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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Lynn Hankinson Nelson
PHIL 460
Seattle Campus

Philosophy of Science

Critical study of the nature of scientific knowledge. Topics include the relation of theory to observation, the use of mathematics, how theories change, the requirements for the meaningfulness of a theory, and nature of confirmation.. Prerequisite: one PHIL course; recommended: PHIL 120 or PHIL 160.

Class description

In this quarter, PHIL 460 will be organized and taught as a “hybrid course”: part traditional and part online. After week one, we will meet on Thursdays in person and Tuesdays' material, as well as virtually all requirements will be submitted online. Critical study of the nature of scientific knowledge. Topics include the relation of theory to observation, the use of mathematics, how theories change, the requirements for the meaningfulness of a theory, and nature of confirmation. Recommended: PHIL 120 or PHIL 160; prerequisite: one PHIL course. Students will be introduced to both the "content" and the "methods" of contemporary philosophy of science, and actual historical episodes will be used, when possible, to illustrate the philosophical issues considered. TEXT: "Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues", Martin Curd and J.A. Cover; Theory and Reality, Peter Godfrey-Smith.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

As an upper level philosophy course, extensive time will be devoted to discussion guided by assigned readings, reading questions, and discussions points brought to meetings. Meetings will include lecture as well. As an introduction to contemporary philosophy of science, the course will have a survey format. Requirements include several short papers and regular participation, including group work.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


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 Lynn Hankinson Nelson
Date: 03/02/2014