|LECTURES MW 1-1:50||RECITATIONS as scheduled: M2, T1, or W2|
The aim of this course is to provide a broad survey of some the most fundamental and general questions in philosophy of science, and to cultivate your ability to think through these difficult questions in a clear and critical way. The course is divided in two main parts. In the first part, we follow a text-book presentation of key questions such as: "What is science?", "Is there a unique scientific method?", and "Is science aiming at true theories, or does it only aim at theories that are consistent with observable phenomena?" We tackle these questions by looking at issues such as problem of induction and the nature of scientific explanation. We critically assess the main philosophical views surrounding these questions and issues, and we consider the relevance of historical and sociological approaches to the philosophy of science. In part two, we will focus on some recent primary literature that showcases current approaches to these classic issues. Throughout the course we will be concerned with applications of these general concerns to particular issues in the physical sciences, the life sciences, and the cognitive sciences.
By the end of this course you should have a broad understanding of the key issues and approaches in the last 100 years of philosophy of science up to the present day. You will gain more than a passing familiarity with empiricism, logical positivism, the demarcation problem, the problems of induction, the nature of scientific explanation, scientific laws, scientific realism, causal reasoning, scientific revolutions, historical and sociological challenges, naturalistic approaches to the philosophy of science, and feminist perspectives on science. This basis will enable you to read the primary literature and to begin to engage in ongoing debates over such issues as the place of string theory in physics, whether the different sciences can be unified, and whether consciousness in humans and animals can be studied scientifically.
In the reading schedule below "PGS.#" and "Kuhn.#" refer to chapter # in the respective books. Other readings are referred to by author name and date. Note that reading schedule from 10/30 onwards may be rearranged.
Grades will be based on in-class/recitation participation, including quizzes and exercises, two writing assignments, a midterm, a final.
A Note on Attendance
Attendance will not be formally monitored but some in class/recitation activities will be graded and will not be available for credit otherwise, except in casses of excused absence. Lecture slides will be used variably during the semester and will only be made available after class if they are used.
Schedule of Readings and Presentations
NOTE: SOMETIMES LINKS BREAK. IF SOMETHING CAN'T BE REACHED, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY.
In-class exercises will assume that you have done the reading in advance. Reading philosophy is hard, so see my Guide to Reading, especially if you have not taken a philosophy class previously.
|Wed 08/28||What is Science?||PGS.1 and Quanta Mag https://www.quantamagazine.org/physicists-and-philosophers-debate-the-boundaries-of-science-20151216|
|Mon 09/02||Labor day - no class|
|Wed 09/04||Logic & Empiricism||PGS.2 and Hempel 1966 "Chapter 2: Scientific inquiry: invention and test"|
|Mon 09/09||Induction & Confirmation||PGS.3 and Goodman 1955 "The new riddle of induction"|
|Wed 09/11||Falsification||PGS.4 and Popper 1962 "Science: conjectures and refutations"|
|Mon 09/16||Normal Science||PGS.5 and Kuhn.I-V|
|Wed 09/18||Revolutionary Science||PGS.6 and K.VI-IX|
|Mon 09/23||Extending Kuhn||Kuhn X-XIII and Hoyningen Huene 1998 "On Thomas Kuhn's philosophical significance"|
|Wed 09/25||Lakatos, Laudan, Feyerabend||PGS.7 and watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDwoGtPbO5w|
|Mon 09/30||Sociological Challenge||PGS.8 and Collins “Elective Modernism” or “The Sociology of Knowledge”|
|Wed 10/02||Feminist Phil Sci||PGS.9 and Lloyd “Objectivity and the double standard for feminist epistemologies”|
|Mon 10/07||Naturalism||PGS.10+11 and Schickore “More Thoughts on HPS: Another 20 Years Later”|
|Wed 10/09||Sci Realism||PGS.12 and Cartwright: “Do the Laws of Physics State the Facts?”|
|Mon 10/28||Underdetermination||Norton - “Must Evidence Underdetermine Theory”|
|Wed 10/30||Varieties of Explanation||Woodward “Some Varieties of Non-Causal Explanation”|
|Mon 11/04||Explanation in Neuroscience||Chirimuuta "Explanation in Computational Neuroscience: Causal and Non-causal"|
|Wed 11/06||Emergence||Mitchell "Emergence: logical, functional and dynamical"|
|Mon 11/11||Pluralism in Biology||Dietrich & Mitchell "Integration without Unification: An Argument for Pluralism in the Biological Sciences"|
|Wed 11/13||Concepts||Machery "Concepts are not a natural kind"|
|Mon 11/18||Definitions and Ontology||Allen "On (not) defining cognition"|
|Wed 11/20||Definitions and Ontology||Fuller "What are chronic diseases"|
|Mon 12/02||What's left?||PGS15|
|Thu 12/12||Final Exam 4-5:50|
Statement for Students with Disabilities
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Statement about Academic Misconduct
University and Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences rules concerning academic misconduct will be rigorously enforced in this class. As a student at Pitt, you are expected to adhere to the standards and policies detailed in the School's Academic Integrity Code. When you submit assignments with your name on them in this course, you are signifying that the work contained therein is all yours, unless otherwise cited or referenced. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged. If you are unsure about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or exam, be sure to seek clarification beforehand. All suspected violations of the Code will be handled according to School and University policies. Sanctions for academic misconduct may include a failing grade on the assignment, reduction in your final grade, a failing grade in the course, among other possibilities, and must include a report to the Dean of Students.
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I ask that everyone in the class strive to help ensure that other members of this class can learn in a supportive and respectful environment. If there are instances of the aforementioned issues, please contact the Title IX Coordinator, by calling 412-648-7860, or e-mailing email@example.com. Reports can also be filed online: https://www.diversity.pitt.edu/make-report/report-form. You may also choose to report this to a faculty/staff member; they are required to communicate this to the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. If you wish to maintain complete confidentiality, you may also contact the University Counseling Center (412-648-7930).
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Statement on Classroom Recording
To ensure the free and open discussion of ideas, students may not record classroom lectures, discussion and/or activities without the advance written permission of the instructor, and any such recording properly approved in advance can be used solely for the student’s own private use.