PHIL 371: Philosophy of the Natural Sciences

PHIL 371-001: Philosophy of Natural Sciences
(Spring 2024)

12:00 PM to 01:15 PM MW

Krug Hall 5

View in the schedule of classes

Section Information for Spring 2024

This course examines a range of questions and contested issues in modern philosophy of science. It
takes as its starting point Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (SSR), which is one of
the most important and influential scholarly works of the twentieth century. This book, first published
in 1962, transformed the philosophy of science (and many other areas as well) to such an extent that it
is difficult to understand the current debates in the field without it.
The first half of the course will be devoted to a close reading and in-depth analysis of SSR, as well as to
a consideration of the subsequent revisions that Kuhn made to his ideas later in his life. The second half
of the course will examine a wide range of responses to Kuhn’s work by some of the most distinguished
philosophers of science of the last seventy years.
Some of the topics we will address in this course include the problem of demarcating science from
pseudoscience, the rationality of scientific change, the role of values and objectivity in theory choice,
the feminist critique of science, the relationship between scientific knowledge and truth, and the
question of scientific progress. We will do all of this by engaging directly with the primary literature.
Our emphasis will be on depth rather than breadth; we will focus on a relatively small number of
problems and closely examine them over numerous classes.


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

In-depth examination of selected topics and debates in contemporary philosophy of science. Studies the aims and methodology of science through the work of key thinkers in the field. Questions of concern may include: the demarcation of science from pseudo-science; the rationality of scientific change; problems of induction, prediction and evidence; objectivity, values and scientific practice; the unity of science; and the relation between scientific knowledge and truth. Limited to three attempts.
Recommended Prerequisite: PHIL 271 or permission of instructor.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.