/qaAneX
Meeting Three: Causal Theories of Explanation (Friday 19 September)
- Lewis, David. 1986. “Causal Explanation”, in Philosophical Papers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, Vol. II, pp. 214–240. URI: http://doi.org/10.1093/0195036468.003.0007. URI: http://goo.gl/kavvu3
- Sober, Elliott. 1983. “Equilibrium Explanation”, in Philosophical Studies, Vol. 43, No. 2, March, pp. 201–210. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00372383.
- Skow, Brad. 2014. “Are There Non-Causal Explanations (of Particular Events)?”, in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 65, No. 3, September, pp. 445–467. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axs047.
Meeting Four: Counterfactual Theories of Explanation (Friday 26 September)
- Woodward, James and Hitchcock, Christopher. 2003. “Explanatory Generalizations, Part I: A Counterfactual Account”, in Noûs, Vol. 37, No. 1, March, pp. 1–24. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0068.00426.
- Woodward, James and Hitchcock, Christopher. 2003. “Explanatory Generalizations, Part II: Plumbing Explanatory Depth”, in Noûs, Vol. 37, No. 2, June, pp. 181–199. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0068.00435.
- Skow, Brad. 2014. “An Evaluation of Woodward’s Theory of Causal Explanation”. Unpublished manuscript. URI: http://goo.gl/iMRzQc
Meeting Five: Theories of Explanatory Depth (Friday 3 October)
- Weslake, Brad. 2010. “Explanatory Depth”, in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 77, No. 2, April, pp. 273–294. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/651316.
- Franklin-Hall, Laura. forthcoming. “High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’”, in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. URI: http://goo.gl/ZkN2pw
Section II: Laws
Meeting Six: Nomic Fundamentalism (Friday 10 October)
- Cartwright, Nancy. 1994. “Fundamentalism vs. the Patchwork of Laws”, in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 94, No. 1, June, pp. 279–292. URI: https://doi.org/10.1093/aristotelian/94.1.279.
- Sklar, Lawrence. 2003. “Dappled Theories in a Uniform World”, in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 70, No. 2, April, pp. 424–441. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/375476.
Meeting Seven: Humean Theories of Laws (Friday 17 October)
- Loewer, Barry. 1996. “Humean Supervenience”, in Philosophical Topics, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 101–127. URI: http://goo.gl/lyeH6d
- Hall, Ned. 2009. “Humean Reductionism About Laws of Nature”. Unpublished manuscript..
Optional Meeting: Strevens on Explanation (Tuesday 21 October, 1–3pm)
- Strevens, Michael. 2004. “The Causal and Unification Approaches to Explanation Unified—Causally”, in Noûs, Vol. 38, No. 1, March, pp. 154–176. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0068.2004.00466.x.
- Strevens, Michael. 2013. “No Understanding without Explanation”, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Vol. 44, No. 3, September, pp. 510–515. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.12.005.
- Extracts from Depth:
- On equilibrium explanation: http://goo.gl/GXf0Iw
- On abstraction: http://goo.gl/Wh1yiu
- A fuller presentation of the kairetic account (optional): http://goo.gl/QQC2jZ
No Class Friday 24 October
Meeting Eight: Primitivist Theories of Laws (Friday 31 October)
- Maudlin, Tim. 2007. “A Modest Proposal Concerning Laws, Counterfactuals, and Explanations”, in The Metaphysics Within Physics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 5–49. URI: http://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199218219.003.0002. URI: http://goo.gl/LGgTCp
- Hildebrand, Tyler. 2013. “Can Primitive Laws Explain?”, in Philosophers’ Imprint, Vol. 13, No. 15, July, pp. 1–15. URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3521354.0013.015.
Section III: Causation
Meeting Nine: Methodology (Friday 7 November)
- Hall, Ned and Paul, L. A. 2013. Causation: A User’s Guide, Oxford University Press, Oxford, §§1–2.
Meeting Ten: Preemption (Friday 14 November)
- Hall, Ned and Paul, L. A. 2013. Causation: A User’s Guide, Oxford University Press, Oxford, §§3.1–3.4.
No Classes Friday 21 November and Friday 28 November
Meeting Eleven: Overdetermination and Omissions (Friday 5 December)
- Hall, Ned and Paul, L. A. 2013. Causation: A User’s Guide, Oxford University Press, Oxford, §§3.5–4.5.
Meeting Twelve: Transitivity (Friday 12 December)
- Hall, Ned and Paul, L. A. 2013. Causation: A User’s Guide, Oxford University Press, Oxford, §§5–6.
Updated: 5 November 2014