BIOLOGY 470: HISTORY & PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

COURSE OUTLINE & SCHEDULE


 

PART 1: Philosophical Foundations

Major questions for this section: What are the characteristics of science? How do the major philosophies of science differ? How do scientists choose among theories? How do science and religion relate? What are the similarities and differences of science and religion?

 


Mon. 1/13 Course Orientation; introduction; worldviews

  1. Readings: Ratzsch ch 1; Understanding Science: how science really works - a website hosted by UC Berkeley.
  2. Discussion: What is science?
  3. Topics
    1. Syllabus - Course rationale, objectives, evaluation
    2. Facts, theories, laws and hypotheses
    3. Characteristics of science
    4. Empiricality, objectivity & rationality
    5. Worldviews

Wed. 1/15 Traditional views of science

  1. Readings: Ratzsch ch. 2; DeWitt chs. 1-2
  2. Discussion: What is the scientific method?
  3. Topics
    1. Truth
    2. Types of facts
    3. Induction
    4. Deduction
    5. Verification
    6. Observations & Experiments
    7. Positivism
    8. Hypothetico-deductivism
    9. Progress

Fri. 1/17 Karl Popper & Falsification

  1. Readings: Ratzsch ch. 2; DeWitt chs. 3-5
  2. Discussion: How do you distinguish science from non-science?
  3. Topics
    1. Pseudo-scienc & science
    2. Falsifiability
    3. Falsification
    4. Critical tests of theories
    5. Simple & qualified falsificationism
    6. Duhem-Quine Thesis

Mon. 1/19 MRTIN LUTHER KING HOLIDAY

Wed. 1/22 Thomas Kuhn and Paradigms

  1. Readings: Ratzsch ch. 3; DeWitt ch. 6
  2. Discussion: Is science rational?
  3. Topics
    1. Problems with traditional views of science
    2. Thomas Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    3. Paradigms and normal science
    4. Anomalies &  crises in science
    5. Scientific revolutions

Fri. 1/24 Postmodernist & Relativist Philosophies

  1. Readings: Ratzsch ch. 4; DeWitt ch. 7
  2. Discussion: Is science objective?
  3. Topics:
    1. Relativism & progress in science
    2. Paul Feyerabend & anarchistic science
    3. Postmodernism
    4. Experimentalism

Mon. 1/27 Imre Lakatos' Research Programs

  1. Readings: tba
  2. Discussion: How trustworthy is scientific consensus?
  3. Topics:
    1. Imre Lakatos & research programs
    2. Hard cores and protective belts
    3. Auxiliary hypotheses
    4. Degenerating and progressing research programs
    5. Limited realism

Wed. 1/29 Instrumentalism and realism

  1. Readings: Ratzsch chs. 5-6; DeWitt ch. 8
  2. Discussion: Can science give us a "true" picture of the universe?
  3. Topics:
    1. Realism
    2. Anti-realism
    3. Instrumentalism
    4. Limited realism
    5. Pragmatism
    6. Larry Laudan's pragmatic philosophy of science

Fri. 1/31 Philosophy of Biology

  1. Readings: Ernst Mayr The Autonomy of Biology
  2. Discussion: How is biology different from physical sciences?
  3. Topics:
    1. Experimental" vs "observational-comparative" science
    2. Historical sciences
    3. Formulating laws vs. clarifying concepts
    4. Essentialism & nominalism
    5. Determinism & openness
    6. Reductionism & emergence
    7. Teleology

Mon. 2/3 Relating Science & Religion

  1. Readings: Barbour ch. 4; Ratzsch chs. 7 & 10
  2. Discussion: Are science and religion in conflict?
  3. Topics:
    1. Conflict
    2. Independence.
    3. Dialogue
    4. Integration
    5. Other alternative models

Wed. 2/5 Models & Paradigms in Science and Religion

  1. Readings: Barbour ch. 5
  2. Discussion:
    1. What can the philosophy of science teach us about about the nature of religion?
  3. Topics:
    1. Models in science & religion
    2. Realism & anti-realism in science & religion
    3. Paradigms in religion.
    4. Objectivity and commitment
    5. Faith & reason

Fri. 2/07 Similarities and Differences in Science and Religion

  1. Readings: Barbour ch. 6
  2. Discussion:
    1. How are science and religion similar or different?
  3. Topics
    1. Realism & anti-realism in religion
    2. Objectivity and relativism
    3. Commitment
    4. Process
    5. Purpose

Mon. 2/10 Exam #1