Philosophy of Science (Online)

Course summary

  • Wed 24 Jan 2018 to Fri 06 Apr 2018
  • Online
  • From £260.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O17P367PHV
  • onlinecourses@conted.ox.ac.uk
  • Applications being accepted

Philosophy of Science (Online)



Overview

This course introduces the core issues in the philosophy of science, in particular the debates about the nature of the scientific method, theories of confirmation, the demarcation of science from non-science, the rationality of theory change, and scientific realism. Participants will be introduced to the key thinkers in philosophy of science.

The philosophy of science concerns the nature of science and what makes it distinctive among forms of human inquiry. The problem of distinguishing genuine science from disciplines or activities that do not deserve to be called scientific is closely linked to the problem of precisely characterising the scientific method.

This course provides an introduction to this subject beginning with the origins of modern science in the Scientific Revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and concluding with an introduction to the latest controversies among contemporary philosophers of science including the debate about the various forms of scientific realism. Along the way students will gain an appreciation for the importance of philosophy of science in the history of philosophy and an understanding of the ideas of the most famous names in the subject such as Bacon, Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

Unit 1: The historical background to contemporary philosophy of science: the Scientific Revolution

Unit 2: The Problem of Induction

Unit 3: Karl Popper and Falsificationism

Unit 4: Thomas Kuhn and the idea of scientific revolutions

Unit 5: Recent theories of the scientific method

Unit 6: Scientific realism

Unit 7: The problem of underdetermination

Unit 8: Contemporary antirealism: van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism

Unit 9: The problems of theory change for scientific realism

Unit 10: Recent developments

Recommended reading

To participate in this course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following books:

  • Ladyman, James, Understanding Philosophy of Science (Routledge, London, 2001) ISBN 0415221579
  • Curd, M. and Cover, J.A., Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues (Norton, New York, 2012) ISBN 0393920801

Certification

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Fees

EU Fee: £260.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00

Tutors

Dr Ilhaam Isaacs

Course aims

This course aims to introduce participants to the core issues in the philosophy of science, in particular to the debates about the nature of the scientific method, theories of confirmation, the demarcation of science from non-science, the rationality of theory change, and scientific realism. Participants will be introduced to the key thinkers in twentieth century philosophy of science such as Popper, Carnap, Kuhn, Hempel and van Fraassen.

Course Objectives

This course will enable participants to engage with the central debates in the philosophy of science and to understand the terminology and concepts presupposed by advanced literature in the area. They will also be enabled to appreciate the importance of philosophy of science in the history of philosophy more generally, and to apply their knowledge of the subject to contemporary debates about science policy, uncertainty and risk and the controversy about alternatives to evolution.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts
  • Group discussions of particular issues

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • The basic issues in the philosophy of science such as the demarcation problem, the debate among competing accounts of the scientific method, the problem of induction, and the debate about scientific realism.
  • The main theories of the nature of science.
  • The main arguments for and against various positions in relation to the above issues.


By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • The ability to communicate philosophical concepts clearly in written and spoken English.
  • The ability to understand more advanced issues and arguments in the philosophy of science
  • The ability to engage in contemporary debates about the nature of science.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

Application

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week - therefore a total of about 100 study hours.