David W. Agler

Philosophy of Science

The goal of this course is to introduce you to the philosophy of science. We will do this by exploring a variety of key ideas, issues, and thinkers in the philosophy of science. A brief sampling of the questions we will consider are as follows:

  1. what is the philosophy of science?
  2. what is the method employed by science?
  3. does science progress? if so, how does this occur?
  4. how should we understand scientific success?
  5. have choices between different scientific theories been rational?
  6. how should we understand a successful scientific theory that refers to unobservable entities?
  7. what is the nature of scientific explanation?
  8. are there values in science?

In addition to these central issues, we will explore, in some more detail, the relation of science and the philosophy of science to pseudoscience. In particular, we will investigate what science can say about the paranormal, supernatural, and theological. A brief sampling of the questions we will consider are as follows:

  1. what is pseudoscience and how does it differ from science?
  2. are science and the claims investigated by pseudoscience completely at odds?
  3. why do so many people have beliefs in things that cannot be scientifically proven?
  4. should we only believe what science tells us?
  5. can science provide any insight into the paranormal?

Syllabi

Syllabus, 2016

Handouts

Handouts, 2016

Weekly Assignments

Weekly Writing Assignments

Exams

exam 1
exam 2
exam 3