Ideals of Scientific Explanation and the Nature of Its Objects

Philosophy 310
Bryn Mawr College
Spring, 2003
Mondays, 2-4, Guild 210

This course will examine aims of scientific explanation, the realist/anti-realist controversy in the philosphy of science and the idea of growth of scientific knowledge. It will also consider the nature of scientific revolutions and the bearing of indeterminacy in physics, biology and neurobiology on objectivity and truth.

Texts include:

  • Peter Kosso, Appearance and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics
  • T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  • Peter MacCormack, Starmaking
  • David Miller, ed., Popper Selections
Recommended readings include:
  • Chhanda Gupta, Realism versus Realism
  • Rom Harre and Michael Krausz, Varities of Realism
  • Michael Krausz, Rightness and Reasons
  • Michael Krausz, Limits of Rightness
Additional assigned readings include:
  • Paul Grobstein, Getting It Less Wrong, The Brain's Way
  • Selections from Daniel Dennet, Darwin's Dangerous Thought, Steven Johnson, Emergence, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, and William James.
Course instructors: Contributor:

One course in philosophy or natural science.

Course requirements:
Attendence at and active participation in class sessions. Three papers (5-8 pages each). Opportunities for in-class presentations and for continuing conversation through a public on-line course forum will also be available.

Course Schedule - with links to selected notes

Course website:

Course on-line forum:

Student papers

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