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Philosophy and Methodology of Sciences

General data

Course ID: BSTS-Phi Erasmus code / ISCED: (unknown) / (unknown)
Course title: Philosophy and Methodology of Sciences Name in Polish: Philosophy and Methodology of Sciences
Department: (in Polish) Biuro do spraw obsługi projektu "Interdyscyplinarne studia doktoranckie STŚ"
Course groups:
ECTS credit allocation (and other scores): (not available)
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Language: English
Short description:

The course begins with a basic of logic, covering classical propositional calculus and introducing a distinction between proof and truth in a model. It next discusses probabilistic reasoning of the Byesian variety. Then it offers an overview of philosophical problems on which sciences have some import: the problem of causation, the question of determinism, the issue of human agency and free will. The final part of the course analyses what scientific explanations are, ending with epistemological questions of what knowledge, or scientific knowledge is.

Full description:

- Logic: classical propositional calculus

- Logic: proof vs. truth; the concept of completeness

- Bayesianism as an art of reasoning

- Bayesian limit theorems

- Causation – the regularity accounts

- Causation – the „counterfactual” accounts

- Laplacean determinism

- Determinism: true or false?

- Perspectives on human agency

- Agency, free will, and determinism: compatibilism vs. incompatibilism

- Models of explanations and their paradoxes (law-covering model, statistical relevance model and Simpson‘s paradox, Erotetic model (why-questions)

- What’s knowledge? (classical concept of knowledge, Gettier’s paradoxes, non-classical concepts of knowledge)


Cartwright, N. How the laws of physics lie, New York: Clarendon, 1983.

Friedman, M. “Explanation and scientific understanding”, Journal of Philosophy, 1974.

Glymour C. Theory and Evidence, Chicago UP, 1983, pp. 63-93.

Hempel, K. Philosophy of Natural Science, Oxford Prentice-Hall, 1966, Ch. 5.

Ladyman, J. Understanding Philosophy of Science, Routledge 2001

Lambert, K. & Brittain, G. C. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, Ridgeview: Atascadero 3rd ed., 1987.

Lipton, P. Inference to the Best Explanation, Routlege 2004, Ch. 5.

Okasha, S. Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford 2002

Popper, C. Logic of Scientific Discovery, Routledge 2002, pp. 3-26.

Psillos, S. & Curd, M. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science, Routledge 2010

Salmon W., “Why ask,"Why?"? An inquiry concerning scientific explanation”, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Society, 1978.

Van Fraassen, B.: The Scientific Image, Clarendon, Oxford, pp. 134-157.

Learning outcomes:

The course focuses on philosophical foundations of scientific methods. It provides an analysis of various aspects of scientific reasoning, incl. explanation, confirmation, hypotheses formation. It discusses what the nature of science is, paying attention to particularities of its many branches. It teaches how to apply abstract knowledge to solving of particular problems. The course enhances students’ abilities of cooperative work as well as their critical thinking


The student knows

- philosophical criteria of telling science from non-science, esp. pseudo-science;

- the specific sense in which science delivers knowledge;

- the complexities of testing hypotheses that stem from implicit and explicit assumptions, indispensable auxiliaries, idealizations and ceteris paribus clause;

- the concept of scientific knowledge and explanation;

- controversies about metaphysical import of the sciences, in particular with respect to issues of causation, (in)determinism, and agency.


The student is able:

- to identify and tentatively solve methodological problems in typical experimental situations and in interdisciplinary research;

- to offer and discuss alternative interpretations of an experiment/observation;

- to tentatively assess relative explanatory merits and drawbacks of rival hypotheses.


The student

- is critical towards experimental design and interpretations of experimental results;

- is open to novel ideas, including those that come from other branches of science;

- perceives criticism as a mode of collaboration rather than competition.

Assessment methods and assessment criteria:

The lectures deal with seven broad topics in the philosophy and methodology of sciences. It is expected that a student will choose one of these topics, extend her knowledge by some suitable readings (to be suggested or consulted with the lecturer). Ideally, she should form her own view on the subject, taking sides with one party of the corresponding debate. At the exam, the student is expected to defend her position, or (if she failed to form one), to discuss pros and cons of extant responses in the debate of her choice.

This course is not currently offered.
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