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 beliefs about why the sciences are 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 beliefs about the apparent successes of the sciences. In this class, we’ll look at arguments for or against our beliefs about the successes of the sciences by studying different philosophical accounts of the aims, methodology, and structure of scientific knowledge.
Our 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 might play in scientific practice.