The required texts for this course (first two below) are available from the Campus Bookstore
• Peter J. Bowler and Iwan Rhys Morus, Making Modern Science; A Historical Survey, University of Chicago Press, 2005, ISBN 0-226-06861-7 (pb.)
• Maureen Christie, The Ozone Layer: A Philosophy of Science Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0521-65908-6 (pb.)
• Assigned reading will also be found on the MyUH website for this course in the form of files labeled WeekN.doc, or WeekN.pdf (0
Course description: This course will survey the history of “modern” natural science (1600 to the present) and its involvements with religion, technology, medicine and war. The course will also consider claims of ideological and gender bias as well as issues specific to the philosophy of science such as the nature of explanation, the role of prediction, theory selection, crucial experiments, peer review and “scientific consensus” as well as the issues raised by the use of computer-implemented models of global natural systems.
Assignments: Reading assignments appear on the course calendar. Writing assignments and participation exercises for the first five weeks are set out on a separate sheet of paper following the “advisories” (below). Precise assignments (questions to be addressed, etc.) for the rest of the semester will be set in this way in three to five week blocks closer to the dates the assignments are due.
‘Participation’ will usually involve brief written answers to questions about assigned reading, but may include questions on reading that is otherwise classified as “optional”. See ‘Assessment’ (below) for how these contribute to the final grade. To receive credit for a participation exercise, students must be present in class with the responses they have prepared on hard copy. (Email submissions of participation exercises receive half credit.) Students who attend class unprepared or who are unable to attend class may receive half credit for each exercise they hand in within a week of the original assignment (or—in unusual circumstances—at a date agreed after consultation with the instructor.)
Assessment: A ‘plus and minus’ grading scale will be used with numerical equivalents based on A=10, A-=9 down to D=1. The final grade will be based on weighted averages of grades received on essays and tests and on a grade based solely on the quantity of participation exercises credited (together with a possible bonus for contributions to class discussion). Tests will count 40% toward the final grade, essays 40%, class attendance and participation 20%.
The mid-term and final tests will consist of questions (and words to be defined) selected from “review sheets”, which will be issued with the blocks of assignments that will be set periodically throughout the semester. The first of these review sheets is included with this syllabus following the assignments.
This course is writing intensive. Three 3-page and three 4-page assignments are due on the dates set out on the summary course calendar; all of these assignments must be completed to pass this course. On all these assignments you will have one week after the return of your essay with comments to redraft it for a better grade, if you are not satisfied with the grade you received on the first draft. Late essays not submitted in time to be returned before this deadline are not eligible for an improved grade.
Late work: Late essays will be reduced by one grade (A- to B+, etc.) and by one further grade for each subsequent week that the essay is not handed in. ‘Participation exercises’ submitted within a week of their due dates receive half credit; no credit after that. Tests taken late may receive a reduced grade at the instructor’s discretion.
1. The following extract of the statement of the learning outcomes the Department of Philosophy expects of students, who major in philosophy, is relevant to this course.
• Students acquire the skills
- of careful reading and interpretation of philosophical texts,
- of writing clear, succinct, and well-argued papers,
- of responding critically to the ideas advanced by others,
- of expressing ideas logically and coherently.
• Students are acquainted with at least one major topic in the contemporary study of philosophy.
2. Policy on style and on e-mail submissions: All papers must be paginated. Quotations and sources used are to be referenced in any style that conforms to appropriate standards of scholarship. Students may send their papers as email attachments (in WORD 2003) and receive comments via the same medium, provided the attachment has been formatted in a manner that is “ready to print.” The instructor will not print out any emailed papers.
3. Students who need reasonable accommodations because of the impact of a disability, should (i) contact the KOKUA Program, room 013, QLCSS, 956-7511 or 956-7612; (ii) speak with the instructor who will be happy to work the KOKUA Program to meet any access needs related to any documented disability.
4. “Plagiarism includes but is not limited to submitting, in fulfillment of an academic requirement, any work that has been copied in whole or in part from another individual's work without attributing that borrowed portion to the individual; neglecting to identify as a quotation another's idea and particular phrasing that was not assimilated into the student's language and style or paraphrasing a passage so that the reader is misled as to the source; submitting the same written or oral or artistic material in more than one course without obtaining authorization from the instructors involved; or "drylabbing," which includes obtaining and using experimental data and laboratory write-ups from other sections of a course or from previous terms.” (The University of Hawai‘i Student Conduct Code)
The consequences of plagiarism are commonly catastrophic.
Phil 308 - Assignments for Weeks 1-5
Week 1: Week1.pdf
Optional: Aristotle’s Epistemology.doc, Kuhn2Trads.doc
Participation exercise (#1) Wednesday January 14: (1) Fill out the information sheet. (2) Write one page introducing yourself and attach it to, or print it on the back of, the personal information sheet that accompanies this syllabus. In doing so, indicate why you enrolled in, and what you expect from, this course and what, if any, disappointments or misgivings you feel having seen the syllabus. (3) Search the web to find out what the four humors were and what personal traits were associated with the predominance of each humor.
Participation exercise (#2) for Friday January 16: Answer in three to five sentences the question, “How do ‘field experiments’ differ from ‘laboratory experiments’? Illustrate using episodes from the history of “rain-making”. ”
Week 2: Week2.pdf
Optional: DuhemASPT.doc, AppendixCh3.doc,
Participation exercise (#3) for Wednesday January 21: Answer in three to five sentences the question, “What conceptual problems stood in the way of using mathematics to deal with changing phenomena?”
