PHIL 155 - The Nature of Science
Fall 2013, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


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 introduces students to the history and philosophy of the natural sciences. During its first seven weeks, we examine two of great achievements in the history of physics: the Copernican Revolution in astronomy and Isaac Newton's codification of the laws of mechanics. We use this history to gain a broad philosophical understanding of the scientific enterprise as a whole.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • the nature of the ‘scientific method’
  • the process by which hypotheses are confirmed by empirical evidence
  • the use of statistical inference in science
  • the nature of scientific laws and their role in explanation
  • the procedures by which new concepts are introduced into scientific theories.

The last seven weeks are devoted to Darwin's theory of evolution and its implications for the relationship between science and religion. We will focus on the creationist/evolutionist debate about the teaching of biology in public schools. Our main goal will be to decide what qualifies some body of discourse as a ‘science’, and to see whether the theory of evolution or creationism (or both, or neither) fit the bill.

Course Requirements:

About 15 pages of reading will required BEFORE each class. Students will be asked to complete four short problem sets, write two 4-6 page papers, and take a midterm exam and a final.

Intended Audience:

No knowledge of physics or biology is presupposed and, while one will learn something about these subjects along the way, students should not expect to walk away with a deep knowledge of these areas. The focus will be on historical and methodological issues.

Class Format:

3 hrs lecture w/discussion per week


PHIL 155 - The Nature of Science
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for PHIL 155.001

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for PHIL 155 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)