What distinguishes creationism from evolutionary theory, or astrology from astronomy? Can we have good reason to believe that our current scientific theories represent the world "as it really is"? This course critically examines the most important attempts to describe the scientific method, to draw a line dividing science from non-science, and to justify the high status generally accorded to scientific knowledge. Views studied include Karl Popper's idea that scientific theories are falsifiable in principle, Thomas Kuhn's proposal that science consists of a series of paradigms separated by abrupt scientific revolutions, and claims by Feyerabend and others that there are no objective criteria by which science can be distinguished from pseudo-science. This unit of study also explores contemporary theories of evidence and explanation, the role of social values in science, sociological approaches to understanding science, and the nature of scientific change.
Three 1 hour lectures and one 1 hour tutorial per week.
2x1500 wd essays (50%) and 1x3000 wd essay (50%)
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 and Company.
24 credit points of Junior units of studyProhibitions