Written assignment for Friday January 23 (3pp): Explain what Duhem thought was the aim of a physical theory, what arguments might be offered in support of his view, what arguments might be offered against his view and conclude with your own evaluation of Duhem’s position. Cite your sources for whatever you say about Duhem. You should find sufficient material to draw on in Week1.pdf (Introduction) and Week2.pdf. If you wish to read Duhem himself consult DuhemASPT.doc.
Week 3: B&M Chs 1&2
Participation exercise (#4) for Monday January 26: Answer in three to five sentences the question, “What is the Kant-Whewell view of knowledge?”
Participation exercise (#5) for Wednesday January 28: Answer in three to five sentences the question, “What orientation toward what is interesting science is revealed in the recent volume of scholarly work on the history of 20th century (American) science?”
Participation exercise (#6) for Friday January 30: Provide a thumbnail sketch of the history of modern astronomy locating Kepler, Ptolemy, Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Newton and Galileo.
Week 4: B&M Chs 3&4
Participation exercise (#7) for Monday February 2: Provide a thumbnail sketch of the history of chemistry locating Stahl, Priestly, Lavoisier, Davy and Dalton
Participation exercise (#8) for Wednesday February 4: Answer in three to five sentences the question, “What phenomena were said to be related by the principle of the conservation of energy?”
Written assignment for Friday February 6 [3pp]: (1) Read Koyré.doc and determine whether Galileo or Pascal should be condemned for their “experimental techniques”. (2) Drawing on Chapter 4 of B&M along with KuhnEnergy.doc, offer an account of what we may learn from “[t]rying to specify the cultural circumstances that led to the development of the conservation of energy” (p. 79)
Week 5: B&M Chs 14&16
Participation exercise (#9) for Monday February 9: List as many distinct “professional identities” as you can find for scientists in chapters 14 and 16 of B&M.
Wednesday February 11: No assignment. Review for First Midterm Test.
Friday February 13: First Midterm Test on Review Sheet #1
PHIL 308 - Review Sheet #1 (Weeks 1-5)
Explain the following terms or distinctions using one or two sentences.
humor theory experience (empeiria) v. art (technê) art v. science (epistêmê)
apodeictic artifact of preparation replicating/stabilizing the phenomenon
closing the system statistical significance retrograde motion
chaos mathematical function incommensurable lengths
positivism reductionism hypothetico-[nomological-]deductive method
Whig history paradigm and anomalies prediction as entailment v. as forecast
normal science falsifiability [v. verifiability] Gestalt switch
corpuscularism epicycles heliocentric v. geocentric
phlogiston the ether Royal Society of London v. Royal Institution
gate-keeping role Two Cultures (Snow 1959) 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics
Answers to the following should take five or six sentences and be based on what you have read in the text or heard discussed in class.
1. Why does Aristotle say that ‘art’ (technê) is a better grade of knowledge than experience?
2. What distinguishes a description from an explanation?
3. What distinguishes modern from ancient (e.g. Aristotelian) science?
4. What has to be present in “empirical” science to ensure that it is “experimental”?
5. Use the work either of Bernard or Griffith to illustrate the “experimental philosophy”.
6. What lessons does Latour’s book title, The Pasteurization of France, try to convey?
7. What problems arise in using computer models to study natural phenomena?
8. Why are statistical models needed in the design of field experiments?
9. What distinguishes Babylonian and Greek achievements in astronomy?
10. How did Aristotle respond to Zeno’s arrow paradox?
11. What is the significance of Newton’s achievement vis-a-vis Kepler’s Laws?
12. What methodological advice did Ptolemy offer, which Duhem endorsed warmly?
13. Why do positivists resist giving explanations? How did “logical positivists” account for the concept of explanation?
14. What is at stake in the modern ‘science wars’?
15. What makes historians suspicious of Popper’s methodology?
16. What claims by the Edinburgh school antagonized both philosophers and scientists?
17. How does political ideology interact with the biological theory of human nature?
18. What made the air-pump “an item of philosophical apparatus”?
19. How did the role of mathematics in science come to be a source of concern, if not an object of dispute, in early modern science?
20. How were Priestly’s reforms of natural philosophy connected in his mind to the need for social reforms?
21. Why was Lavoisier’s chemical system taken up more quickly in his native France than elsewhere in Europe?
22. What distinguished the atomism of Dalton from that of earlier proponents of atomic theory such as Boyle? What familiar philosophical issue haunted the theory of chemical atoms?
23. What important institutional formations have contributed to the present structure of “scientific community”?
Answers to the following should take between one and two pages and will be evaluated on the quality of arguments which are marshalled in support of the answer chosen.
1. What are the problems with the claim that the test of a scientific explanation lies in its capacity to facilitate prediction and control?
2. What epistemic problems continue to haunt experimental science?
3. Why should we be cautious when using mathematical representations of natural phenomena?
4. What else might an explanation do besides attempt to “strip reality of appearances”?
5. Is science just another value system?
6. Evaluate the pre World War II Marxian challenge to the Enlightenment view of science.
7. Is the sense in which a science education involves ‘brain-washing’ innocent or vicious?
8. Is science threatened by Kuhn’s account of its history?
9. Was there really a “scientific revolution” during the 17th century?
10. Was there a “delayed scientific revolution in Chemistry” in the late 18th century?
11. What sort of things can be discovered? Should we deny that theoretical generalizations are discoverable?
12. What should be the role of government in the material support of scientific research?
13. “[T]his view of science as being totally disengaged from popular culture is deeply flawed” (B&W p. 367)? Is it? Why?