As the sub-title of the course suggests ("Why do we believe in quarks, evolution, and other crazy things?"), a central focus of research in philosophy of science concerns /science and evidence/: What is the nature, and what are the strengths and/or weaknesses, of the evidence that supports scientific hypotheses, theories, methods, and research? Is certainty possible? Is it possible that many or all of the theories currently accepted in the sciences will be replaced in the future by theories thought to be better? What is the evidence for unobservable objects (sub-atomic particles) and unobservable events (e.g., geological or evolutionary or cosmological events that occurred in the past)? How we answer these and related questions shape our understanding of scientific objectivity, scientific methods, what (if anything) distinguishes science from other sets of practices or institutions (e.g., literary theory, classics, politics, religion and so forth), and the way we view science's cognitive authority.
To explore them, this course uses examples from historical and contemporary science, and accounts offered by scientists and philosophers of what science is, in what respects it is successful, the limits of its success, and related topics. [Optional writing credit & linked with ENGL 198K.]
TEXT: No Textbook Required - assigned course pack.