Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 273: Philosophy of Science

PHIL 273: Philosophy of Science

The Generic Catalog Description

This course examines the nature of scientific knowledge and the principles used to acquire it. Episodes in the history of the natural and social sciences will illustrate scientific principles and practices. As part of this analysis, we will examine the philosophical foundations of inductive reasoning, explanation, observation, causation, and evidence. We will give special attention to scientific issues that have distinctive social and ethical impact, and will discuss general metaphilosophical issues, such as the role of philosophy in clarifying and commenting on science.

PHIL 273: Philosophy of Science

James Blachowicz

This course will inquire into the extent to which the reputation that scientific knowledge has--as a uniquely effective form of analysis with its own distinctive "method"--is deserved. Problems concerning the legitimacy or validity of inductive inference will be explored; a search for the "scientific method" will be undertaken in the early history of the scientific revolution of the 16th-17th centuries; the role of discovery and its relation to the justification (or "proof") of hypotheses will be examined; finally, the sociological basis for a distinctive scientific community will be considered. A substantial percentage of this course will examine specific cases from various natural sciences.


Salmon, W. The Foundations of Scientific Inference
Burtt, E. A. The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science
Hanson, N. R. Patterns of Discovery (selections)
Kuhn, T. S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

PHIL 273: Philosophy of Science

James Harrington

The basic question of this course is: does natural science provide a special kind of knowledge of the world against which to test all of the rest of our beliefs? And, if it does, how does it go about doing so? We begin by examining the claim by the late astronomer and physicist Carl Sagan that it does do so. In the remainder of the course, we will consider certain philosophical and historical facts about science in order to evaluate Sagan's claims.

Typical Readings:
Carl Sagan, The Demon-haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Alan Chalmers, What is This Thing Called Science?
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Michael J. Crowe, Theories of the World from Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution
Jared Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee