Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Science

Dr. Boaz Miller


Course Description
The course deals with fundamental questions in philosophy of science. We will examine how the philosophy of
science has reformulated basic questions and debates in Western philosophy, and how it has addressed them
using the means at its disposal. Among the questions we will discuss are: Is there scientific rationality, and how
is it to be conceptualized? What does it mean that science is a social enterprise? As time progresses, does science
approximate the truth, at least in some cases? What are the ways in which science represents the world? The
course readings consist of classical and contemporary sources.



  • attendance
  • regular reading
  • participation in class discussion
  • in class quiz
  • take-home exam

Grade Breakdown

  • 15% in class quiz
  • 85% take-home exam
  • Up to 5% bonus for meaningful participation in class discussion

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  • manifest familiarity with key issues and debates in philosophy of science;
  • develop a philosophical critical stance toward scientific theories and practices.

Course Plan and Assigned Readings
1. Introduction and Course Overview


2. Logical Empiricism
Brown, James R. 2001. Who Rules in Science: An Opinionated to the Wars, 47-58. Cambridge MA: Harvard
University Press.


3. The Problem of Induction
Hume, David. 1748. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Section IV: Sceptical Doubts
Concerning the Operations of the Understanding; Section V: Sceptical Solution of these Doubts.
)יום, דיוויד. 1748/2008 . מחקר בדבר בינת האדם. פרק ד': פקפוקים ספקניים בדבר דרכיה של הבינה; פרק
ה': פתרון ספקני של הפקפוקים הללו, 51-80 . תרגום: גיא אלגת. תל אביב: רסלינג.(


4. Popper’s Critical Rationalism
Popper, Karl R. 1963. Science: Conjectures and Refutations. In Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of
Scientific Knowledge, 33-58. London: Routledge.
)פופר, קרל ר. 1963/1977 . מדע: השערות והפרכות. בתוך ספר מקורות: פילוסופיה של המדע, עורכים גד
פרוידנטל ושמעונה גינצבורג, 1-23 . תל אביב: האוניברסיטה הפתוחה.(


5. Underdetermination of Theory by Evidence
Staley, Kent W. 2014. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Ch. 3: Underdetermination, 26-38.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


6. Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Kuhn, Thomas S. 1963. The Function of Dogma in Scientific Research. In Scientific Change, edited by A. C.
Crombie, 347-369. London: Heinemann.
Kuhn, T. S. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. Ch. 9: The Nature and Necessity of
Scientific Revolutions, 92-110. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


7. Kuhn on the Rationality of Science
Kuhn, Thomas S. 1977. Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice. In The Essential Tension: Selected
Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change, 102‐118. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


8. Human Kinds
Hacking, Ian. 1999. Making up People. In The Science Studies Reader, edited by Mario Biagioli, 161-171.
London: Routledge.


9. Social Constructivism
Anonymous. 1997. You Can’t Follow the Science Wars Without a Battle Map. The Economist (Dec 11).
Brown, James R. 2001. Who Rules in Science: An Opinionated Guide to the Wars, Ch. 6: The Naturalist
Wing of Social Constructivism 115-143. Harvard: Harvard University Press.


10. Critical Contextual Empiricism
Longino, Helen. 1992. Essential Tensions – Phase Two: Feminist, Philosophical, and Social Studies of
Science. In The Social Dimensions of Science, ed. Ernan McMullin, 198-216. Notre Dame: University of
Notre Dame Press.


11. Science, Values, and Inductive Risk
Douglas, Heather. 2000. Inductive Risk and Values in Science. Philosophy of Science 67(4): 559-579.


12. Feminist Philosophy of Science
Okruhlik, Kathleen. 1998. Gender and the Biological Sciences. In Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues,
edited by M. Curd and J. A. Cover, 192-207. New York: Norton.
Lloyd, Elisabeth 1993. Pre-Theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality.
Philosophical Studies 69(2/3): 139-153.


13. Review and in-Class Quiz

14. Scientific Realism: Does Science Tell the Truth?
Psillos, Sthathis. 2006. Scientific Realism. In Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed., Vol. 8, ed. D. M. Borchert,
688-694. Detroit: Macmillan.


15. The Pessimistic Induction on Past Scientific Failures
Lehoux, Daryn. 2012. What Did the Romans Know? Ch. 6: The Trouble with Taxa, 133-154; Ch. 9: Of
Miracles and Mistaken Theories, 200-223. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


16. Constructive Empiricism
Byrne, Peter. 2016. Why Science Should Stay Clear of Metaphysics: Meet the Philosopher Who Revived
Anti Realism (Interview with Bas van Fraassen). Nautilus 40.
Musgrave, Alan. 1985. Realism versus Constructive Empiricism. In Images of Science: Essays on Realism
and Empiricism, edited by Paul Churchland and Clifford Hooker, 1 97-221. Chicago: University of Chicago


17. Entity Realism
Miller, Boaz. 2015. What is Hacking’s Argument for Entity Realism? Synthese 193(3): 991-1006.


18. Structural Realism
Ladyman, James. 2011. Structural Realism versus Standard Scientific Realism: The Case of Phlogiston
and Dephlogisticated Air. Synthese 180(2): 87-101.


19. TBA

20. TBA

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