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Week 1: What is this thing called science?


Michela Massimi and Duncan Pritchard

In this Introductory session, we introduce you to the broad field of 'philosophy of science' and clarify some
of the central questions that philosophers ask about science. In particular, we briefly review the nature of
scientific knowledge and debates about the scientific method, from induction to Karl Popper's falsification.
We also discuss the problem of underdetermination, and Thomas Kuhn's view of scientific knowledge--both central to our following lectures on philosophy of cosmology.

Video Lectures
This week's lecture is split into three parts. Click the links for the videos:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: What is Science?
Part 3: Duhem and Kuhn
You can join the discussion in the Week 1 forum.

Here you can find slides from the first week's lectures.
Here you can find a transcript for each of the lectures:
Lecture 1.1 Introduction
Lecture 1.2 What is Science?
Lecture 1.3 Duhem and Kuhn

We've included a practice quiz for the first week. This won't effect your overall grade - it's here to give you
a chance to see what it's like to take a quiz.

Other Online Resources

Epistemic relativism

Discussions of epistemic relativism often go hand-in-hand with discussions of relativism more generally,
with philosophical treatments of the former in isolation tending to be quite advanced. For more on
relativism more generally, you may find this entry by Chris Swoyer in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of
Philosophy useful, though be warned that it is quite hard-going. Alternatively, for an accessible (albeit
rather partisan) book on relativism, which also specifically covers epistemic relativism, see Paul
Boghossian'sFear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism, (Oxford University Press, 2007).
Inductivism and Falsificationism
For a useful overview of the distinction between inductive and deductive inferences, see the entry on
'Deductive and Inductive Arguments' in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
For more on Karl Popper's work, including his defence of falsificationism, see Stephen Thornton's entry in
the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.
Scientific Realism
Please see the excellent entry by Anjan Chakravartty in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
On underdetermination see the very thorough entry in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
On Duhem, you may want to read the very interesting entry by Roger Ariew in the Stanford
Encyclopaedia of Philosophy\
On Kuhn, see the excellent entry by Alexander Bird in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
On Popper, see this comprehensive introduction in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
In 2012, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions celebrated its 50th anniversary with workshops,
conferences and symposia all around the world. On the occasion, The British Journal for the Philosophy
of Science published a journal's virtual issue which is freely accessible here:
(see in particular the special introductory article by Alexander Bird)

Created Wed 27 Aug 2014 4:28 AM PET

Last Modified Fri 24 Oct 2014 10:06 AM PET