Philosophy 230 - Philosophy of Science
1:00-2:00 MWF, MI 209
D. Vessey x2146
Office Hours: 207 MI
MW 10:00-11:00, 2:00-3:00
Th 12:00-3:00 and by appointment
Rothbart, Science, Reason and Reality
Cohen, Birth of the New Physics
Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory
Various photocopied readings
This course focuses on some of the main issues in contemporary philosophy of science. The course is divided into three parts. In the first part we will be exploring the "micro" issues of philosophy of science. We will consider the nature of scientific claims in an attempt to understand what (if anything) makes an explanation a scientific explanation and what are the proper references of theoretical terms. In the second part of the course we will be considering the nature of scientific practice in an attempt to understand if science progresses, if the sciences are reducible to one another, if any historical/social influences undermine science's claims to truth, and if science is morally neutral. As historical background we will read a history of the scientific revolution: Birth of the New Physics. Although there are many related issues in the social sciences and mathematics, we will focus exclusively on the natural sciences. In the last part, we will be reading papers on topics of interest to members of the class written by members of the class.
This will be a discussion based course with lectures filling in the background necessary for the evaluation of the readings. Except for the Cohen book, we will be reading an article a day and the focus will be on understanding and evaluating the argument. Every week everyone in class must turn in a "philosophy lab report" which includes a thesis statement, definition of main terms, one page (no shorter, no longer) complete summary of the reading, and a presentation of an alternate plausible view. (Everyone will be assigned a day of the week.) We will begin each class discussion by comparing the views presented in the "lab reports." These will be collected and graded A, B C, F. Since they are for the discussion on that day, they will not be collected late. In addition to the weekly short assignments, there will be a larger writing assignment due soon after Thanksgiving Break. For this paper everyone will pick a issue in philosophy of science of particular interest to him/her. In keeping with the emphasis on discussion, we will read and discuss these papers as a group for the last two weeks of the course. The topic, outline and preliminary bibliography of the paper is due at fall break; a revision of the paper based on the class comments is due at the time of the final exam. Thursdays from 12-1 will be special office hours reserved for this class. For some of the Thursdays, there will be Real Audio listening assigned, however we will rarely meet Thursdays. The typo policy-one grade down for every four typos (grammatical errors, spelling errors, improper use of gendered pronouns, or improper referencing quotations)-will apply to lab reports, the presentation draft of the final paper and the final draft of the final paper. There will be no exams.
Lab Reports: 50%
Presentation Draft Final Paper: 15%
Final Paper: 25%
1. Wed, Aug. 30 Introduction
2. Thurs. Aug 31 McMullin - "The Goals of Natural Science" (Handout)
3. Fri, Sept. 1 McMullin: "Alternative Approaches to the Philosophy of Science" (Handout)
Micro Philosophy of Science
Is there something unique about scientific explanation?
Does science explain, or does it merely describe?
Is there any secure basis for future expectations, or is it just a matter of crossing our fingers and hoping?
Do the facts dictate our theories, or do they merely not contradict them?
Left/Right, up/Down, rest/moving, present/past-are they real properties of real objects?
Do scientific theories tell us about reality, or are they simply models?
4. Mon, Sept. 4 Hempel , "Laws and their Role in Scientific Explanation" Rothbart pp. 123-141
5. Wed, Sept. 6 Salmon, "Why ask 'Why'?" Rothbart pp. 187-204
Thurs. Sept 7 Real Audio Assignment http://realserver.bu.edu:8080/ramgen/w/b/wbur/connection/audio/2000/07/con0727a.rm
6. Fri, Sept. 8 van Frassen, "The Pragmatics of Explanation" (Handout)
7. Mon, Sept. 11 Sober, "Testability"
*8. Wed, Sept. 13 Philosophy and Evolution http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil.html
Thursday: Science Friday Real Audio (your choice) http://www.sciencefriday.com/
9. Fri, Sept. 15 VanFrassen, "Arguments Concerning Scientific Realism"Rothbart pp. 402-412
10. Mon, Sept. 18 McMullen, "A
Case for Scientific Realism" Rothbart, 440-464
11. Wed, Sept. 20 Hacking, "Experimentation and Scientific Realism" Rothbart pp. 465-474
12. Fri, Sept. 22 Fine, "And Not Anti-Realism Either"; (Handout)"NOA" (Handout)
Case Study: The Birth of a New
*13. Mon, Sept. 25 Cohen, The
Birth of a New Physics pp. 3-24
*14. Wed, Sept. 27 Cohen, The Birth of a New Physics pp. 25-80
*15. Fri, Sept. 29 Cohen, The Birth of a New Physics pp. 81-126, 185-217
Macro-Philosophy of Science
How do scientists go about selecting among rival theories? How should they? Is it theories they select among, or research programs, or "paradigms"?
