Introduction to Philosophy of Science: Intro
David Spencer
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I've always wanted to make a geeklist version of one of the classes I've taught at UC Davis and, given the general interest in science and many discussions I've seen about what makes something science or scientific, using my "Introduction to Philosophy Science" class I taught last year seemed like a good choice. If I end up doing the whole thing, it'll be a series of 5 or 6 more geeklists following this one, each one covering one of the units of the course. This will largely depend on whether there's enough interest. The general atmosphere I'd like to create is one of a real class, albeit in Geeklist electronic form, so feel free to ask questions or dialogue (in a respectful manner). Allow me a day or two to respond, though, since I can get pretty busy watching my girls.
Note that much of this will just be me putting up the text of my notes or lecture slides, so some of what I put here may be cryptic or incomplete to others besides myself. In further lists, I may even add quizzes (in poll form) or the text of assignments given for those interested.

TEXTS: Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science by Peter Godfrey-Smith, and Readings in the Philosophy of Science: From Positivism to Postmodernism edited by Theodore Schick.

SYNOPSIS: A study of some of the basic problems in the philosophy of science, common to the physical, biological, and social sciences. Problems to be addressed include the following: What is science and what distinguishes it from pseudoscience? Can science really tell us anything about reality? What is the goal of science, anyway? How do we test scientific theories?

CLASS SCHEDULE:

TR: Theory and Reality RPS: Readings in the Philosophy of Science
Numbers indicate relevant chapters or selections from the texts.

Unit 1 Introduction; Logical Positivism (Carnap and the Postivists)
TR 1&2, RPS 1

Unit 2 Induction, Confirmation, and Falsification (Popper)
TR 3&4, RPS 2,8,9,10

Unit 3 Paradigms and Scientific Revolutions (Kuhn, Lakatos, Laudan, Feyerabend)
TR 5-7, RPS 3, 22, 25, 4

Unit 4 Explanations, Theories, and Models (Giere)
TR 13, RPS 12-15

Unit 5 Scientific Realism
TR 12, RPS 34-36, 38

Unit 6 Science and Religion
RPS 41, 42

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1. Board Game: Professor Noggin's Wonders of Science [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
David Spencer
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Every science has its own object of study

 Biology - physical life
 Psychology - the mind and behavior
 Natural sciences - nature
 Social sciences - society (and related things)

We might want to look at science itself as our object of study

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David Spencer
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The Science of Science

Why might this be important?
 Varying, allegedly dangerous extremes in how science is viewed
--- Science as a magical religion and scientists its priests and communicators of dogma
--- Science as sexist, bigoted oppression
 Controversies over scientific theories
--- Evolution
--- Global warming
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There are various aspects and angles via which we could study science
 Psychology of science
 Sociology of science
 History of science
 Economics of science

We will be studying science from a philosophical viewpoint

Note that doing this may involve doing a bit of studying science from other viewpoints
Within philosophy of science, there are still further angles via which we might try to understand science
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Metaphysics of Science

 Suppose this theory or group of theories were true:
--- What would reality have to be like?
--- What philosophical consequences would there be?
 Debates over the consequences of quantum mechanics or general relativity

Epistemology of Science

 How are scientific claims justified?
 How ought science to be practiced to produce knowledge?
 Can scientific claims be justified or amount to knowledge, and, if so, which ones?

Language of Science

 How do theoretical terms get their meanings?
 Do older uses of theoretical terms really refer to the same entities as newer uses?
 Are scientific theories the sorts of things that can be true or false?

The Nature of Science

What is science?
What is it for something to count as scientific?
 Does mathematics count as science?
What about creation science or ID?
 Does it matter?

Ethics of science

What are unethical ways of performing experiments?
What moral obligations do scientists have in their role as scientists and in doing science?
 Are there certain avenues, theories, or ways of dong science that scientists are morally barred from?

Philosophy of Particular Sciences

 Philosophy of Physics
 Philosophy of Biology
 Philosophy of Psychology
 Philosophers who work in these sorts of areas can and often do make genuine contributions to fundamental debates taking place within these sciences
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The Key Questions for this Course

 What is science?
 How does science work?

Each of the first four units will involve tackling an answer to the first question in conjunction with an issue involving the second question.

If we have time we MAY also consider:
 Should we believe scientific theories are true?
 How should science and religion relate?
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