PHIL 150.001 – Theory, Evidence, and Understanding in Science

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Instructor: Yifan Li. This course meets MWF 10:10 – 11:00 a.m. in CW 105.

The development of science is arguably one of the most significant episode in human history; it has thoroughly transformed our understanding of nature and our selves. In this class, we will look at some of the most important and interesting questions philosophers has asked about science, and think together about the answers that has been proposed. The question we will look at include:

What is science? What distinguish it from other human activities?
Why is science so successful? Is it because of the employment of the scientific method? If so, what is the science method and why does it work so well (if there is indeed such a thing)?
What kind of world picture does science present to us?
What is the relation between abstract theory of scientific methodology and actual scientific practice in the real world? In particular, what does scientific revolutions (e.g., the Copernican Revolution in astronomy) tells us about science itself?

While our primary focus in this class will be these fundamental questions in philosophy of science, we will also frequently pay attention to some contemporary issues after we are equipped with the relevant conceptual resources.

This class has no prerequisite in philosophy or anything beyond middle school science. Anyone who is interested in exploring the fundamental questions about science itself is welcome to join.