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About the Course    

CLASSES: 7:00-10:00, DSB B105, but for the last three classes: BSB 119.

INSTRUCTOR: Richard T. W. Arthur (rarthur at mcmaster.ca)

OFFICE: UH 305; ext. 23470         OFFICE HOURS: M 3:30-4:30 p.m.

ASSISTANT: Z.S. El Nabolsy (elnabozs at mcmaster.ca)

OFFICE: UH B113         OFFICE HOURS: Th 3:30-4:30 p.m

This course will introduce you to some key issues in the philosophy of science. In the first part of the course we will be engaging some of the classic issues: the role of experience, observation and experiment; scientific method: induction, logical empiricism, hypothetico-deductivism and falsification- ism; Kuhnian paradigms, incommensurability, research programmes; the status of scientific laws; and realism vs. antirealism. In the last quarter of the course we will be engaging specific issues in the metaphysics of physics, namely in the philosophy of space, time and spacetime. Here we will pool our resources with the Origins of Spacetime course taught by Jon Stone. We will examine such topics as relativity of simultaneity, curved space, and the possibility of time travel. (No previous knowledge of physics will be assumed.)

Objectives

      to provide a critical appreciation of the issues involved in determining what “scientific method” consists in, how science progresses, as well as related issues in scientific methodology;

      to encourage critical reflection on the metaphysics of science, questions concerning the reality of space and time, quarks, black holes, etc., and how we evaluate evidence for their reality;

      to help you acquire skills in problem-centred learning by encouraging the tackling of general issues through treating particular historical episodes and case studies;

      to enable the development of skills in gathering, presenting, and critically evaluating current literature on these issues.

© Richard T. W. Arthur 2016