Are the factors in theory choice objective and independent of cultural, historical or individual subjective factors? If they do affect theory choice, can science still be considered as a search for truth, or is it merely a matter of consensus, or of power?
How should scientific revolutions affect our view of science?
Should we expect that all scientific theories are ultimately explainable in terms of particle physics?
*16. Mon, Oct. 2 Cohen: The
Birth of a New Physics pp. 127-184
17. Wed, Oct. 4 Weinberg, "Tales of Theory and Experiment" Dreams of a Final Theory, pp. 90-131
Thurs. Oct 5 Science Friday Real Audio:http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/1996/May/hour2_053196.html
18. Fri, Oct. 6 Hume , "Skeptical
Doubts Concerning the Operations of the Understanding" Rothbart, pp. 7-14
19. Mon, Oct. 9 Duhem, "Physical
Theory and Experiment" (Handout)
20. Wed, Oct. 11 McMullin: "The Shaping of Scientific Rationality: Construction and Constraint" (Handout)
21. Fri, Oct. 13 Popper, "Science: Conjecture and Refutations" Rothbart pp. 35-58
Science Friday Real Audio over break:
22. Mon, Oct. 23 Kuhn, "Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice" Rothbart pp. 260-273
23. Wed, Oct. 25 Suppe, "What's Wrong with the Received View of the Structure of Scientific Theories?" Rothbart, pp. 101-114
24. Fri, Oct. 27 Kuhn, from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Rothbart 238-159 "The Function of Dogma in Scientific Research" (Handout)
25. Mon, Oct. 30 Lauden, "Dissecting the Holist Picture of Scientific Change" Rothbart pp. 274-299
26. Wed, Nov. 1 Popper, "The Rationality of Scientific Revolutions" Rothbart pp. 300-317
Thurs Nov. 2 Science Friday Real
27. Fri, Nov. 3 McMullin, "The Social Dimensions of Science" (Handout)
28. Mon, Nov. 6 Keller "Gender and Science" (Handout)
29. Wed, Nov. 8 Longino, "Essential Tensions, Phase Two-Feminist, Philosophical and the Social Studies of Science." (Handout)
Thurs. Nov 9 Science Friday Real Audio
30. Fri, Nov. 10 Okruhlik, "Gender and the Biological Sciences" (Handout)
31. Mon, Nov. 13 Kitcher, "1953 and All That: A Tale of Two Sciences" (Handout)
32. Wed, Nov. 15 Weinberg, "Prologue", "Two Cheers for Reductionism" Dreams of a Final Theory, pp. 3-18; 51-64
*33. Thurs, Nov. 16 Weinberg, "On
a Piece of Chalk", "Quantum Mechanics and its Discontents." Dreams
of a Final Theory, pp. 19-50; 65-89
*34. Mon, Nov. 20 Weinberg, "Against Philosophy", "What About God?" Dreams of a Final Theory, pp. 166-190; 241-261
Handout, NYTimes Interview
*35. Wed, Nov. 22 Penslar "The Professional Scientist"
*36. Mon, Nov. 27 The Morality of Data Use
*37. Wed, Nov. 29 Papers Due
*38. Thrs. Nov. 30 Presentations
*39. Fri. Dec. 1 Presentations
*40. Mon, Dec. 4 Presentations
*41. Wed, Dec. 6 Presentations
*42. Thurs, Dec. 7 Presentations
*43. Fri, Dec. 8 Presentations
*44. Mon, Dec. 11 Presentations
*45. Wed, Dec. 13 Conclusions and Evaluations
FINAL EXAM Final Paper Due