PHIL 209
Philosophy of Science Spring 2022
Division II
Cross-listed STS 209 / PHIL 209

Class Details

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 in a cumulative way. The course will begin with the “received view” of science, advanced by logical empiricists, which assumes the objectivity and the rationality of science and argues that induction is the main scientific method. 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 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 about proper approaches to the study of science, which came to be known as “the science wars.”
The Class: Format: seminar; short lecture component in each class
Limit: 19
Expected: 10-15
Class#: 3552
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class attendance, preparedness and participation; two short assignments; three five pages long papers, the last of which will be the final paper, due a week after the end of classes
Prerequisites: one PHIL course, or two STS courses, or declared major in a natural science, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors and prospective majors, then Div III majors.
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
STS 209 Division II PHIL 209 Division II
Attributes: COGS Related Courses
HSCI Interdepartmental Electives
PHIL Contemp Metaphysics + Epistemology Courses

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