What makes a field like astronomy, but not astrology, a science? How reliable and objective are scientific explanations of the world, and why? Or are scientific theories "just theories"? In what sense are the laws of nature necessarily true? How can concrete evidence justify abstract theories? Thiscourse addresses questions like these, as well as topics such as the relationship between science and philosophy, the structure of explanation and confirmation in science, the nature of causation, the status of laws of nature, the meaning of conceptual change, and the role of theoretical entities.
Designed for students who have taken at least one philosophy class, this course explores the conceptual foundations of science, proving that it is impossible to think carefully about science without grappling with fundamental questions in metaphysics and epistemology. Philosophy of science is not so different from philosophy itself.
The course will be run as a seminar vitally dependent on active student participation. Students will be encouraged to speak candidly and often in class discussions, and will be expected to come thoroughly prepared to each class session.