Lecture_One - Philosophy of Science, Lecture 1 Richard N....

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Philosophy of Science, Lecture 1 © Richard N. Boyd. Do not quote or reproduce without explicit permission.
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Basic facts about course 1. Must read: syllabus on blackboard! 2. No formal prerequisites, BUT 3. Useful: some science OR methodologically self- conscious social science OR science studies or related cultural studies OR some philosophy OR some comfort with mathematical reasoning. 4. NOT ”science for poets,” or whatever. 5. 2 in-class hour exams; one shortish term paper; short exercise almost every week 6. S/U OK but 7. Not difficult if AND ONLY IF attend lectures AND SECTIONS AND do exercises.
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Standard pattern for week N Tuesday: Discussion topic for Thursday announced on Blackboard Wednesday: Exercise from week N-1 due by 5pm (if online quiz), in class otherwise Thursday: Discussion sections Friday: Short exercise assignment posted to Blackboard. Due Wed week N+1
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Introductory Philosophy of Science: Options The nature of scientific explanation: What is an explanation? Why should we prefer explanatory theories? Are explanations different in "basic sciences," like physics and "special sciences," like biology or sociology? Reduction and anti-reduction: In what sense, if any, are all the physical sciences, like chemistry and solid state physics, reducible to "fundamental physics"? What about the biological sciences? The social sciences? Special philosophical topics about particular sciences: How should we understand quantum indeterminacy? How are biological species properly defined? How about higher taxa? What's the appropriate relation between closely related sciences, e.g., between neuroscience and psychology?
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Topic for this Introductory Course Three (?) competing conceptions of science Logical empiricism Scientific realism Social constructivism (2 1/2 versions) +Their implications re scientific objectivity Why this choice? 1. Logical empiricism dominated 20th c. phil. sci. 2. Much of literature: critiques/defenses of these conceptions. 3. Almost all answers to more specific questions reflect one/another of these 3 positions. 4. Nature of science is topic of interest across disciplines. EX: The nature of objectivity; science and religion; science and the humanities; “creation science” and “intelligent design”
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Rough Characterization of Positions Logical empiricism v. scientific realism Scientific realism: Accept most scientific findings at "face value." E.g.: There almost certainly really are atoms, molecules, quarks; we know about them via ordinary scientific research. [NB: Need not be uncritical of particular scientific "findings,"
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Lecture_One - Philosophy of Science, Lecture 1 Richard N....

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