2015-2016 academic year

Philosophy of Science (22305)

Degree/study: Degree in Humanities
Year: 3rd-4th
Term: 3st
Number of ECTS credits: 5 credits
Hours of study dedication: 125 hours
Teaching language or languages: English
Teaching Staff: Daniele Cozzoli

Office Hours: Mon-Wed 11:00 - 12:00 pm office n. 20.262 (building Jaume I)


1. Presentation of the subject

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of science. Emphasis is placed on the historical development of philosophical issues. The course is in three parts. In the first part, it is explained how a number of philosophical notions evolved in order to explain main scientific theories and concepts of twentieth-century science. Descartes, Bacon, Hume and other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century philosophers developed conceptual tools apt to explain the New Science. The distinction between science and metaphysics, the problem of induction, the scientific discovery, the status of truth, are all examples of philosophical issues developed in the seventeenth century and still debated in the 20th and the 21st century. This part of the course will show how these concepts were modified in order to explain the debate on the foundations of mathematics, and on the quantum theory and the relativity theory of the first half of the Twentieth century. Main topics are the foundational programs in the philosophy of mathematics, the logical empiricism, the philosophical ideas of Wittgenstein's Tractatus and Popper's fallibilism. The second part of the course focuses on the development of a New Philosophy of science in the 1950s and in the 1960s in the works of Th. S. Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend and Imre Lakatos. Such authors transformed the philosophy of science from a logical analysis of scientific theories to a historic-philosophical activity. Their philosophical view is explained in the historical context of Cold War. The third part of the course deals with the sociological turn in the philosophy of science of the late 1970s and with the latest developments of the discipline. Ideas of authors such as Bruno Latour, Pierre Bourdieu, Simon Schaffer, Steven Shapin, and Ian Hacking are discussed.


2. Competences to be attained

Transferable skills

Specific competences

1. Discussing philosophical topics

2. Introduction to the academic writing

3. Work in groups

4. Applying philosophical analysis to the

nowadays scientific discourse

5. Working with primary and secondary

philosophical sources

1. Reading and interpreting texts in the

philosophy of science

2. Writing a philosophical essay

3. Knowledge of the most important topics in the philosophy of science

4.Understanding philosophical ideas concerning science within their historical context


3. Contents

 1. What is the philosophy of science? Some topics of the philosophical analysis of science in the seventeenth-century philosophy of science. Bacon, Hume and the problem of induction.

2. Basic notions of propositional logic. The crisis of the foundations of mathematics. Foundationalism in the philosophy of mathematics: Frege's and Russell's logicism.

3. The logical empiricism. Carnap, Hempel, Schlick and the quest for an inductive logic. Russel's logical atomism.

4 Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and its influence in linguistics the philosophy.

5. Popper's fallibilism.

6 Brouwer's Intuitionism. Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and its impact in the philosophy of science of the 1950s. The Duhem - Quine thesis and the structure of scientific theories.

7. The New Philosophy of science 1: Th. Kuhn and the scientific revolutions.

8. The New Philosophy of science 2: Popperian response to Kuhn. The Methodology of Research programmes. Lakatos' revision of Popper's fallibilism  and Paul Feyerabend's methodological anarchism

9 Lakatos' resume of Descartes' method in Proofs and Refutations and the critics to Hilbert's program. Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

10 The sociological turn in the philosophy of science: Bruno Latour and his critics. Shapin and Schaffer's Leviathan and the construction of a scientific fact. The science wars.

11 The Sokal Hoax and the return of scientific realism.


4. Assessment

20% mid-term paper of 1,000 words length; 30% presentation of an article in groups of 2-3 students and class attendance; 50% final written exam.


The final exam will concern topics and texts discussed in class during lectures and seminars. Students who miss lectures and seminars are responsible for everything they miss, including notes, announcements and texts distributed in class.


Recuperation Exam:

50% final written exam; 20% mid term paper; and, for those who failed the presentation in class and the attendance requirement, 30% review (some 1,000 pages) of one of the books of the following list:


Bauer, H. Beyond Velikovsky: the History of a Public Controversy, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984

Feyerabend, P.  Killing Time. The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1995.

Fuller, S. Thomas Kuhn. A Philosophical History of Our Times, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2000.

Hacking, I. The Social Construction of What?, Cambridge Ma: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Latour, B. Laboratory Life, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Latour, B. Aramis. Or the Love of Technology, Cambridge Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1996.

Latour, B. The Pasteurization of France, Cambridge Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1993.

Reisch, G. How the Cold War transformed the Philosophy of Science to the icy Slopes of Logic, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Sardar, Z. Thomas Kuhn and Science Wars, Duxford: Icon, 2000.

Schaffer, S. - Shapin, S. Leviathan and Air Pump, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Sokal, A. - Bricmont, J. Imposturas intellectuales, Barcelona, Paidós, 1999



Students who need to recuperate the exam cannot choose a book to be reviewed not included in this list



5. Bibliography and teaching resources

5.1. Basic bibliography

- A dossier of texts is available at OCE.

- List of articles for class presentation (available in aula moodle):

Biagioli, M. (1990) The Anthropology of Incommensurability, Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci., Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 183-209, 1990.

Bell, D. F. (2001) "Text, Context: Transatlantic Sokal", Yale French Studies, No. 100, pp. 25-40.

Flax, J. (1981) "Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Science: Critique or Resistance" The Journal of Philosophy, 78(10): 561-569.

Friedman, M. Kant, Kuhn, and the Rationality of Science, Philosophy of Science, 69(2): 171 - 90, 2002.

Galison, P. (1990) "Aufbau/Bauhaus: Logical Positivism and Architectural Modernism" Critical Inquiry, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Summer, 1990), pp. 709-752.

Garber, D. (2001) "Descartes and the Scientific revolutions: Some Kuhnian Reflections", Perspectives on Science, 9(4): 405 - 22.

Gillies, D. (2005) "Hempelian and Kuhnian approaches in
the philosophy of medicine: the Semmelweis case", Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. & Biomed. Sci. 36 (2005) 159-181.

Ladyman, J. (1998) What is Structural Realism? Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci., Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 409-424.

N.B. All students are required to read these articles in advance for the seminars.


5.2. Complementary bibliography

Brown, H. I. (1993) Perception, Theory and Commitment. The New Philosophy of Science, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,.

Curd, M. - Cover, J. A. eds. (1998) Philosophy of Science. The Central Issues, New York: Norton.

Godfrey-Smith, P. (2003) Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, Chicago: Chicago University Press,.

Gillies, D. (1993) Philosophy of Science of the XXth Century. Four Central Themes, Oxford: Basil Blackwell,.

Klee, R. (1997) Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, Oxford: Oxford University Press,.

Ladyman, J. (2002) Understanding Philosophy of Science, Routledge: London.


5.3. Teaching resources

see aula moodle

6. Methodology

see aula moodle

7. Planning of activities

see aula moodle