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PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (PHI446): DRAFT

A. V. RAVISHANKAR SARMA

1. Time and Place


Place: WL 228, Time: 10-11AM
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

2. Lecturer
• Lecturer: A. V. Ravishankar Sarma
• Level: Level-2
• Office: FB-671
• Phone: Office: 6137
You may contact me by e-mail: avrs@iitk.ac.in or telephone 6137 if you wish to
arrange an appointment (preferably on Friday and Saturday afternoon)

3. Books
• Theory and Reality, Peter Godfrey-Smith, University of Chicago Press,
2003.
• Understanding Philosophy of Science, James Ladyman,Routledge, London.
2002
• Hacking, I. (1983). Representing and Interven in Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge.
• Chalmers, A. F. (1982). What Is This Thing Called Science? Open Uni-
veristy Press, Milton Keynes, second edition.
• The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn, University of Chicago
Press, 1996. (Any edition that contains the postscript is fine.)
• Okasha Samir (2002), Short introduction to philosophy of science, Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
• Gillies, D. A., Philosophy of Science in the Twentieth Century: Four Cen-
tral Themes
• Readings distributed via Brihaspati

4. Web
The latest versions of course handouts and so on are at my personal web page:
http://home.iitk.ac.in/ avrs/avrs/PHI446/

5. Course Description
The course is based on how to reflect on science with the help of some philo-
sophical tools. It introduces some of the important issues in the area of philosophy
of science. Major positions such as inductivism (Bacon), falsificationism 9Popper),
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Verificationism, In commensurability (Kuhn), relativism (Feyerabend) will be dis-


cussed in greater detail with appropriate examples. We will discuss these positions
in Philosophy of science against the backdrop of major philosophical distinction
between science and Pseudo science or science and metaphysics. The course is
divided into three parts. Phase-1 is concerned with basic concepts of philosophy
of science and engages us in the discussion of various world views of philosophy
of sciece. Part-2 deals with understanding the meaning of scientific explanation,
Laws and its role in the scientific knowledge. Part-3 is concerned with selective and
important issues pertainng to 20th century philosophy of science. We will discuss
some intresting problems such as old evidence problem.
The course helps student to charateristically philosophical ways of thinking and
arguing, applying these specifically to the nature of scientific knowledge and im-
parts better appreciation of doing science. It helps us to understand the reasons
for the special status of science in finding the scientific method. It helps student in
answering questions such as: What is science? How does it work? When it works,
what kind of knowledge does it provide? Is there a scientific method? How do
experiments provide evidence for theories? What is the nature of scientific expla-
nation?

6. course readings
(1) Basic Concepts
– Introduction: Godfrey-Smith, Chapter-1, James Ladyman, Chapter-
1, A. F. Chalmers: Chapter-1
– Science and Pseudo Science:
– Bacon’s inductivism and scientific revolution
– Logical empiricism: Godfrey-Smith, Chater-2
– Induction and Confirmation: Godfrey-Smith, Chapter-2
– Karl Popper: Falsificationism: Godfrey-Smith, Chapter-4
– Logical Positivism:
– Thomas Kuhn and Revolutions: The structure of scientific
revolutions, Godfrey-Smith, Chapter 5, 6
– Lakatos and Feyerabend and Relativism Godfrey-Smith
Chapter 7
(2) Advanced concepts in Philosophy of science
– Realism and anti realism
– Laws and Explanation
– Explanation-2
(3) Some Issues in 20th century philosophy of science:
– Naturalistic Philosophy of science
– Scientific Realism: Godfrey-Smith, Chapter-12
– Bayesinism: Modern theories of evidence, Godfrey-smith, Chap-
ter 14
– Science and values

7. Evaluation
Your total grade will be made up of:
– Mid semester-1: 15%
– Midesemester-2: 15%
PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (PHI446): DRAFT 3

– End Semester: 40%.


– Attendence: 5
– Term Papers: 25%: Papers should be with in 4000 words. It
should be 10 pages long at the most. Papers above 5000 words
would not be evaluated. Only hand written papers will be eval-
uated. Any one who doesnt follow the pattern would loose their
marks. The pattern for the paper can be as follows:
∗ Abstract: 250 words
∗ Introduction and background:
∗ Problem
∗ ways out: your critical remarks
∗ Conclusion
∗ Bibliography

8. Tentative Deadlines
– Abstract: section of topic/write up of 250 words- February first
week
– Rough Draft of paper: one week after second mid sem–for com-
ments
– Final paper: one week before the final(end sem exam).

9. Plagiarism
All work submitted for this class should be genuinely your own. Any
words quoted from other sources should be attributed explicitly to those
sources (including web). If you are unsure whether your use of someone
elseâs work is legitimate, please dont hesitate to ask me. If you have doubts
about plagiarism, please visit the site http://www.plagiarism.org/. It
is better to get zero marks than copying.

10. Useful websites


– http://webpages.dcu.ie/ sheehanh/philosophy/links.htm
– philsci-archive.pitt.edu/, Philosophyof science archieves.
– http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/ janzb/science/