PHIL 155 - The Nature of Science
Fall 2016, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Have you have ever picked up a newspaper and come across a claim that says something like "get in shape by eating organic chocolate" only to be followed by a claim like "avoid eating chocolate to stay in shape" and wondered, "what gives"? If yes, then this class is for you. More formally, PHIL 155 will be an introduction to modern scientific method, with an emphasis on how we gain knowledge from empirical observations. This class has two main goals. The first is to provide a broad overview of some of the main issues in the methodology of science, including the character of scientific reasoning, the empirical method, the nature of observation in science, the foundations of statistical inference, theory choice and, (time permitting) what distinguishes science from non-science. The second goal of the course is to help students sharpen their critical reasoning skills and statistical literacy.

Course Requirements:

Grades will be based on homework assignments, a short paper, and a final exam. The emphasis will be on problem solving/ critical thinking rather than on developing longer philosophical writing (this is a valuable tool as well, but will not be the focus of this class).

Intended Audience:

PHIL 155 is intended as an introductory class and I will not presume any background knowledge. However, you should be willing (and ideally excited) to learn about the fundamentals of probability and statistics, as this is after all the language of modern scientific inference. (note: you should NOT be discouraged from taking this class if you have not taken any mathematics recently!)

Class Format:

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PHIL 155 - The Nature of Science
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (LEC)
 In Person
1Y1 or Y2
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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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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