Course Detail

Philosophy: Philosophy of Science

PHIL 112 OL1 (CRN: 60086)

3 Credit Hours

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About PHIL 112 OL1

Introduction to major philosophical problems raised by science. Typical topics: the nature of scientific inference, the structure of theories, causation, explanation, and scientific change. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or two courses in any natural science.


Michael Ashooh ()


Dates: June 16 - July 11, 2014 Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy;

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Section Description

This course is an introduction to topics in philosophy of science. It is a bit difficult to define philosophy of science. To be simplistic, it?s thinking philosophically about science. We could then move to the next obvious question: what is science? But then we would have begun some philosophy of science. The philosophy of science is best characterized by traditional types of questions and problems concerning science. The first, most basic question is: what is science? What makes the form of inquiry we call science distinct or unique? Is this form of inquiry the most rational or objective way to gain knowledge? How and why? What counts as evidence and how is it ?counted?? How does evidence prove or support a theory? And if it can?t, then what can prove or confirm a theory? Anything? What is a scientific theory? What is a law of nature? What is a scientific explanation? What makes them better than run of the mill explanations (or guesses)? Is the world really the way that science describes it to be? Are the entities that science posits real? The list of questions is quite long and leads to many others. We will spend out time working through a small fraction of them. It is difficult to define science, to explain how it functions and its role in our society, but it is obvious that it is an immensely important form of human inquiry ? a remarkable consequence of our opposable thumbs and highly developed brains. But understanding this form of human inquiry remains a curious challenge. A challenge that we will attempt in this class.

Section Expectation

Expectations Hours per day: You should expect to put about 3 hours of work into this course per day on average. This includes time to read the assignments, time to participate in the online portions of the course and time for other assignments. Some days may require more and some less, but the work requirements will be significant. Wiki Contribution: Everyone is required to make 10 Wiki contributions in this course. Instructions are given within the Wiki link in the navigation panel. If the concept of a WIki is unfamiliar to you, have a look at this link from the godfather of all wikis: Wikipedia. Here's a fun little video describing the basic idea of a wiki and how to make use of it. You'll have to use your imagination and creativity to apply this to our class. The Wiki is set up around defining and explaining core concepts and topics in the philosophy of science. I have listed 10 topics. Everyone will have to pick 1 topic as their main topic, for which they will be primarily responsible. Your other 9 contributions will be to other wikis or to your own, but you may make no more than 2 more contributions to your own wiki (or a total of three to your own). Your main contribution to your own wiki concept should be substantial. I expect your main contribution to be about 350-450 words. Your other contributions should average about 100 words each, but you may distribute that however you would like. In other words, more than 100 on some wikis, less on others. But the total for the other wikis should be around 1000 words. Thus your total word count contribution to the wiki should be at least 1350 words. Of course, you may contribute more than that too. There are deadlines in the modules specifying dates by which a certain number of contributions must be made. You will be marked off, if contributions happen after that date. I will post summary grades for the wiki posts after those deadlines. The wiki contributions should be an attempt to describe and explain the basic concepts, topics and principles that we will be discussing. The nature of the wiki format is somewhat informal, but you should use good grammar and writing. You should site material from the text or other sources. Remember that plagiarism of any sort will not be tolerated. I recommend that you write them into a word editor (e.g., MS Word) and then cut and paste to the journal section. The wiki access point is in the course panel to the left. Discussions Post Expectations: I expect discussion posts to be of good quality and thoughtful. Informal is fine, but just babbling on about nothing simply to complete the requirement will waste your time, your classmates time and my time. Thoughtful, substantive and short posts (about 150-200 words) are what I am looking for. Write in complete sentences and avoid web/text jargon (e.g., "LOL, OMG, etc"). Each response that you make to a classmates post must include one question for that classmate to answer that is either about the readings, other posts (classmates or your own or theirs) or the lectures. You will be graded according to the following criteria: Punctuality and relevance of the post (was it on time and related to the material?), Quality and thoughtfulness of the writing (was it well written and clear?), Relevance to other posts (Does it address other posts and raise thoughtful questions for classmates.) You must post twice for each module: one discussion post and one response to a classmates post. There are 11 Modules, so that makes 22 posts. However, you must post at least 25 total times for the course. That gives you 3 extra posts. With those remaining 3 posts, you must answer a classmates question to your post and/or ask another question of a classmate. There will be an overall discussion grade calculated at the end of the course based on the criteria specified.


Grades for the course will be calculated based on the following contributions: Four online "reading" quizzes: 20% Regular contribution to the discussion forum:25% 10 contributions to the Philosophy of Science Concept Wiki:25% Final exam paper: 30%


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