Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 240

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Philosophy of Science

Catalog Description:

240 - Philosophy of Science - 3 S.H.

Examines basic issues in the philosophy and foundations of science, such as the testing of hypotheses, the construction and confirmation of theories, the nature of scientific explanation and the concept of laws of nature. The course also investigates the distinction between science and pseudoscience, and studies to what extent each has influenced recent public policy, social debates, and school curricula. Offered each year.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.

Department Contact Person for this course: Ed Slowik

Email: eslowik@winona.edu

Unity and Diversity—Humanities

  

PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

PHIL 240

University Studies—Humanities

 

The purpose of Humanities...to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life....

Philosophy of Science 240 introduces students to the philosophy of science. The course investigates theories of science within the context of several philosophical problems: namely, the nature of the scientific method, the role of explanation and laws, observation and theory, confirmation, the demarcation between science and nonscience, the ontological status of theoretical entities, and the roles of values, culture, and gender in science. Special emphasis will be placed on the historical development of twentieth century philosophies of physical science. The course also investigates the philosophical problems associated with the relationship between science and religion.

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

1. Identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline.

Some of the specific topics covered in Philosophy of Science 240 are listed above, but all of the various problems explored in the class provide the student with a thorough grounding in the fundamental conceptual elements and assumptions that comprise the philosophy of science. Some of the questions addressed include: Are theoretical entities "real" objects or processes, or are they merely "useful fictions" that appear in scientific theories and function only as a means of organizing and predicting observable phenomena? Can all successful scientific theories be reduced to more basic theories of science (e.g., chemistry to physics), or do some successful theories defy reduction in this manner? All topics covered in the course are in the Humanities discipline.

2. Understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influences perceptions and interpretations.

Philosophy of Science 240 explores scientific concepts from numerous perspectives, among which the social/cultural, gender, ethical, historical, and political, play important parts. All topics covered in Philosophy of Science are examined in this manner. For example, does gender bias the interpretation of scientific work? What does history tell us about the process of scientific theory formation and justification? Have social classes been important in the acceptance, or rejection, of alternative theories of science?

 3. Understand the role of critical analysis in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience.

Philosophy of Science 240 is devoted to the critical analysis of concepts and issues pertaining to all aspects of the scientific experience. Consequently, this course places at its very core the interpretation and evaluation of specific human thought systems, since science is expression, or product, of human experience. For example, with respect to the modern concept of a "scientific revolution": Were the Newtonian and Darwinian scientific revolutions made possible by the introduction of the Hypothtico-Deductive method, or the method of Scientific Induction, or by social/political changes in society at large? What are the important elements in the Logical Positivist's approach to nature as regards the overall method of conducting science? Critical analysis is thus applied to all topics in the course.

 

PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

PHIL 240

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies—Humanities

Sample Syllabus

PHILOSOPHY 240-01: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

Winona State University Fall 2000

MWF 11-11:50 AM 110 Minne

Instructor: Dr. Ed Slowik

Office: 325 Minne Hall

Phone: 457-5663/Office hours: MWF 12-1 PM, and 3-4 PM.

Required Texts:

R. Klee, Introduction to the Philosophy of Science: Cutting Nature at its Seems (Oxford).

T. Schick, Jr. (ed.), Readings in the Philosophy of Science (Mayfield)

Recommended Texts:

P. Kosso, Appearance and Reality (Oxford)

T. Schick & L. Vaughn, How To Think About Weird Things, 2nd ed. (Mayfield)

Course Description:

This course will introduce students to the philosophy of science, especially as it pertains to the physical sciences. We will investigate theories of science within the context of several philosophical problems: namely, the nature of the scientific method, the role of explanation and laws, observation and theory, confirmation, the demarcation between science and nonscience, the ontological status of theoretical entities, and the roles of values, culture, and gender in science. Special emphasis will be placed on the historical development of twentieth century philosophies of physical science. However, we will also investigate the vexed issue of the relationship between science and religion.

 

Requirements:

One in-class midterm (25%), in-class final (25%), a bibliography and outline of the term paper (10%), term paper (30%), and class participation and attendance (10%). The paper is 10-15 pages double-spaced, on a topic checked with the instructor. The due dates of the exams, paper, and bibliography, are provided below. More information on the paper assignment will be provided after the first few weeks of the semester. Although not required, I strongly encourage that you give me rough drafts of your paper, since it will greatly increase the chances of getting a good grade. The midterm and final are of the multiple-choice, true/false, and short answer type. There will be review days before each of the exams.

 Class Schedule:

Week 1: (Aug. 28, 30, Sept. 1) introduction, overview of history of science.

Week 2: (Sep. 6, 8) Schick: #1-6.

Week 3: (Sep. 11, 13, 15) Schick: #1-6 (cont.), #39-44.

Week 4: (Sep. 18, 20, 22) Schick: # 7, 8, 9, 22; Klee: chap. 2.

