Phil 3350 – Philosophy of Science (Fall 2013)


First Essay Assignment

Handout: Introduction to Bayes’s Theorem

Second Essay Assignment

Take-Home Midterm

Third Essay Assignment

Required Texts:

Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues (2nd edition), ed. by Curd, Cover, and Pincock (isbn: 039391903X)

Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology, by Kim Sterelny and Paul Griffiths (isbn: 0226773043)

Additional Useful Links:

The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: Here is a link to Gould and Lewontin’s classic critique of the adaptationist fallacy.

Error Statistics: Deborah Mayo runs a very active blog about her views on statistics and other issues in the philosophy of science. Take a look if you’re interested in learning more after reading her paper this Friday (10-4-13).

Bayes’s Theorem Explained: This is a link to the explanation of Bayes’s theorem that Ian mentioned in class today (9-27-13). I haven’t read through it all, but it looks helpful. If the reading for Monday gets too intense, read through this to help you out!

This article about a paradox regarding black holes: presents an interesting account of how scientists try to resolve inconsistencies between rival theories. This sort of discussion will be relevant to our readings on theory choice. Plus, you’ll get to wonder about whether falling into a black hole means you die by being stretched into a noodle or by being incinerated first!

Hasok Chang: Scientific Pluralism and the Mission of History and Philosophy of Science (1 hour, 15 minutes): Chang makes his case for pluralism and for the value of science studies generally. This will be relevant to to our readings on intertheoretic reduction. Plus, you’ll get to see a cool video of gold unexpectedly dissolving in electrified salt water! (Skip the first 15 minutes to get to the beginning of the presentation itself.)

Strength of Gravity Shifts (New Scientist): This is certainly not the best piece of science journalism out there. But it might be worth a read to test how you think some of the theorists of science we’ve read would respond. Scientists have had trouble getting precise and consistent measurements of G (the gravitational constant), with measurements varying by upwards of +/- 300 ppm. What is the appropriate inference to draw here? Is this constant really shifting, or is there something wrong with the experimental setup? Should theory be modified or should auxiliary hypotheses be questioned?

Grading Policies