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Unit information: Introduction to the Philosophy of Science in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
Unit code PHIL10015
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Grose
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

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 cummulative process or do so-called scientific evolutions show that it is discontinuous? Is the process by which scientific theories become accepted a rational one?

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and discuss key debates within the philosophy of science. Topics include Scientific Confirmation, Explanation, Scientific Revolutions, Probability and Bayesian approaches, Laws, Realism.
  2. Have a familiarity with the key literature on these debates.
  3. Critically assess arguments made in the relevant philosophical literature.
  4. Explain, in a written argument, the strengths and weaknesses of positions taken within these debates.

Teaching Information

11 lectures

Assessment Information

Summative: one 2-hour unseen examination designed to test intended learning outcomes (1)-(4).

Reading and References

Key reading:

Samir Okasha Introduction to Philosophy of Science

Alexander Bird and James Ladyman (eds) Arguing About Science