PHIL 155 - The Nature of Science
Section: 001
Term: FA 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 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)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0192802836
Philosophy of science, Author: Samir Okasha., Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press 2002
Other Textbook Editions OK.
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.

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