HPSC2101 & HPSC2901 (advanced) - Introduction to Philosophy of Science: What Is This Thing Called Science?

Coordinator 2017

Prerequisites: 24 credit points of Junior units of study
This is a qualifying unit of study for History and Philosophy of Science Senior units of study
6 credit points
Classes: 2x1-hr lectures; 1x1-hr online study; and 1x1-hr tutorial per week
Practical Work:

Assessment: essays and online tasks

Philosophers of science aim to define what distinguishes creationism from evolutionary theory, or astrology from astronomy. They give reasons why we can believe that today's theories are improvements over those that preceded them and how we know that what we see and do in scientific practice reflects the nature of reality. This course critically examines the most important attempts to define the scientific method, to draw a line dividing science from non-science, and to justify the high status generally accorded to scientific knowledge. The philosophies of science studied include Karl Popper's idea that truly scientific theories are falsifiable, Thomas Kuhn's proposal that science consists of a series of paradigms separated by scientific revolutions; and Feyerabend's anarchist claim that there are no objective criteria by which science can be distinguished from pseudo-science. This unit of study also explores contemporary theories about the nature of science and explores ideas about the nature of the experimental method and concepts such as underdetermination, the nature of scientific explanation, theory confirmation, realism, the role of social values in science, sociological approaches to understanding science, and the nature of scientific change.


Textbook: Godfrey-Smith, P (2003). Theory and Reality. The University of Chicago Press. USA/ Curd, Cover and Pincock (2013). Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues (2nd edition). W. W. Norton & Company.