Philosophy of Science

University of South Alabama, Department of Philosophy, Spring 2013

Syllabus | Schedule | Professor

Course Schedule

We will be following our main text closely throughout the term. However, our pace will be determined in part by my evaluations of student progress (through homeworks, class discussions, and such). Thus, the schedule below should be thought of as tentative, subject to many many changes throughout the semester. Make sure you visit this page regularly in order to keep track of the reading and homework assignments. Below, in the right column, I list your assigned reading for the week, then supplementary material, then any homework, review sessions, exams, and the like.

 

Week 1 (1.15 & 1.17)

Introduction, Explanation

Hempel, C. G. and P. Oppenheim. (1948). “Studies in the logic of explanation.” Philosophy of Science 15:135–175. (690 citations)
Summary of Hempel and Oppenheim §§ 1-6 (Thursday)

Week 2 (1.22 & 1.24)

Explanation

Hempel, C. G. and P. Oppenheim. (1948). “Studies in the logic of explanation.” Philosophy of Science 15:135–175. (690 citations)
Watkins (1957) ‘Historical Explanations in the social sciences’ The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (202 citations)
HW TBA

Week 3 (1.29 & 1.31)

Explanation

M. Scriven, (1959) ‘Explanation and prediction in evolutionary theory’ Science (305 citations)
Paul Feyerabend (1962) ‘Explanation, Reduction, and Empiricism” Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science vol 3. 29-97 (789 citations)
HW TBA

Week 4 (2.5 & 2.7)

Explanation

Paul Feyerabend (1962) ‘Explanation, Reduction, and Empiricism” Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science vol 3. 29-97 (789 citations)
HW TBA

Week 5 (2.14)

Explantion

Gilbert Harman (1965) “Inference to the Best Explanation” The Philosophical Review (780 citations)
Harman (1968) “Knowledge, Inference, and Explanation” American Philosophical Quarterly (94 citations)
Harman (1968) “Enumerative Induction as IBE” Journal of Philosophy (54 citations)
HW TBA

Week 6 (2.19 & 2.21)

Explanation

Fumerton (1980) “Induction and reasoning to the best explanation” Philosophy of Science (29 citations)
HW TBA

Week 7 (2.26 & 2.28)

Explanation

Hempel, C. G. (1966). “Explanation in science and in history.” In W. H. Dray (ed.), Philosophical Analysis and History. Harper and Row, New York. Revised version of paper originally published in 1962. (243 citations)
Mink, L. O. (1966). “The autonomy of historical understanding.” History and Theory 5:24–47. (131 citations)
HW TBA

Week 8 (3.5 & 3.7)

MIDTERM EXAMS

No new readings

MIDTERM EXAMS

Week 9 (3.19 & 3.21)

Explanation

Bromberger (1966) 'Why Questions' in R. Colodny *Mind and Cosmos* (228 citations)
Friedman, M. (1974). “Explanation and scientific understanding.” Journal of Philosophy 71:5–19. (580 citations)
HW TBA

Week 10 (3.26 & 3.28)

Explanation

Paul Thagard (1978) "The Best Explanation: Criteria of Theory Choice" Journal of Philosophy 75: 76-92. (274 citations)
Steiner, M. (1978). “Mathematical explanation.” Philosophical Studies 34:135–151. (93 citations)
HW TBA

Week 11 (4.2 & 4.4)

Explanation

W. Salmon (1978) “Why ask ‘Why?’” Proceedings and Addresses of the APA (136 citations)
van Fraassen, B. C. (1980). The Scientific Image. “The Pragmatic Theory of Explanation” Oxford University Press, Oxford.
 (citations 3916)
HW TBA

Week 12 (4.9 & 4.11)

Explanation

Kitcher, P. (1981). “Explanatory unification.” Philosophy of Science 48:507–531. (903 citations)
Railton, P. (1981). “Probability, explanation, and information.” Synthese 48:233–256. (160 citations)
HW TBA

Week 13 (4.16 & 4.18)

Explanation

Jackson, F. and P. Pettit. (1992). “In defense of explanatory ecumenism.” Economics and Philosophy 8:1–21. (79 citations)
Gopnik, Alison. (1998). “Explanation as Orgasm”, Minds and Machines, 8: 101-118. (70 citations)
HW TBA

Week 14 (4.23 & 4.25)

Explanation

Wilson, Robert A. and Frank Keil. (1998). “The Shadows and Shallows of Explanation”, Mind and Machines (94 citations)
Glennan (2002) ‘Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation’ Philosophy of Science (251 citations)
HW TBA

Week 15 (4.30 & 5.2)

Explanation

Trout (2002) ‘Scientific Explanation and the Sense of Understanding’ Philosophy of Science (103 citations)
Velleman, J. D. (2003). “Narrative explanation.” Philosophical Review 112:1–25. (72 citations)
HW TBA

Final Exam (5.9, Thursday 1-3pm)

FINALS WEEK

Final exam