Most of us agree that scientific practice appears to result in some of our best and most secure knowledge about the world. When pressed about this belief, we can probably articulate a few intuitions about why the sciences are particularly successful in generating knowledge: The sciences follow a particular kind of method; they seem objective and value-free; and the sciences accurately describe real entities and real causal forces that exist in the world.
Philosophy of Science is the area of philosophy that attempts to flesh out and explore these intuitions about the apparent successes of the sciences. In this class, we’ll look at arguments for or against certain intuitions by studying different philosophical accounts of the aims, methodology, and the structure of scientific knowledge. Potential (but non-exhaustive) topics include: The Realism–Anti-Realism debate, the relationship between theory and observation, conceptions of scientific objectivity, the social aspects of scientific practice, and the role of non-epistemic values in scientific practice.
TEXTS: Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, Curd, Cover, and Pincock, eds.; Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, Peter Godfrey-Smith.