PHIL 209 Philosophy of Science

Last offered Fall 2013

It is a generally held belief, in our time and culture, that science is the best source of our knowledge of the world, and of ourselves. The aim of this course is to examine the origins, grounds, and nature of this belief. We will analyze and discuss various accounts of scientific method, structure and justification of scientific theories, scientific choice, change, and the idea that scientific knowledge is progressive. The course will begin with the "received view" of science, advanced by logical empiricists, which assumes the objectivity and the rationality of science. We will then discuss philosophies of science which emerged out of various criticisms of this view - especially those of Popper, Lakatos, Kuhn and Feyerabend - and the challenges to the assumptions of scientific objectivity and rationality their works provoked. This discussion will naturally lead us to the relativist and social-constructivist views developed within contemporary science studies. Finally, we will analyze the current debate about cognitive credentials of science and proper approach to the study of science, which came to be known as "the science wars."
Class Format: seminar with a short lecture component in each class
Requirements/Evaluation: class attendance, preparedness and participation; three short assignments; three 5 pages long papers, the last of which will be the final paper, due a week after the end of classes
Additional Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: one PHIL course, or declared major in a natural science, or consent of the instructor
Enrollment Preference: Philosophy majors and prospective majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: COGS Related Courses, HSCI Interdepartmental Electives,PHIL Contemp Metaphysics & Epistemology Courses,SCST Elective Courses
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 10-15
Class Number: 1393
PHIL 209 SEM Philosophy of Science Division 2: Social Studies Bojana Mladenovic
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