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Unit information: Philosophy of Natural and Social Science in 2015/16

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Unit name Philosophy of Natural and Social Science
Unit code PHIL30086
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Grose
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is available for IBAMH students only.

This unit introduces some of the most important issues in the philosophy of science to those with no prior knowledge of philosophy (and very little scientific knowledge will be necessary). Issues that will be addressed include: Is there a single scientific method in common to all the physical and social sciences? What is the difference between a science (such as physics) and a so-called pseudo-science (such as homeopathy)? Is the progress of science a cumulative process or do so-called scientific revolutions show that it is discontinuous? Is the process by which scientific theories become accepted a rational one? Should we be committed to believing that our best theories give a true description of the world?

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be expected to be able to:

  • Identify and discuss key debates within the philosophy of natural and/or social science. Topics include Scientific Confirmation, Explanation, Underdetermination, Scientific Revolutions, Probability and Bayesian approaches, Laws, Realism.
  • Critically assess arguments made in the relevant philosophical literature.
  • Explain, in a written argument, the strengths and weaknesses of positions taken within these debates.
  • Communicate these arguments with clear, fluent writing.
  • Develop and demonstrate research skills.

Teaching Information

1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar per week

Assessment Information

Summative: One 3 hour exam and one formative essay

Reading and References

Key Reading:

Alexander Bird and James Ladyman (eds) Arguing About Science