This course does not assume any prior knowledge of philosophy, nor does it require
detailed knowledge of any particular science.
Any scientific principles or models will be
covered in the text or the accompanying lectures.
Also, while I may incorporate some
mathematics while discussing a scientific model or formula, you will not be required to
perform any mathematical calculations.
The objective of this class is to examine
philosophical issues in science (such as the demarcation problem, indetermination,
scientific realism, and induction).
Philosophical investigation and analysis require
careful consideration of arguments, both pro and con.
If you quickly consider our current society and culture, you will notice that we live in a
world filled with technology.
We can access information about almost anything by
logging onto the internet and doing the appropriate search.
We can easily get news--local
or international as it is happening—on the other side of the world if we like.
We can look
at pictures and images taken from space.
We all use computers, laptops, the gps systems, music systems, etc.
We can take
advantage of medicine that can treat most kinds of illnesses.
Recently during my dental
cleaning, I watched as my x-ray was digitized and instantly displayed on the monitor
above my chair.
I could see in detail what my hygienist was looking at.
Soon all our
medical records will be converted into digital form and accessible by all physicians.
We’ve benefitted tremendously from technology, but of course, there are negative aspects
—nuclear weapons, pollution, global warming, to name a few.
However, whether for our
benefit or to our detriment, none of these technologies could exist without science.
Without science there would be no electronic devices (such as dvds, cd players, ipods,
hdtv), spacecraft, micro-surgery, or weapons of mass destruction.
technology has had significant impact on all our lives—how we spend our time, what we
do for a living, how we live and how we affect the environment.
Science also enjoys a good reputation.
It is often regarded as the highest form of rational
Science is deemed to be objective and rational.
A scientifically proven
claim has the status of a fact.
For instance, if in a court of law, a ballistics expert testifies
that a bullet came from a certain direction at a certain trajectory from a certain distance, it
would be regarded as established fact.
With regard to justice, health, engineering and so
much more, we rely heavily, directly or indirectly on the findings of science.
Of course not everyone may regard science as completely free from blemishes.
whether we have faith in science or not, each one of us is greatly affected by science and
the products produced by scientific research.
Given that science directly or indirectly has
transformed the way in which we live and the way in which we interact with each other,
it is important to understand and consider basic issues in science.