PP2SCI-Philosophy of Science

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:5
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof John Preston

Email: j.m.preston@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
To enable students to gain a critical understanding of key arguments and issues in the philosophy of natural science, combining historical awareness of influential writings and perspectives from the history of philosophy until the present-day.

Aims:
To enable students to gain a critical understanding of key arguments and issues in the philosophy of natural science, combining historical awareness of influential writings and perspectives from the history of philosophy until the present-day.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students should be able to give a critical account of developments in the philosophy of natural science, especially its debates about causation, explanation, laws of nature, natural kinds, scientific methodology, and the interpretation of scientific theories (realism vs. anti-realism).

Additional outcomes:
Students will gain an overview of one of the central threads in the Western philosophical tradition, and should be able to connect what they have learnt with other aspects of philosophy, notably epistemology and metaphysics. The object of the course is not just to impart factual information but to encourage students to develop their own critical perspective on the issues.

Outline content:
The module will cover some/all of the following topics:

1. Induction and inductivism
2. Problems with inductivism
3. Falsificationism
4. Scientific revolutions
5. Scientific realism/anti-realism
6. Underdetermination
7. Explanation
8. Laws of nature
9. Causes and causation
10. Natural kinds and essentialism

Recommended vacation reading:

1. S. Okasha, Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)
2. S. Psillos & M. Curd (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science (London: Routledge, 2008).

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching consists of two lectures per week plus a seminar involving an assessed oral presentation.

Lectures will provide frequent opportunity for questions and discussion, to enable students to develop their own critical reactions to the problems and arguments discussed.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
       
Total hours by term 200.00
       
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Coursework
2 x 1,500-2,000 word essays worth 15% each of the module mark, and an oral presentation worth 10% of the module mark.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    The final examination paper lasts 2 hours, and requires that each candidate answer 2 questions from a choice of 6.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August by re-examination only.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 9 January 2017

    Things to do now