Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

Course Description

This course provides a basic introduction to some of the main philosophical questions concerning scientific knowledge and methodology. Questions examined will include: What is the nature of scientific theories and models? Do they represent true nature of the world, or are they just convenient tools for making predictions and developing technology? Is science always rational and objective? Can it be influenced by social and cultural factors? What do key scientific concepts such as explanations, causality and laws of nature mean? To answer these questions, we will first focus on influential philosophical accounts of scientific theories and theory change, including logical positivism, Popper's falsificationism, and Kuhn's theory of normal science and scientific revolutions. We will then examine the social structure of the science as well as challenges from fields such as the sociology of science, feminism, etc. Finally, we will look in more details at some specific concepts and problems, including scientific realism, the theory-ladeness of observation, scientific explanation, and Bayesianism. No prior experience in philosophy is required.

Course Details

  • Grading Basis: Letter Grade or Credit/No Credit
  • Intensive Studies: This course is offered as part of the Thinking About Thinking Intensive. See the Intensive Studies page for more information on how to receive an official Document of Completion.
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