PHIL 155 - The Nature of Science
Section: 001
Term: WN 2013
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course will offer an introduction to some central questions in the Philosophy of Science. We will begin by asking some general questions about scientific methodology,

  • What is it?
  • What distinguishes it from psuedo-scientific methodologies?
  • Should we believe that scientific methodology will lead us toward truth? If so, why?
  • How does evidence support or confirm a scientific theory?
  • What can science teach us about the nature of reality, and how can it teach us this?
  • In particular, does mature micro-physics give us reason to believe that the entities posited by its theories really exist?
  • If the terms from our theories refer to entities out in the world, how do they refer to these entities?

We will then shift gears a bit, after the midterm, and look at some questions about the metaphysical status of some concepts which appear regularly in scientific practice: explanation, laws, dispositions, causation, and chance. During this section of the course, we will be considering questions such as

  • What is it for something to be a law of nature?
  • In virtue of what do some facts explain other facts?
  • What is a chance? When I say that the chance that the coin lands heads in 1/2, what do I mean?
  • What is it for two events to be causally related?
  • What makes claims about what would have happened in certain circumstances true or false?
  • What makes claims about object's dispositions true or false?

Intended Audience:

The course will not presuppose any previous exposure to philosophy.

PHIL 155 - The Nature of Science
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
1Fr or So
MW 8:30AM - 10:00AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780136638230
Philosophy of natural science, Author: Hempel, Carl G. (Carl Gustav), 1905-1997., Publisher: Prentice-Hall 1966
ISBN: 9780415221566
Understanding philosophy of science, Author: Ladyman, James, 1969-, Publisher: Routledge 2002
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