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

Undergraduate Course: Philosophy, Science and Policy (PHIL10208)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course covers Philosophy of Science, and in particular a range of topics in philosophy of science that have direct relevance to science policy.
Course description The aim of this course is to introduce a range of topics in philosophy of science and show their relevance to debates on science-policy. For example, how are scientific models used to make projections? Which policy decisions do they license? What is the inter-relation between scientific evidence, causation and decision-making?

In the weekly "Science Policy Lab" tutorials and associated seminar and lecture, topics covered include: the role of science advisors, science and values, climate science, epidemiological modelling and predictions, ethnobotany, traditional knowledge, cultural rights, among others.

We will read landmark science policy reports from agencies such as the United Nations, UNESCO, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), among many others; we will practice science policy writing and discuss underlying philosophical themes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017) AND Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017) and Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) must gain permission from the Course Organiser before enrolling on this course.

Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) and students outside Philosophy degrees are permitted to take this course without having met the Philosophy pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality which are for Philosophy students only. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that 3rd year Philosophy courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, 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) Midterm assessment 40% (essay OR science policy report, word limit 1500)
Final essay 60% (word limit 2500)
Feedback Formative essay before summative essay
Use the weekly class tutorials to discuss/prepare for topics that can become the object of the science-policy report
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of a relevant area in philosophy of science
  2. Demonstrate critical skills and writing skills in philosophy
  3. Effectively write a science policy report
  4. Effectively communicate about complex topics in science
Reading List
Representative readings:

Douglas, Heather 2009, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Elliott, Kevin (2011) Is a Little Pollution Good for You? Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harding, Sandra, 2015, Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Kitcher, Philip (2001) Science, Truth and Democracy (OUP)

Longino, Helen E., 1990, Science as Social Knowledge, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Winsberg, Eric (2018) Philosophy and Climate Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking
Effective communicators
Able to cross disciplinary boundaries between humanities and the sciences
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Michela Massimi
Tel: (0131 6)50 3662
Course secretary
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