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Philosophy of Science . . . . . . . Phil 3D03
The format of the Final Exam will be like
this.

Winter 2009 . | . Monday 2:30-5:20 p.m., BSB/ B154

Richard T. W. Arthur . | . Office: UH305 . . .Hours: Mon 11:30-12:20 p.m., Wed 2:30-3:30 p.m., Fri 1:30-2 p.m.

Description  

 Required Texts 

 Syllabus

Requirements

Paper Topics

Regulations

Description

In this course we will be taking a fresh look at some classical questions in the philosophy of science by engaging the issue of the so-called "science wars". Science, of course, has an exalted status in contemporary society, partly because of all the technological innovations that have stemmed from a scientific understanding of the world. The attack on that status by self-styled social constructivists has been met with some solid rejoinders by scientific realists like Sokal, famous for "Sokal's Hoax". We will use this as a background to help us engage issues such as: Is there a unique scientific method, which would enable us to distinguish a science like astronomy from a pseudoscience like craniometry? If not, how can we be sure that the referents of our current theories, say quarks and black holes, are any more real than phlogiston? If science is not cumulative, can it be said to progress? Indeed, is science an ideally rational enterprise, or only one among many viable intellectual traditions that society might adopt? And what are the implications of these questions for the relationship between science and society? Note: this is not a science course; it is a course about science, and no strong background in science is presumed.

Required Texts

  • Coursepack (extracts from some major thinkers in Phil of Sci, including Popper, Kuhn, and van Fraassen).
  • Alan Chalmers, What is this Thing Called Science?, McGraw-Hill, 2005. ISBN: 0-335-20109-1.
  • James Robert BROWN, Who Rules in Science? An Opinionated Guide ...,. Harvard University Press, 2005. ISBN: 0674013646
  • Paul K. Feyerabend, Against Method, Penguin.
  • Stephen Jay GOULD, The Mismeasure of Man (revised and expanded ed.), W. W. Norton, N.Y. 1996. $17.95 ISBN: 0-393-31425-1

Syllabus and discussion topics

 

first half of term

second half of term

Requirements

  • Each week you will outline a position on one of the discussion topics assigned; expect to be called upon in class to defend the stand you take; you should hand in your outline at the end of class. 2 written discussion papers (2-3 pages in length), based on what you regard as your best outlines, must be handed in for credit, and will be due Feb 9, Mar 30. All outlines should be submitted on March 30 for full credit. (20%)
  • A research paper (1500-2000 words), due on Friday, Mar 27. (40%)
  • Yes, really, Friday March 27th! You may drop it off in my mailbox in the Philosophy Department (UH 311). If that is inconvenient, you may e-mail it to me as an attachment in .doc or .pdf format.
  • Final Exam (40%)--Wednesday, April 22, 2-5 p.m. IWC 1 (1)

Regulations

  • Late assignments will be penalized at the rate of 5% for every day or part of day late.
  • Absences will be excused only for medical or similar reasons. If you miss an exam or a paper deadline, you will need a Dean's excuse. If you miss a class due to sickness, the discussion paper must be done prior to the next class.
  • The scale used by the Registrar's Office will be used to convert number grades into letter grades.
  • PLEASE RETAIN A HARD COPY OF ALL YOUR GRADED WORK!
  • Course evaluation forms will be distributed near the end of term.
  • Special arrangements may be made for students with disabilities. If you need assistance because of a disability, please contact the instructor as soon as possible
  • E-mail policy: It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email correspondence sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from the student's own McMaster email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student. Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster account

Academic Dishonesty

Academic Dishonesty consists in misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. Examples of academic dishonesty are 1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one's own or for which other credit has been obtained. 2. Improper collaboration in group work. 3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, specifically Appendix 3, located at http://www.mcmaster.ca/senate/academic/ac_integrity.htm

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