The aim of this course is to expose
students to the philosophical issues, problems and foundations of the natural
sciences. The questions that we will address during the course of the
semester include the following:
- What is the nature of science,
and how does it differ from pseudo-science?
- To what degree is scientific
objectivity possible? To what degree do values inform scientific research?
- What allows us to say that a
theory is confirmed or disconfirmed, supported or unsupported? What
counts as relevant evidence?
- To what extent are scientific
theories underdetermined by the evidence?
- To what extent are observations
- What, in general, is the nature
of scientific explanation and prediction?
- Is it (or should it be) the
goal of science to give us 'true picture' of the world? Or is our
cognitive nature such that we will never get to the 'things in themselves'?
- What is the ontological status
of theoretical entities?
- What is a 'law of nature'?
- Are there natural kinds?
- What does it mean to say that
one scientific theory reduces to another? How is it possible to talk
about 'levels' of explanation?