Phil 225 philosophy of the natural sciences (queens college) syllabus course information


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Phil 225 philosophy of the natural sciences (queens college) syllabus course information

  1. 1. SCIENCE AND TRUTH Fall 2012 Instructor: Dr. Alberto CORDERO Lectures: Mo We 1:40 Office Hour: Mo We 12:30 - 1:30, or by appointment Office: Powdermaker 350L Phone: x5270 Email: COURSE DESCRIPTION: Science is everywhere today. Its characteristic products come from a laboriously learned way of pursuing knowledge, long in the making and now of leading importance in everyday life. This course deals with such topics as the character of contemporary science, the traditional view that scientific progress attests to increasingly close approximations to fundamental truths about nature. Our emphasis will be on issues about the scope, limits and development of scientific beliefs, and also issues about science and the epistemic value of predictive power. No special scientific knowledge will be presupposed, only very basic (undergraduate) logic and philosophy. We will begin with a case study from real science, the discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule, which will provide background to the course. The bulk of our readings and discussions will focus on a textbook and a set of accessible essays representative of the topics chosen for the course, selected to give a solid, plural and dialectical exposure to the relevant issues. GRADING: Class participation, including reading tests (40%). Examinations (60%; there will be two exams, 30 points each). All exams and quizzes will be based on material covered in the lectures, discussions and required readings. Class participation is strongly encouraged and will be rewarded. There are no “extra credit” assignments in this course. Attendance is required. Students must take all the quizzes and exams at the scheduled times. Late arrival will mean a zero grade for the quiz or exam in question. Please realize that ‘special arrangements’ may be granted only in the most extreme circumstances, and if granted they may carry a penalty (e.g. 15% of the total for the test in question). ALL WORK FOR THE COURSE MUST BE COMPLETED AT THE SCHEDULED TIMES
  2. 2. REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS [K]: Klemke, E. D. et al.: Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science. 3rd ed. (Prometheus Books). ISBN: 1-57392-240-4 [G]: Giere, Ronald, N et al.: Understanding Scientific Reasoning. (Wadsworth Publishing; 5 edition/ paperback. ISBN-13: 978-0155063266 [W]: Watson, James: The Double Helix. (Touchstone/ paperback. ISBN 13: 978-0743216302 Participants should also get a handy, short dictionary of philosophy, for example The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy by Simon Blackburn (Oxford UP, ISBN: 0-19-283134-8). COURSE PROGRAM (Dates are subject to change) Scientific Claims Today (8/27) Required readings: [G1] Science as Practiced by Scientists (8/29, 9/5) Required Reading: [W]. The Production and Corroboration of Hypotheses: The DNA Molecule (9/10) Required readings: [G 2.1] What Is Science? (9/12, 19, 24) Required readings: [K1 Popper], [K2 Ziman], [K3 Feyerabend], [K4 Thagard], [K5 Kitcher]. Special Activity ; check Bb two wks prior (10/1) Is it True? Selected Case Studies (10/3, 10) Models, Theories and their Evaluation (10/15, 17) Required readings: [G 2.1 to 2.9] What Do Crucial Experiments Establish? (10/22) Required readings: [G 2.11] Historical Case Studies from Physics and Chemistry (10/24, 29) Required readings: [G 3.1 to 3.3] Historical Case Studies from Geology and Biology (10/31, 11/5)
  3. 3. Required readings: [G 3.4 to 3.6] Mid Term Exam (11/7) Poor Science (11/12, 14) Required readings: [G4] Statistic and Probabilistic Theories in Contemporary Science (11/19) Required readings: [G 5.1 to 5.3] Correlations and Epistemological Caution (11/21) Required readings: [G 5.4 & 5.5] Probabilistic Models and Hypotheses (11/26) Required readings: [G 5.7 to 5.8] The Epistemology of Sampling (11/28) Required readings: [G 5.9 to 5.11] The Evaluation of Statistical Hypotheses (12/3) Required readings: Required readings: [G 6.1 & 6.2] Statistical Significance and the Problems of Sampling (12/5) Required readings: [G 6.3 & 6.4] Can You Believe it? The Evaluation of Statistical Hypotheses (12/10) Required readings: [G 6.5 & 6.6] Science and Truth (12/12) Concluding lecture