Science purports to provide us with our best methods for gaining knowledge about the world---the goal of this course is to critically evaluate those methods. We will do so by studying actual scientific practice in the history of science and discussing the many philosophical issues that arise along the way. Our survey of the history of science will touch upon physics and astronomy, chemistry, the earth sciences, and evolutionary biology and genetics from the enlightenment through the 20th century. This will provide material to think about the following questions. To what extent is science rational or objective? How do social factors influence the development of science? Should we believe our current scientific theories to be accurate descriptions of even unobservable phenomena? Specific topics will include: the relation of science with religion, race, gender, and ideologies; the relation of science with technology and society; and the nature of scientific knowledge.
TEXT: Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey, Peter J. Bowler and Iwan Rhys Morus.