Philosophy of Science - PL606

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 30 (15) DR DN Corfield







The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of science. Texts to be studied will be drawn from a list which includes major works by philosophers such as Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Salmon, etc. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.
Themes to be studied will include: the nature of scientific theory change, the status of scientific claims, the methodology of scientific reasoning, the prospects for automating scientific reasoning.

The course will cover a range of topics such as:

Inductivism versus falsificationism
Research Programmes
Probabilistic Reasoning
Causal Reasoning
Mathematical Reasoning


This module appears in:

Contact hours

4 hours per week for 10 teaching weeks


Also available under code PL580 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

100% Coursework

Preliminary reading

Indicative reading:

T Kuhn - 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' Third edition. University of Chicago Press, 1996]

D. Gillies Philosophy of science in the twentieth century: Four central themes. Blackwell. 1993

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

All students, Levels 5 and 6:
Students who successfully complete the module will have:

1. Gained an understanding of some of the major theories of scientific reasoning.

2. Through their study of these theories, students will have engaged critically with, and enhanced their understanding of, some of the central philosophical issues in this area concerning the status of scientific claims, the nature of scientific theory change, confirmation of scientific hypotheses, and causal reasoning in science.

3. Acquired the ability to engage in a close critical reading of some of major texts in the philosophy of science.

This module will contribute to the aims of the Philosophy Programme by enabling students to find out about and discuss central areas of philosophy – namely epistemology and metaphysics – in the context of science (A2). The module will allow students to practise their analytical and critical skills whilst considering some of the most interesting material in philosophy. (See all of section B, and, particularly, C2, C5, C6, C7, C8 and C9.) It will also give them practise of working on their own and in groups, thus enabling them to take their analytical and critical skills to situations that they will encounter once they have left the University (all of D, and see 12 below).
In addition, Level 6 students will approach the material in this module at a higher level and in a more critical fashion than Level 5 students. Level 6 students will be expected to write and discuss whilst paying attention to articles, books and ideas, commensurate with advanced undergraduate study.

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