This is a general philosophy of science course, in which we will consider a variety of epistemological issues (concerning warranted belief and knowledge) and metaphysical issues (concerning what exists, what existing things are like, and how existing things are related) pertaining to scientific theory and methodology. We'll explore what counts as a scientific explanation, and consider the role various types of inferences (inductive, deductive, statistical and abductive) play in such explanations. We'll become acquainted with the historical motivations for attempts to distinguish between science and other disciplines, and with the empiricist's influential take(s) on how this could be done. Relatedly, we'll study several accounts of scientific theories, on which these are instruments for making predictions, realistic statements about the world, or social constructions, respectively; and we'll consider how these accounts bear on whether we can take scientific claims about unobservable entities at face value.
Finally, we'll consider the question of how entities in different sciences are related, and become acquainted with both reductive and non-reductive accounts of these relations. Requirements for the course include two midterms, one medium-length paper, and weekly one-page summaries of the assigned reading.