Syllabus

Title
1598 Philosophy of Science
Instructors
ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. Gabriele Mras
Contact details
Type
PI SE
Weekly hours
2
Language of instruction
Englisch
Registration
09/01/14 to 09/22/14
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Doctoral/PhD Programs
Dates
Day Date Time Room
Wednesday 10/08/14 06:15 PM - 08:45 PM D4.0.039
Wednesday 10/29/14 06:15 PM - 07:15 PM D4.0.039
Wednesday 11/05/14 06:15 PM - 08:45 PM D4.0.039
Wednesday 11/12/14 07:15 PM - 08:45 PM D4.0.039
Wednesday 11/19/14 06:15 PM - 08:45 PM D4.0.039
Wednesday 11/26/14 06:15 PM - 08:45 PM D4.0.039
Wednesday 12/03/14 06:15 PM - 08:45 PM D4.0.039
Saturday 12/06/14 11:00 AM - 04:00 PM D4.0.133
Wednesday 12/10/14 06:15 PM - 08:45 PM D4.0.039

Contents

This course will present main approaches in the philosophy of science of the 20th century. 

Some perennial  problems concerning the possibility of justifying scientific claims will be presented and discussed ,above all the explication of the concept of 'causality'. We will consequently begin with David Hume's sceptical doubts concerning the operations of the human understanding, next we will move on to John Stuart Mill's distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions. The final part of this course will be devoted to the idea of a 'logical reduction' ' defended by Logical Empiricism, the so called "the problem of the empirical basis", and Karl Popper's idea of falsifiability as a demarcation line between science and pseudo-science.

Learning outcomes

Participants of this course are supposed to get familiar with the nature of scientific knowledge; i.e. what is to be acquired is knowledge about what distinguishes scientific claims from (mere) opinions, metaphysical statements or assertions of faith;

At the end of this course one ought to be able to analyse and evaluate the most influential approaches of the philosophy of science and the ways in which the following questions have been pursued:

(i) what is the potential support of a scientific claim?

(ii) what are the ways in which scientific claims could be used in order to formulate predictions?

(iii) in which way does the formulation of a hypothesis depend on (i) and (ii)? 

It is essential for following this course to understand and appreciate the dilemmas involved in pursuing scientific questions.

Teaching/learning method(s)

Lecture, text analysis, discussion; this course will be based on philosophical texts. The reading material will be made available in a Reader. Students are highly encouraged to participate actively in class.

Assessment

Requirements and Assessment

  1. A set of questions will be distributed every time in class; the questions are based on the argument structure of the class: 15%
  2. Class participation in general: 15%
  3. Final exam: 70 %

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

Some knowledge in philosophy would be helpful, but is not required.

Availability of lecturer(s)

Lecturer: Prof. Gabriele Mras 

Office hours: Thursday 12:30 - 13:30,
Building D4, 3rd floor, room number D4.3.020 

Tel.: 01-31336-4257
Email: gabriele.mras@wu.ac.at

Administration: Bettina Gerdenich

Tel.: 01-31336-4166

Email: bettina.gerdenich@wu.ac.at

Other

If there are any questions regarding administration feel free to ask Mr. Raphael Haut. (raphael.haut@wu.ac.at)

Unit details

Unit Date Contents
1 08.10.2014

Intro to class, administrative details, course overview;

The questions we will pursue are:
"What is science?", "What is it the aim of a  philosophy of science?", "What is knowledge?", "How could something to be shown to be knowledge?"

2 05.11.2014

A) ARGUMENT, PROOF, VALIDITIY

What is an argument?, What is meant by "deduction"?, What are examples of fallacies?;

  • Aristotle: The Beginnings of Logic, Topics, Posterior Analytics; in: Copi Irving M. / Gould James A. (ed.): Readings on Logic; MacMillan Publishing Company, New York 1972, p. 8-16. (Download)
3 12.11.2014

B) THE CIRCLE OF INDUCTION

1. David Hume's analysis of inductive reasoning,
2. Inductive vs. deductive reasoning, the problem of induction, the "principle of uniformity",
3. Discussion: Is empirical knowledge justified by inductive reasoning? lf not, what prospects are left for justifying empirical statements?

