PHIL 280: Introduction to Philosophy of Science

Winter 2013

Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Koperski

Phone: 964-7251

 

Office: Brown 315

E-mail: koperski@svsu.edu

www.svsu.edu/~koperski/

 

Description: This course introduces students to the philosophy of the natural sciences. The course material is structured around some of the great revolutions in the history of science: the Copernican Revolution in astronomy, Newton's discovery of the laws of mechanics, the development of quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, and neo-Darwinism. These events will be used to develop a general philosophical understanding of science. Along the way, we will discuss some of the key issues examined by philosophers of science: the confirmation of scientific hypotheses by empirical evidence, theory revision, and whether scientific claims should be interpreted as giving a true picture of physical reality. No particular background in physics or biology is required. In general, our emphasis will be on historical and conceptual issues.

Texts: All readings are either online or on Vspace.

Assignments:

15% Test 1

15% Test 2

15% Test 3

25% Paper

15% Final Exam

15% In-Class Assignments

 

 

Paper topics will be given later in the semester. See www.svsu.edu/~koperski/PaperGrades.htm for instructions on the paper. Exams will contain objective (e.g., multiple choice), short answer, and essay questions. The final is not comprehensive. In-class assignments are mainly pop quizzes on the assigned reading material for the day, but may include short discussion questions as well. There are no make-ups for in-class assignments

 

Grades will be assigned on the following scale:

Scale:

92-100 A

78-79 C+

 

90-91 A-

70-77 C

 

88-89 B+

61-69 D

 

82-87 B

60 F

 

80-81 B-

 

 

Final grades will never be lower than those prescribed above as long as all work has been submitted. There is no curve for individual assignments, but a curve on cumulative course grades is possible.

 

Course Schedule

1. Data, Theories, and Metaphysics [V:Ratzsch]

2. Copernican Astronomy

A. Ancient Physics and Metaphysics [V:Plato]

B. The Geocentric Theory [V:Hawking, pages 15-29]

C. The Heliocentric Theory

3. Confirming Scientific Hypotheses [V: Okasha]

A. The Problem of Induction

B. Falsificationism

C. Hypothedico-Induction [V:Hempel]

D. IBE

4. From Metaphysics to Classical Mechanics

A. Aristotelian Physics

Optional:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-causality/

B. Newtonian Mechanics and the Mechanistic Worldview [V:Cohen, section 1.1]

5. Laws of Nature [V: Rosenberg]

Reductionism [V:Bishop]

Optional:

http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/l/lawofnat.htm

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/laws-of-nature/

6. Relativity [V:Sing, STR]

7. Realism, Anti-Realism, and Kuhn [Kuhn]

Optional:

http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/hanson.htm

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/

8. Quantum Theory [V:Greene]

9. Basic Evolutionary Biology [V:Kitcher]

10. Intelligent Design [Behe] & [Koperski-ACPQ pages 567-571]

11. Self-Organization, Epigenetics, and Hopeful Monsters: Friendly Critics of Orthodox Darwinism

Stephen J. Gould, Darwinian Fundamentalism

Phillip Johnson, The Gorbachev of Darwinism

http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1951968,00.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/epigenetics.html

 

 

Slides available in Vspace