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Philosophy of science


Outline:

The course will begin with an introduction to epistemology followed by a discussion on the possible criteria of
demarcation between science and folklore (common knowledge), non-science, and metaphysics. This will be followed by an
introduction to logical positivism, and what is normally called the 'standard view'. A criticism of the standard view
will be covered in detail.  Focussed discussion on "Conceptual Change" will be conducted with implications to science and
mathematics education. (GN and AD)

"Historical perspectives on the central issues of the philosophy of science will be developed through discussion of Greek
and Islamic science, and the Scientific Revolution." (KS 3-4 lectures)

Objectives:

The cognitive objective of the course is: after the end of the course the student would have understood how to
distinguish between theory, hypotheses, laws, phenomena, models, and physical systems; develop an appreciation of
axiomatic structure of scientific theories; understand what happens to the structure of a scientific theory when
conceptual change takes place; the various criteria of demarcating science from other modes of pursuit; implications of
nature of science debate on science education. The course structure would be woven around episodes from history of
science, which would highlight an issue in History and Philosophy of Science.

Concrete outcomes of the course:  The participants of the course will collaboratively compose a book based on the topics
covered in the course. One of the objectives of the course is also to train students to compose and write essays and
cogent answers according to the rules of the game (review, proper citations, research, discussion, argument, conclusion
...).

 

Course Delivery:

There will be two classes of 120 minutes each per week. Evaluation will be regular (presentations and participation in
the discussions); and marking will depend on students contribution to the book, both quantitative and qualitative.
Students may be asked to make presentations throughout the course.

The students are also expected to associate the above ideas with the following leading philosophers of science: Carnap,
Russell, Fred Suppe, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, van Frassen, Ian Hacking, Larry Laudan, Philip Kitcher, Ronald Geire,
Ernst Nagel, Mary Hesse, Nancy Cartwright, Paul Thagard, etc.

Introductory books:

Philosophy of Science - A Very Short Introduction
Samir Okasha
Oxford University Press - 2002

The Golem - What Everyone should Know about Science
Harry Collins, Trevor Pinch
Cambridge University Press - 1996

What is this thing called science?
Alan Chalmers
Hackett 1999

 

Other than the above mentioned books, several selected papers from anthologies on the subject will be part of the course.

The above books provide a comprehensive and short introductions to the subject.

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