30 September - 04 October 2019, 08h30 – 16h30 (unless otherwise specified)
This module investigates the philosophical issues concerning the nature and status of scientific knowledge which continue to arise as science develops. Since the emergence of modern science a series of scientific revolutions have continued to transform our understanding of both nature and human nature. The course is designed to provide the student with a solid grasp of the scientific enterprise. It introduces the student to the methods of science and evaluates these methods. It examines the philosophies of science which situate science in relation to other areas of knowledge and human life. The core question is: Why should we believe what science tells us about ourselves and the world?
The contents include:
What exactly are the claims made by science? What is the aim of science? Does science tell us all we need to know? Is there a limit to scientific knowledge?
What is scientific method? How do the empirical methods of observation and experimentation contribute to scientific knowledge? How do the methods of measurement and mathematics contribute to science? How are empirical and mathematical methods combined? What is a hypothesis/a theory/a scientific law? How is a scientific law or theory proved or verified or established? How does scientific knowledge develop?
Is there a single method or many methods of science? How do the physical, biological, psychological and social sciences relate to each other? Can some sciences be reduced to others? How does the cultural or social context affect the status of what is presented as scientific knowledge?
A historical overview of the development of science will be given. The work of Aristotle, Galileo, Bacon, Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein will be treated. Also the positions of such philosophers of science as Popper, Lakatos, Kuhn, and Feyerabend will be examined