Readings:

  • Hume, D.: Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding, in: Hume, D.: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding; LA Salle (Illinois) 1990. p. 71-83. (Download)

4 19.11.2014

C) JOHN STUART MILL, CAUSAL RELATIONS, NECESSARY AND SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS

1. Causal dependencies and the idea of necessity,
2. Mills' distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions

Readings:

  • Skyrms, B.: Mill's Methods of Experimental Inquiry and the Nature of Causality; in: Skyrms B.: Choice and Chance, An Introduction to inductive Logic; Stanford 2000, p. 69-73. (Download)
  • Davidson, D.: Causal Relations; in: Davidson, D.: Essays on Actions and Events; Oxford 1980; p. 149-162. (Download)
  • Mill working papers:
    Mill J.S.: Of the law of universal Causation. in: Mill J.S.: A System of Logic Ratiocinative and Inductiv. Routledge, London, Book III, Capter V, p. 327-334, p. 388-406. (Download)
    Mill J.S.: Of Abstraction, or the Formation of Conceptions. in: Mill J.S.: A System of Logic Ratiocinative and Inductiv. Liberty Fund, Canada, Book III, Capter V, p. 649- 662, p. 735-830. (Download)


5 26.11.2014

D) LOGICAL EMPIRICISM AND THE CONDITIONS OF THE POSSIBILITY TO SHOW THAT A THEORY HAS AN EMPIRICAL CONTENT

  1. The idea of confirmation vs. the aim of proving a theory to be true
    a. The Vienna Circle' and the principle of verifiability,
    b. What is verifiability?, What are singular consequences of hypothetical statements?, What is meant by "reduction of general sentence to observational sentences"?
    c. What are the basic properties of observation sentences or "protocol sentences"?

  2. The distinction between meaningful and meaningless sentences
    a. Rudolf Carnap's criticism of metaphysics
    b. The "protocol sentence-debate" in the mid-30ies of the 20th century

Readings:

  • Carnap, R.: What is Logical Analysis of Science? in: Hanfling O. (Ed.): Essential Readings in Logical Positivism; Oxford 1981, p. 112-129. (Download)
  • Carnap, R.: The Unity of Science; Bristol 1995, p. 42-52. (Download)
  • Hempel, C.G.: Inductiv - Statistical Explanation; in: Hempel, C.G.: Aspects of Scientific Explanation; De Gruyter Berlin 1965. p. 706-719. (Download)
6 03.12.2014

E) THE PRINCIPLE OF FALSIFIABILITY  - "KRITISCHER RATIONALISMUS"

1. Karl Popper's principle of falsifiability
    a. Falsifiability in contrast to verifiability
    b. What is the problem of the "demarcation principle" as suggested by the "Vienna Circle"? 
    c. What is the modus tollens? 

Readings:

  • Popper, K.: Extracts from: The Logic of Scientific Discovery; London, New York 2004, p. 3-34, p. 54-56, p. 66-67, p. 76-85, p. 88-94, p. 264-275. (Download)
  • Chalmers, A. F.: Introducing falsificationism; in: Chalmers A.F.: What is this thing called Science?; Maidenhead 1982, p. 55-68. (Download)
7 06.12.2014

F) THE PRINCIPLE OF FALSIFIABILITY  - "KRITISCHER RATIONALISMUS"

1. Karl Popper's principle of falsifiability
    a. What are 'basic sentences'?,
    b. The distinction between justified, true, verified, falsified, verifiable, falsifiable, corroborated scientific statements,

2. Lakatos criticism, falsifiability vs. falsification,
    a. the theory / observation dichotomy,
    b. again: the idea of negative existential claims as test for hypotheses

Readings:

  • Popper, K.: Extracts from: The Logic of Scientific Discovery; London, New York 2004, p. 3-34, p. 54-56, p. 66-67, p. 76-85, p. 88-94, p. 264-275. (Download)
  • Chalmers, A. F.: Introducing falsificationism; in: Chalmers A.F.: What is this thing called Science?; Maidenhead 1982, p. 55-68. (Download)
8 10.12.2014 Final exam 2hrs.
Last edited: 2014-09-25



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