This course serves as an introduction to contemporary philosophy of science and will have a survey format (that is, we’ll try to get a feel for the “landscape”). Philosophy of science is concerned generally with what makes science a distinctive enterprise and what makes the claims of science and the activities of scientists epistemically respectable. Attempts to address these issues have tended to focus attention on a few key concepts, which we will discuss and analyze throughout the term. Topics will include explanation, hypothesis confirmation and the nature of evidence, theory development, and issues concerning theory interpretation, e.g. realism/anti-realism debates. Where possible, these topics will be illustrated through contemporary and historical episodes of actual scientific practice. Classes will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. Students will be required to write several short papers aimed, first and foremost, at clear, concise explication of the philosophical issues. In effect, students will be introduced to both the "content" and the "methods" of contemporary philosophy of science.
Recommended: PHIL 120 or PHIL 160; prerequisite: one PHIL course.
TEXT: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn.