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Winter Term - Dual-Delivery
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Science, we are often told, rests on two central pillars – theory and observation. But science involves far more than just observing and theorizing. Indeed many scientists now spend their days at the computer running simulations or search algorithms. Moreover, observation itself is a complex and messy business, often requiring finely honed skills and a certain amount of theorizing. Indeed observation varies greatly across different fields. The molecular biologist who studies a new strain of virus using an electron microscope practices a very different craft from the archaeologist who inspects an excavation site to find clues to a lost civilization. In this subject, we go beyond the clichéd image of science, in attempting to answer the fundamental question: ‘how is knowledge produced?’ By drawing on recent scholarship in the history and philosophy of science, we will look at topics such as the different epistemic cultures of the laboratory and the field, the importance of visual and diagrammatic reasoning, and how scientists learn to ‘see’ and ‘think’ by engaging manually with instruments and models. By reframing traditional philosophical questions in terms of ‘what scientists do’ rather than ‘what scientists believe’, students will gain a deeper understanding of how different practices involving the hand, the mind and the eye actually generate knowledge.
Intended learning outcomes
Students completing this subject will:
- demonstrate ability to engage in critical argumentation both in the context of discussion and in self-directed written research ;
- develop in-depth understanding of contemporary developments in philosophy of science;
- acquire written and oral communication skills, effective collaboration in small and large groups.
- possess an awareness of the relationship between philosophy of science and other disciplines, such as epistemology, political theory, sociology, ethics, and gender studies;
- apply philosophical perspectives to real-world scientific practice through the treatment of case studies, and
- Critical thinking
- Analysis and assessment of arguments
- Oral and written communication skills
- Constructive collaboration and measured disagreement
- Confidence in voicing an informed opinion
Last updated: 31 August 2021