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
- Readings: Ratzsch ch 1; Understanding Science: how science really works - a website hosted by UC Berkeley.
- Discussion: What is science?
- Syllabus - Course rationale, objectives, evaluation
- Facts, theories, laws and hypotheses
- Characteristics of science
- Empiricality, objectivity & rationality
Wed. 1/15 Traditional views of science
- Readings: Ratzsch ch. 2; DeWitt chs. 1-2
- Discussion: What is the scientific method?
- Types of facts
- Observations & Experiments
1/17 Karl Popper & Falsification
- Readings: Ratzsch ch. 2; DeWitt chs. 3-5
- Discussion: How do you distinguish science from non-science?
- Pseudo-scienc & science
- Critical tests of theories
- Simple & qualified falsificationism
- Duhem-Quine Thesis
1/19 MRTIN LUTHER KING HOLIDAY
Wed. 1/22 Thomas Kuhn and Paradigms
- Readings: Ratzsch ch. 3; DeWitt ch. 6
- Discussion: Is science rational?
- Problems with traditional views of science
- Thomas Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
- Paradigms and normal science
- Anomalies & crises in science
- Scientific revolutions
Fri. 1/24 Postmodernist & Relativist Philosophies
- Readings: Ratzsch ch. 4; DeWitt ch. 7
- Discussion: Is science objective?
- Relativism & progress in science
- Paul Feyerabend & anarchistic science
Mon. 1/27 Imre Lakatos' Research Programs
- Readings: tba
- Discussion: How trustworthy is scientific consensus?
- Imre Lakatos & research programs
- Hard cores and protective belts
- Auxiliary hypotheses
- Degenerating and progressing research programs
- Limited realism
Wed. 1/29 Instrumentalism and realism
- Readings: Ratzsch chs. 5-6; DeWitt ch. 8
- Discussion: Can science give us a "true" picture of the universe?
- Limited realism
- Larry Laudan's pragmatic philosophy of science
Fri. 1/31 Philosophy of Biology
- Readings: Ernst Mayr
The Autonomy of Biology
- Discussion: How is biology different from physical sciences?
- Experimental" vs "observational-comparative" science
- Historical sciences
- Formulating laws vs. clarifying concepts
- Essentialism & nominalism
- Determinism & openness
- Reductionism & emergence
Mon. 2/3 Relating Science & Religion
- Readings: Barbour ch. 4; Ratzsch chs. 7 & 10
- Discussion: Are science and religion in conflict?
- Other alternative models
Wed. 2/5 Models & Paradigms in Science and Religion
- Readings: Barbour ch. 5
- What can the philosophy of science teach us about about the nature of religion?
- Models in science & religion
- Realism & anti-realism in science & religion
- Paradigms in religion.
- Objectivity and commitment
- Faith & reason
Fri. 2/07 Similarities and Differences in Science and Religion
- Readings: Barbour ch. 6
- How are science and religion similar or different?
- Realism & anti-realism in religion
- Objectivity and relativism
Mon. 2/10 Exam #1
- Return to History & Philosophy of Science Home Page
- Part 2: Historical Overview to 1800 - schedule, topics, readings and discussion
- Part 3: The Darwinian Revolution - schedule, topics, readings and discussion
- Part 4: Contemporary Issues - schedule, topics, readings and discussion