PHIL 2050 - Philosophy of Science

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2019

Science has a significant impact on our lives. Some have criticized it for being "reductionist" and part of a general dehumanization of society. Others argue that the sciences are our only means of avoiding the many dangers we currently face. Philosophy of Science will examine these and other central issues in the contemporary philosophy of science, including: the objectivity of science, the nature of scientific method, the status of scientific knowledge, and the character of scientific explanation. The course will also explore the general picture of reality that emerges from modern science.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHIL 2050
    Course Philosophy of Science
    Coordinating Unit Philosophy
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study
    Incompatible PHIL 2013 or PHIL 3013
    Course Description Science has a significant impact on our lives. Some have criticized it for being "reductionist" and part of a general dehumanization of society. Others argue that the sciences are our only means of avoiding the many dangers we currently face. Philosophy of Science will examine these and other central issues in the contemporary philosophy of science, including: the objectivity of science, the nature of scientific method, the status of scientific knowledge, and the character of scientific explanation. The course will also explore the general picture of reality that emerges from modern science.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Jonathan Opie

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successfully completing this course students will be able to:
    1. Demonstrate an understanding of the central problems in philosophy of science.
    2. Analyze and critically engage with contemporary work in philosophy of science.
    3. Express, develop and defend their own views, through written work and through constructive discussion with others.
    4. Understand some of the ways in which philosophy is relevant to our understanding of human nature and human knowledge.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 4
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 3
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    2, 3
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    2-4
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    3
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    3
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The course textbook is:

    Chalmers, A. F. (2013) What is this thing called Science? 4th ed., UQP

    Tutorial readings will be made available on MyUni. These are also suitable reference material for preparation of your written assignments.
    Online Learning
    The following online resources will be made avaiable:

    • Tutorial Papers. These are posted one week in advance of your tutorial.
    • Readings. These include articles and book chapters for tutorial and essay preparation.
    • Lecture Notes. These are summaries only, and are not a substitute for attending lectures.
    • Lecture Recordings. Sometimes these take a day or two to be posted, so please be patient.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    • Lectures. There are two lectures each week, which can be attended in person or viewed on MyUni.
    • Tutorials. Tutorials are designed to help you understand the lecture material, but may touch on other topics. To prepare for tutorials, please answer the questions made available each week on MyUni.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    2 x 1-hour lectures (or equivalent) per week 24 hours per semester
    1 x 1-hour tutorial (or equivalent) per week 12 hours per semester
    4 hours assignment/exam preparation per week 48 hours per semester
    3 hours tutorial preparation per week 36 hours per semester
    3 hours reading per week 36 hours per semester
    TOTAL WORKLOAD 156 hours per semester
    Learning Activities Summary
    Below is a summary of the topics we will cover in Philosophy of Science.

    • Topic 1: The Methods & Status of Science (10 Lectures)
      What is the aim of science? Is there a universal “scientific method”? Are there principled ways of distinguishing between science and non-science? How do scientists justify scientific claims and resolve theoretical disputes? Are there ways of measuring the growth and progress of scientific knowledge? Is science an objective enterprise? Do the cultural settings in which scientific work occurs affect the content and quality of that work?
    • Topic 2: The Products of Science (8 Lectures)
      What is the nature of scientific explanation? What kinds of relationships exist between different scientific disciplines? What is the relationship between scientific theories and the world?
    • Topic 3: Science and Metaphysics (4 Lectures)
      What is a cause? What is a law of nature? What general picture of reality emerges from scientific inquiry?
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Task Type Weight
    Quiz Summative 10%
    Essay 1 Summative 40%
    Essay 2 Summative 50%
    Tutorials Formative Unweighted
    Assessment Detail
    Your assessment in Philosophy of Science will involve a quiz and two essays. The word limits below are lower and upper bounds, respectively.
    1. Quiz. This will be an online, multiple-choice test of the first 4 weeks’ lectures.
    2. Essay 1 (1200-1500 words). You will choose one question based on material from Topic 1.
    3. Essay 2 (1500-1800 words). You will choose one question based on material from Topics 2 or 3.
    Submission
    Your assignments are submitted through MyUni. If you are not familiar with the process, there’s a tutorial here. Remember that it is your responsibility to submit your assignments correctly. The submission process is as follows:

    • Log into MyUni and select Philosophy_of_Science (PHIL_2050)
    • Select Assignments in the left-hand menu.
    • Select Essay 1 Submission or Essay 2 Submission, as appropriate.
    • Select Browse My Computer then choose a file to submit for marking.
    • Select Submit. Note: DO NOT select 'Save as Draft' as this will not submit your assignment and there will be no indication that it has been completed.
    • Please keep an electronic copy of your essay, just in case.
    Each essay must satisfy the following requirements:
    1. It must include a brief introduction and conclusion.
    2. It must acknowledge any dependence, either direct or indirect, on source material.
    3. It must include a reference list of all material cited in the essay.
    4. It must not lie outside the stated word limits (see above).
    Written work which doesn’t conform to these requirements may be penalized.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

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    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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  • Policies & Guidelines
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