Postgraduate Course: Science, Nature and Social Values MSc (PHIL11169)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||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? 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.
Shared with UG course Science, Nature and Social Values PHIL10171.
For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
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)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 11,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||One 2,500 word end-of-semester essay (worth 100%)«br /»
Word limit: 2500 words maximum (excluding references)
||Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay by week 6 deadline on Turnitin via Learn. The essay cannot be draft of summative essay but it can be on the same topic.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of central debates in philosophy of science
- learn and understand relevant scientific topics
- articulate reasons for defending or rejecting specific philosophical views
- acquire the ability to bring scientific topics to bear on philosophical view
- improve skills in writing (esp. clarity and originality) and argumentation
|SOURCES FOR BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE AND GENERAL REFERENCE|
Baumgartner, M. (2008) 'Regularity Theories Reassessed', Philosophia 36, 327-54.
Beebee, H. C. Hitchcock, and P. Menzies (eds.) (2009) Oxford Handbook of Causation (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Beebee, H. and Sabbarton-Leary, N. (2010) The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds (Routledge)
Boyd, R. (1992) 'Constructivism, realism, and philosophical method'. In J. Earman (ed.) Inference, Explanation, and Other Frustrations. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Boyd, R. (1999a) 'Kinds as the 'workmanship of men': realism, constructivism, and natural kinds'. In J. Nida-Rümelin (ed.) Rationalität, Realismus, Revision: Proceedings of the Third International Congress, Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Boyd, R. (1999b) 'Homeostasis, species, and higher taxa'. In R. Wilson (ed.) Species. New Interdisciplinary Essays. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Dupré, J. (1989) 'Wilkerson on natural kinds', Philosophy 64, 248-51.
Earman, J. (2002) 'Laws of nature', in Y. Balashov and Alex Rosenberg Philosophy of science: contemporary readings (New York: Routledge), 115-126.
Ellis, B. (2001) Scientific essentialism (Cambridge University Press).
Hacking, I. (1991b) 'On Boyd'. Philosophical Studies 61: 149-54.
Hacking, I. (1993) 'Working in a New World: the Taxonomic Solution'. In P. Horwich (ed.) World Changes: Thomas Kuhn and the Nature of Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
(1999) The social construction of what? (Harvard University Press)
(2007) 'Natural kinds: rosy dawn, scholastic twilight', in A. O'Hear Philosophy of Science, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 61, 203-240.
Khalidi, M. (1998) 'Natural kinds and crosscutting categories', Journal of Philosophy 95, pp. 33-50.
Lange, M. (2000) Natural laws in scientific practice (Oxford University Press).
(2009) Laws and Lawmakers (Oxford University Press).
Mackie, J. L. (1974) The Cement of the Universe (Oxford: Clarendon), ch. 3.
Magnus, P. D. (2012) Scientific Enquiry and Natural Kinds (Palgrave).
Mumford, S. (2004) Laws of Nature (Routledge).
Mumford. S. et. al. (2006) 'Looking for Laws', symposium review, by Brian Ellis, Alexander Bird, Stathis Psillos with a reply by Stephen Mumford, Metascience 15, 437-469
Riggs, P. J (1996) Natural kinds, laws of nature, and scientific methodology (Kluwer).
Campbell, J. K., O'Rourke, M., and Slater, M. (2011) Carving Nature at its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science (MIT Press).
Tooley, M. (1987) Causation: a Realist Approach (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Wilkerson, T. E. (1993) 'Species, essences, and the names of natural kind', Philosophical Quarterly 43, 1-19.
Wilson, R. A. (1999) Species. New interdisciplinary essays (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press).
Online encyclopaedia entries and database:
On natural kinds, see Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy entry: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-kinds/ (accessed on 2 August 2012)
||Please see Learn
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||1. Critical thinking
2. Articulating reasons pro and con
3. Effective writing
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||The course is taught by Dr Michela Massimi
|Keywords||Philosophy of Science,Natural Kinds,Laws of Nature,Causation
|Course organiser||Dr Michela Massimi
Tel: (0131 6)50 3662
|Course secretary||Ms Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002