Thinking About Science

Overview

An accessible and engaging exploration of key questions in philosophy of science.

What is science, and how does it differ from pseudo-science? How can we justify scientific theories, if at all (according to Hume, we can’t)? What role does falsifying theories play in scientific progress (Popper’s Falsificationism)? Could a white shoe confirm that all ravens are black (Hempel: it seems it can!)? What is scientism, and is it a bad thing? What is a scientific explanation?

You will be given accessible and engaging introductions to these key topics, with plenty of illustrative examples. 

This lecture series allows those new to the subject to explore and become much more informed about key ideas and arguments. No background knowledge is required. 

Please note: this lecture series will close to enrolments at 23:59 BST on 12 October 2023.

Programme details

Lecture programme

Lectures take place on Mondays, from 2–3.15pm (UK time)

Monday 16 October 2023
How do I know the future will resemble the past? Hume's problem of induction

Monday 23 October 2023
Falsification: Popper's solution to the problem of induction

Monday 30 October 2023
Science vs. pseudoscience

Monday 6 November 2023
What is scientific explanation? Hempel and beyond

Monday 13 November 2023
Confirmation: two strange paradoxes

Monday 20 November 2023
Are we justified in thinking electrons exist? Scientific realism vs. antirealism

How and when to watch

Each lecture will last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, followed by questions.

For those attending in person at the Lecture Theatre at Rewley House, registration takes place at 1.45pm before the first lecture (16 October only). Tea and coffee are provided in the Common Room after each lecture, from 3.15pm.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time. If joining from another time zone, please note that the first two lectures will take place from 2-3.15pm BST (UTC+1), whereas the lectures from 30 October onwards will take place from 2-3.15pm GMT (UTC). Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date.

Fees

Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £155.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £140.00

Funding

If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses

Tutor

Dr Stephen Law

Stephen Law is a Departmental Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of the Certificate of Higher Education at OUDCE. His research focuses on the philosophy of mind, language, metaphysics and on philosophy of religion. He also writes many accessible online articles and edits the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK: Philosophy for Everyone.

Application

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

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.