Philosophy of Science

Fall 2023

Reconstruction of the Early Cretaceous paravian dinosaur, <em>Microraptor</em>

A reconstruction of the Early Cretaceous paravian dinosaur, Microraptor. Analysis of melanosomes from fossil samples reveals that its feathers were an iridescent black. From Li, Quanguo et al, “Reconstruction of Microraptor and the Evolution of Iridescent Plumage”, in Science, Vol 335, Issue 6073, pp. 1215-1219, 9 October 2012.


Course CodeLocation Times
PHIL-SHU 90567 West Yangsi Road, Room E204Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:45am—11:00am


NameEmailOfficeConsultation Times
Brad Weslakebrad.weslake@nyu.edu567 West Yangsi Road, Room W826By appointment


This class is an advanced introduction to the philosophy of science.


The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:

Attendance and participation: 10%
First Oral Exam: 15%
Second Oral Exam: 20%
Paper (Outline): 10%
Paper (Draft): 15%
Paper (Final): 30%

Assessment dates:

First Oral Exam: After 19 September
Second Oral Exam: After 24 October
Paper (Outline): Friday 17 November
Paper (Draft): Friday 1 December
Paper (Final): Friday 8 December


Lateness and Attendance

Students are required to attend all classes on time. Lateness will count against your attendance and participation grade. Students missing 4 classes will receive an attendance and participation grade of F. Students missing 6 classes will receive a final grade of F.


It is a condition on passing this course that students read and adhere to the NYU Shanghai policy on academic integrity as described in the current NYU Shanghai Academic Bulletin.

Course Materials

All notes, readings and assignments can be found on the course Brightspace site here.

Selected books are available on reserve in the library.


Meeting 1: Introductory Discussion (Tuesday 29 August)

Section I: Laws

Meeting 2: Against Fundamentalism (Thursday 31 August)

Meeting 3: For Fundamentalism (Tuesday 5 September)

Meeting 4: Regularities (Thursday 7 September)

Meeting 5: Necessities (Tuesday 12 September)

Meeting 6: Governing (Thursday 14 September)

Meeting 7: Review (Tuesday 19 September)

Section II: Explanation

Meeting 8: Nomological Theories (Thursday 21 September)

Meeting 9: Singular Causal Explanations (Tuesday 26 September)

Meeting 10: Causal Theories I (Thursday 28 September)

Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day Holiday: Fall Break

Meeting 11: Causal Theories II (Tuesday 10 October)

Meeting 12: Counterfactual Theories (Thursday 12 October)

Meeting 13: Explanatory Depth (Tuesday 17 October)

Meeting 14: Visit from Michael Strevens (Thursday 19 October)

Meeting 15: Review I (Tuesday 24 October)

Meeting 16: Review II (Thursday 26 October)

Section III: Values

Meeting 17: Free Inquiry I (Tuesday 31 October)

Meeting 18: Free Inquiry II (Thursday 2 November)

Meeting 19: Free Inquiry III (Tuesday 7 November)

Meeting 20: Amplified Inductive Risk (Thursday 9 November)

Meeting 21: Workshop: Writing Philosophy (Sunday 12 November)

Section IV: Replication

Meeting 22: The Replication Crisis (Tuesday 14 November)

Meeting 23: What is Replication? I (Thursday 16 November)

Meeting 24: What is Replication? II (Tuesday 21 November)

Thanksgiving Holiday

Section IV: Models

Meeting 25: (Tuesday 28 November)

Meeting 26: (Thursday 30 November)

Meeting 27: (Tuesday 5 December)

Meeting 28: (Thursday 7 December)

Updated: 20 November 2023