PHIL2130 Philosophy of the sciences

First semester 2005-06
Lecturers: Dr. W.M. Kwok ( and Dr. Federica La Nave (
Tuesday, 10:40-12:30 Main Building M201

bubble chamber in particle physics

This course is an introduction to the logic and history of scientific methodology, and selected problems in the philosophy of science.

The first half of the course will be taught by Dr. Kwok. There are three main topics to be discussed in the first half of the course: 1. Science and its pretenders - What are the criteria for choosing among rival hypotheses? 2. Realism vs. antirealism - Do unobservable theoretical entities like electrons really exist? 3. Newton vs. Leibniz on space - Does space have an absolute existence over and above the spatial relations among objects, or does it consist simply of the totality of such relations? Other possible topics include: the nature of scientific explanation, the structure of scientific revolution, and the limits of science.

The second half of the course will be taught by Dr. La Nave. It will focus on several ways philosophers in different historical periods have approached the question of scientific method and its relation to knowledge. Topics will include some of the following: Plato's doctrine of the forms as a basis for knowledge; deductive logic as the ground of scientific method in Aristotle's Posterior Analytics; the Medieval problem of universals and its connection to Aristotelean science; Descartes' metaphysics and his dualistic science; Hume against the possibility of a deductive science of nature; and Kant's response to Hume.


Two short papers. One for the first half of the course and one for the second half. More details to be provided later.

Course material

Download from this directory.