Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 452: Philosophy of Science

Catalog Description

Topics treated under this heading vary. The course may deal with theories of inference, of theoretical explanation, or of observation with more specialized topics such as confirmation theory, the problems of a logic of discovery, or the relation between history and philosophy of science.

PHIL 452: Philosophy of Science - Evidence, Explanation, Representation 

Fr. James Murphy

The central focus of the course will be explanation. Evidence as what grounds explanation, and representation as one possible outcome of explanation, will also be treated.

Students will be required to produce one major paper on some aspect of scientific explanation, focusing on one particular scientific discipline. The physical sciences, life sciences, and social sciences are all acceptable areas of research, as is historiography. Students will also be required to write a book-report on the biography of one major scientist.

Introductions to philosophy of science include Alex Rosenberg, Philosophy of Science; Alan Chalmers, What is this Thing Called Science?; Peter Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Reality; and the instructor’s own introduction, available in pdf on request. It is a requirement that one such book be read before the course starts.

Books currently under consideration as main-texts for the course:

  • Mayo, Deborah 1996. Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge.
  • Sober, Elliott 2008. Evidence and Evolution.
  • Strevens, Michael 2008. Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.
  • Rouse, Joseph 2002. How Scientific Practices Matter.
  • Van Fraassen, Bas 2008. Scientific Representation.

Books of discipline-specific interest include:

  • Turner, Derek 2011. Palaeontology: A Philosophical Introduction.
  • Morgan, Mary 2012. The World in the Model: How Economists Work and Think.
  • Griffiths, Paul and Karola Stotz 2013. Genetics and Philosophy.
  • O’Malley, Maureen 2014. Philosophy of Microbiology.
  • Paul, Herman 2015. Key Issues in Historical Theory.