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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrea I. Woody
PHIL 560
Seattle Campus

Seminar in the Philosophy of Science

Class description

In this seminar we will be looking at representation and modeling in science. This is a topic that has received a great deal of attention in recent years, so there will be plenty of material to read and scrutinize. We will start with work that discusses the nature of representation itself, both generally and within science. Here we will read Goodman, Haugeland, Van Fraassen, Giere, Suarez, Hughes, Callendar, Perini, Frigg, Lopes, Lynch, and others. Then we will turn to issues of modeling in science, including issues surrounding theoretical modeling, the use of mathematics in science, computer simulation, and physical models. Here we will read work by Redhead, Wimsatt, Humphrey, Weisberg, Winsberg, Parker, Morrison, Morgan, Pincock, Ankeny, Knuuttila, Sterrett, and others.

Seminar sessions will be devoted mainly to discussion. Students will be expected to make class presentations and lead discussion, contribute short reading responses, and develop a substantial research project.

This would be a good seminar for students interested in representation generally, as well as those oriented toward philosophy of science in practice or wanting to develop a case study in any of the particular sciences. Projects could make connections, for example, to model organisms in biomedical sciences, the epistemology of climate modeling, visualization or graphical techniques in science, analogical reasoning, diagrammatic logic, the role of idealization or the use of false models, to name just a few of the possibilities.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The class will be run as a seminar, with brief lectures. The majority of time will be devoted to discussion, and student presentations will be frequent.

Recommended preparation

This seminar will presume a general background in philosophy and some familiarity with central topics within philosophy of science. Graduate students in the sciences or related disciplines such as history of science or science education are definitely welcome, space permitting, but should be prepared to do extra work to gain background in philosophy. Undergraduate philosophy majors with significant experience in philosophy of science will be considered, but priority will be given to graduate students.

Class assignments and grading

Students should be willing to participate in class discussion on a regular basis. Course requirements will include multiple class presentations and a substantial term paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Andrea I. Woody
Date: 02/07/2014