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?
The course will not presuppose any previous exposure to philosophy.