Philosophy 3341
Philosophy of Science

Spring, 2011

Reading Schedule

Everything on this schedule is tentative. The material from March 16 to the end of the semester is even more tentative than the rest, and can be adjusted based on the interests and desires of the class.



reading assignment

Wed, Jan 12

What is science? Philosophy? Philosophy of science?


Mon, Jan 17 No Class Martin Luther King Day

Wed, Jan 19

Demarcation: what distinguishes science from nonscience and pseudoscience?

Popper, Kuhn, Thagard, Ruse, Laudan, Ruse (C&C 3-19, 27-37, 38-61)

recommended: Robert T. Pennock, "Can't Philosophers Tell the Difference between Science and Religion?: Demarcation Revisited," Synthese 178.2 (2011): 177-206. From on-campus computers you should be able to access this here: (The rest of the issue looks interesting too. The paper by Sarkar is also particularly relevant to this topic.) A blog posting criticizing Pennock's essay is here:

Mon, Jan 24

Explanation 1: Hempel's Model

Hempel, "Two Basic Types" (685-694); Ruben (C&C 720-745); Commentary pp. 769-772.

recommended: Carnap (678-684), the other two Hempel essays (695-719); the rest of the Commentary. There's a very good essay by David Lewis defending a view similar to Ruben's: "Causal Explanation," in Lewis, Philosophical Papers Volume II (Oxford University Press, 1986). A concise but thorough overview of the literature on explanation up to 1990 is Wesley Salmon, Four Decades of Scientific Explanation (U of Minnesota Press, 1990).

Wed, Jan 26

Explanation 2: Contextual Factors

Bas van Fraassen, "The Pragmatics of Explanation" (on TLEARN)

Mon, Jan 31

Realism and Anti-Realism 1

Maxwell, van Fraassen (in C&C 1052-1087)

Wed, Feb 2

Realism and Anti-Realism 2: NOA

Fine (in C&C 1186-1208); Hacking, "Observation" and "Microscopes" (on TLEARN)

optional: van Fraassen, "Constructive Empiricism Now" (on TLEARN)

Mon, Feb 7


Ronald Giere, two articles both called "Theories"; Elizabeth Lloyd on the structure of evolutionary theory (three chapters in two files): all on TLEARN

Wed, Feb 9

Induction & Confirmation 1: The Problem of Induction

Lipton, Popper, Salmon (C&C 412-444)
Mon, Feb14 Induction & Confirmation 2: The Problem of Underdetermination

Duhem, Laudan (C&C 257-79, 320-353)
Presenter: Michael

Wed, Feb 16

Induction & Confirmation 3: Intro to Probability Theory; Bayes's Theorem Introduced and Proved

"Bayes for Beginners" (C&C 627-638)
my quick intro to probability theory
my text intro
my web-based intro

Mon, Feb 21

Induction & Confirmation 4:
Examination of the Bayesian Approach

Rest of C&C's "Commentary" to Chapter 5 (C&C 638-674)
Presenter: Josh

Wed, Feb 23

A different approach to theory and evidence

Kitcher, "Darwin's Achievement" and "The Experimental Philosophy" (on TLEARN)
Presenters: Joe and Logan

Mon, Feb 28 Scientific Change 1 Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, chapters 1-8 (on TLEARN)
recommended: C&C 102-118
paper proposal due
Presenter: Emily
Wed, Mar 2 review for midterm no new reading
Mon, Mar 7 Midterm Examination  
Wed, Mar 9 Scientific Change 2 Kuhn, Structure, continued (more handouts)
Presenters: Andrius and Greg
Mar 12-20 No Classes Spring Break
Mon, Mar 21

Scientific Change 3: Kuhn Criticized

Laudan (C&C 139-69)

Wed, Mar 23 Evolutionary Psychology selection from Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works; selection from Fodor, The Mind Doesn't Work That Way
Presenter: Caitlin
Mon, Mar 28 Feminism and Science Kathleen Okruhlik, "Gender and the Biological Sciences," C&C 192-208; Ginzberg essay on TLEARN
Wed, Mar 30 Evolution & Ethics required: E. O. Wilson, On Human Nature, chapters 7 and 9; Peter Singer, The Expanding Circle, chapter 3 (on TLEARN); suggested: a chapter by Alexander and an encyclopedia entry by FitzPatrick (also on TLEARN)
Mon, April 4 science and religion 1: nonoverlapping magisteria? Stephen Jay Gould, "Nonoverlapping Magisteria"; Conservapedia entry (short); Ursula Goodenough, review of Gould's Rock of Ages; Dawkins, The God Delusion, chapter 2 ("The God Hypothesis")
Wed, April 6

science and religion 2: the new atheism

Dawkins, The God Delusion, chapter 4 ("Why There Almost Certainly Is No God")
Mon, April 11

paper presentations 1

recommended date to turn in rough draft of paper
presenters: Michael, Emily

Wed, April 13 paper presentations 2 presenters: Andrius, Caitlin, Logan
Mon, April 18 paper presentations 3 presenters: Greg, Josh, Joe
Wed, April 20 no class instructor out of town
Mon, April 25 string theory and problems of confirmation reading: selection from Smolin and/or Woit, TBA
final draft of paper due [the syllabus and paper handout say Monday, April 18; I am revising this]
Wed, April 27 climate change; wrap-up; review for final exam reading: TBA

Tuesday, May 10, 3:30 PM

Final Examination



Last update: April 11, 2011
Curtis Brown | Philosophy of Science | Philosophy Department | Trinity University