Philosophy of Science

This module considers philosophical issues that arise in connection with the sciences. We will consider what scientific method is, how science relates to the rest of knowledge, whether it provides an ideal model for rational inquiry in general, and whether we should think of science as describing reality. In the first few weeks we will consider traditional accounts of scientific method and theory-testing, and then examine philosophical challenges to the status of science as a rational form of enquiry. We give particular consideration to three of the most important twentieth-century philosophers of science: Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend. Next we will consider whether and in what sense we should be confident that our best current scientific theories are accurate descriptions of reality. We do not assume that you have an extensive knowledge of science: the relevant scientific concepts will be presented in a simple and accessible way, and there will be no maths.