Week 5: (Sep. 25, 27, 29) Schick: #23, 24; Klee: chap. 3.

Week 6: (Oct. 2, 4, 6) Schick: #10, 11; Klee: chap. 4.

Week 7: (Oct. 11, 13) Schick: #17-21; Klee: chap. 5.

Week 8: (Oct. 16, 18, 20) extra-time, review, Midterm (Oct. 20).

Week 9: (Oct. 23, 25, 27) Schick: #12-16; Klee: chap. 6.

Week 10: (Oct. 30, Nov. 1, 3) Schick: #25-26; Klee: chap. 7.

Week 11: (Nov. 6, 8) Schick: #27-32; Klee: chap. 8-9.

Week 12: (Nov. 13, 15, 17) Schick: #27-32 (cont.), #33-38 (begin); Klee: chap. 10.

Week 13: (Nov. 21) Schick: #33-38 (cont.); Klee: chap. 10 (cont).

Week 14: (Nov. 27, 29, Dec. 1) Schick: #33-38 (cont.); Klee: chap. 10 (cont.); Paper outline and bibliography due (Nov. 27).

Week 15: (Dec. 4, 6, 8) Schick: #45-50; review

Papers due at scheduled time of final exams: Thursday, Dec. 14, 8-10 AM.

Course Outline

I. General Introduction: Basic Logic, Concepts

II. The Positivist Model of Scientific Theories

A. The Philosophy of Logical Positivism

B. The Observational/Theoretical Distinction

C. Correspondence Rules

D. Problem with Logical Positivism

III. The Underdetermination of Scientific Theories

A. The Quine-Duhem Thesis

B. Popperian Falsification

C. Underdetermination and Realism

IV. Reduction of scientific Theories

A. Nagel's Theory

B. Problems with Reduction

V. Explanation and Scientific Theories

A. The Deductive-Nomological Model

B. Problems with the D-N Model

VI. Kuhnian Philosophy of Science

A. Historicism in the Philosophy of Science

B. Kuhn's Theory

C. Kuhnian Philosophy of Science and Realism

VII. Social Constructivism

A. Social/Cultural Issues in Science

B. The Social Constructivist Theory of Science

C. Critical Analysis of Social Constructivism

VIII. Feminist Philosophy of Science

A. Gender Issues in Science

B. Feminist Theories of Science

C. Critical Analysis of Feminist Theories of Science

IX. Realism and Anti-Realism in the Philosophy of Science

A. The Convergence Argument for Realism

B. The Manipulability Argument for Realism

C. Arguments for Anti-Realism.

D. Conclusions: Realism, Objectivity, and Scientific Theories

All course activities and assignments simultaneously address all University Studies required course outcomes in Philosophy of Science 240 in the following ways:

The purpose of Humanities...to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life....

Philosophy of Science 240 introduces students to the philosophy of science. The course investigates theories of science within the context of several philosophical problems: namely, the nature of the scientific method, the role of explanation and laws, observation and theory, confirmation, the demarcation between science and nonscience, the ontological status of theoretical entities, and the roles of values, culture, and gender in science. Special emphasis will be placed on the historical development of twentieth century philosophies of physical science. However, the course also investigates the philosophical problems associated with the relationship between science and religion.

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

1. Identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline.

Some of the specific topics covered in Philosophy of Science 240 are listed above, but all of the various problems explored in the class provide the student with a thorough grounding in the fundamental conceptual elements and assumptions that comprise the philosophy of science. Some of the questions addressed include: Are theoretical entities "real" objects or processes, or are they merely "useful fictions" that appear in scientific theories and function only as a means of organizing and predicting observable phenomena? Can all successful scientific theories be reduced to more basic theories of science (e.g., chemistry to physics), or do some successful theories defy reduction in this manner? All topics covered in the course are in the Humanities discipline.

 

2. Understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influences perceptions and interpretations.

Philosophy of Science 240 explores scientific concepts from numerous perspectives, among which the social/cultural, gender, ethical, historical, and political, play important parts. All topics covered in Philosophy of Science are examined in this manner. For example, does gender bias the interpretation of scientific work? What does history tell us about the process of scientific theory formation and justification? Have social classes been important in the acceptance, or rejection, of alternative theories of science?

 

3. Understand the role of critical analysis in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience.

Philosophy of Science 240 is devoted to the critical analysis of concepts and issues pertaining to all aspects of the scientific experience. Consequently, this course places at its very core the interpretation and evaluation of specific human thought systems, since science is expression, or product, of human experience. For example, with respect to the modern concept of a "scientific revolution": Were the Newtonian and Darwinian scientific revolutions made possible by the introduction of the Hypothtico-Deductive method, or the method of Scientific Induction, or by social/political changes in society at large? What are the important elements in the Logical Positivist's approach to nature as regards the overall method of conducting science? Critical analysis is thus applied to all topics in the course.