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DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2017/2018

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Science, Nature, and Social Values (PHIL10171)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course, consisting of lectures and seminars, addresses some central issues in contemporary philosophy of science. How does science represent nature? And to what extent do social values and human interests enter into the scientific image? Looking at the debate on natural kinds (across the physical, life and social sciences), but also at long-standing controversies on the nature of causation and laws of nature, this course explores the extent to which scientific investigation of nature might (or might not) be shaped by us as human agents with specific values and interests.
Course description The course, consisting of lectures and seminars, addresses some central issues in contemporary philosophy of science. How does science represent nature? And to what extent do social values and human interests enter into the scientific image?
These questions take us right to the heart of a host of interconnected metaphysical, epistemological and semantic notions. Are natural kinds carving nature at its joints? Or are they social constructs of scientific practices? How does this debate affect the way scientists think of biological species (e.g. cats), chemical kinds (e.g. gold), and social kinds (e.g. refugees)? Turning to causation: is there any causal glue holding the world together? Or is causation a projection of our human inferential habits? When it comes to laws of nature, should we regard laws as prescribing the way nature ought to be? Or just as describing empirical regularities that once again we as human agents in a society might identify as relevant?
Looking at the debate on natural kinds (across the physical, life and social sciences), and at long-standing controversies on the nature of causation and laws of nature, this course explores the extent to which scientific investigation of nature might (or might not) be shaped by us as human agents with specific values and interests.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Philosophy of Science 1 (PHIL08005)
Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  24
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) a. One mid-term essay of 1500 words (worth 30 %)
b. Weekly précis of 500 words on an assigned reading from seminar discussion (worth 10%)
c. One 2,500 word end-of-term essay (worth 60%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of central debates in philosophy of science
  2. Learn and understand relevant scientific topics
  3. Articulate reasons for defending or rejecting specific philosophical views
  4. Acquire the ability to bring scientific topics to bear on philosophical views
  5. Improve skills in writing (esp. clarity and originality) and argumentation
Reading List
Quine, W. V. (1969) Natural kinds. In Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. New York and London: Columbia University Press. Pp. 114 -138. Mellor, D. H. (1977) Natural Kinds. In British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 28,
Boyd, R. (1991) Realism, anti-foundationalism, and the enthusiasm for natural kinds. Philosophical Studies 61: 127 48. Boyd, R. (2010) Realism, natural kinds, and Philosophical Method. In H. Beebee and N. Sabbarton-Leary (eds.) The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds, Routledge.
Hacking, I. (1991) A Tradition of Natural Kinds. Philosophical Studies 61: 109 126. Dupré, J. (1981) Natural kinds and biological taxa. Philosophical Review 90: 6690.
Joseph LaPorte (2004) Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change (CUP), ch. 2 and 4.
Russell, B. (1913) On the Notion of Cause, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 13, 126. Hitchcock, C. ¿What Russell got right¿, in Corry and Price (eds.) (2007) Causation, physics and the constitution of reality. Russell's Republic Revisited (OUP), 4565.
Chakravartty, A. (2007) Causal realism and causal processes, ch. 4 of Chakravartty A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism (Cambridge University Press), pp. 89 118. Dowe, P. (2009) Causal process theories, in H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock, and P. Menzies (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Causation (OUP), ch. 10.
Psillos, S. (2009) Regularity Theories, in H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock, and P. Menzies (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Causation (OUP), ch. 7. Beebee, H. (2006) ¿Does Anything Hold the Universe Together?, Synthese 149, 509- 33.
Price, H. (2007) Causal perspectivalism¿, in Corry and Price (eds.) Causation, physics and the constitution of reality. Russell's Republic Revisited (OUP), 250 292. Price, H. and Weslake, B. (2009) ¿The time-asymmetry of causation, in H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock, and P. Menzies (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Causation (OUP), ch. 20.
Chakravartty, A. (2007) Dispositions, property identity, and laws of nature, ch. 5 of Chakravartty A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism (Cambridge University Press), pp. 119-150. Bird, A. (2007) Dispositional essentialism and the laws of nature, ch. 3 of A. Bird Nature's Metaphysics. Laws and Properties (Oxford University Press), pp. 43-65.
Carroll, J. W. (1990) The Humean Tradition, Philosophical Review 99, 185-219. Beebee, H. (2000) The non-governing conception of laws of nature, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62, 571-94.
Mumford, S. (2004) Laws in Nature (Routledge), chapters 8 and 9 (pp. 127-159). Mumford, S. (2005) Laws and lawlessness, Synthese 144, 397-413.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Contacts
Course organiserDr Michela Massimi
Tel: (0131 6)50 3662
Email: Michela.Massimi@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMiss Ann-Marie Cowe
Tel: (0131 6)50 3961
Email: Annmarie.Cowe@ed.ac.uk
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