History & Philosophy of Science

University of Utah, Department of Philosophy, Fall 2011

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Course Schedule

In the course schedule below, you'll see that the course is broken into three main sections; these correspond to various categories of the history of scientific thought: 1. Ancient astronomy and dynamics, 2. the Scientific Revolution, and 3. the nature of heat debate. "Einstein & Infeld" is abbreviated below as "E&I". "Philosophy of Science: An Historical Anthology" is abbreviated "PS". All readings that are not taken from one of your required textbooks will either be linked to below, or will be made available to you on the course Blackboard site (under "Course Content" in the sidebar). In the right column, I list your assigned reading for the week, then supplementary material, then any scheduled review sessions, exams, and the like.


Week 1 (Aug 22-26)

Course Introduction; the Nature of Science; the Demarcation Problem

Sections 1 and 4.0-4.2 of SEP: "Science and Pseudo-Science"; Dewitt, ch. 7; PS, pp. 471-475 (parts I and II of Popper's Conjectures & Refutations)
PS, pp. 459-462

Week 2 (Aug 29 - Sep 2)

Aristotelian Dynamics I; Aristotle’s Four Causes; teleology

Dewitt, ch. 9; PS, 1.6 (Excerpts from Aristotle’s Physics)
PS, pp. 5-8, pp. 13-18

Week 3 (Sep 5-9) ** NO CLASS Sep 5 **

Aristotelian Dynamics II; philosophy of explanation

PS, 1.5 and 1.8 (Excerpts from Aristotle's Metaphysics and On the Heavens)
SEP: "Aristotle on Causality", "Scientific Explanation" (some supplementary material on the four causes and on the philosophy of explanation)

Week 4 (Sep 12-16)

Ptolemy and Aristotle on the Earth; arguments a priori and a posteriori; confirmation and disconfirmation

Dewitt, ch. 10; PS, 1.12 (Excerpts from Ptolemy’s Almagest)
Dewitt, ch. 4

Week 5 (Sep 19-23)

Ptolemaic Astronomy; challenges to Aristotle and Ptolemy; the aims of a scientific theory

Dewitt, chs. 11-13; PS, 1.13, 1.16 (Excerpts from Proclus and Maimonides)
Dewitt, ch. 8; PS, pp. 18-20, 1.14, 1.15, 1.17, 1.18

Week 6 (Sep 26-30) ** NO CLASS Sep 30 **


REVIEW SESSION: Monday Sep 26, regular class time
EXAM 1: Wednesday Sep 28, regular class time

Week 7 (Oct 3-7)

The Copernican Revolution I; empirical equivalence

Dewitt, ch. 14; PS, pp. 95-98, 2.1, 2.3 (Excerpts from Rheticus's Narratio Prima and Copernicus’s On the Revolution)
PS, pp. 8-9, 2.2; SEP: "Scientific Realism","Nicolaus Copernicus"

Week 8 (Oct 10-14) ** NO CLASS Oct 10-14 **

Fall Break


Week 9 (Oct 17-21)

The Copernican Revolution II; explanatory virtues; scientific progress

Dewitt, chs. 15-16; PS, pp. 98-100, 2.4, 2.6 (Excerpts from Brahe's The New Star and Kepler's New Astronomy)
PS, 2.5, 2.7; SEP: "Johannes Kepler", "Scientific Progress"

Week 10 (Oct 24-28)

Galileo on Astronomy and Dynamics; thought experiments

Dewitt, ch. 17; PS, pp. 100-104, 2.9, 2.10 (Excerpts from Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems)
PS, 2.8, 2.11; SEP: "Galileo Galilei", "Thought Experiments"

Week 11 (Oct 31 - Nov 4)

The Newtonian Revolution I; Newton's laws of motion; causation; simplicity

Dewitt, ch. 20; PS, pp. 104-106, 2.15, 2.17 (Excerpts from Newton’s Principia)
PS, 2.14, 2.16; SEP: "Newton's Views on Space, Time, and Motion"

Week 12 (Nov 7-11)

The Newtonian Revolution II; action at a distance

PS, 2.18, 3.4 (Excerpts from Newton's The System of the World and Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding)

REVIEW SESSION: Wednesday Nov 9, regular class time
EXAM 2: Friday Nov 11, regular class time

Week 13 (Nov 14-18)

Mystery and Scientific Methodology; theories; underdetermination

E&I, pp. 3-35; Dewitt, ch. 5
PS, 4.13; SEP: "Underdetermination of Scientific Theory"

Week 14 (Nov 21-25) ** NO CLASS Nov 25 **

Nature of Heat Debate (caloric versus molecular motion)

E&I, pp. 35-55
Dewitt, ch. 8

Week 15 (Nov 28 - Dec 2)

Thermodynamics: laws of nature; time-reversal invariance

E&I, pp. 55-65; Dewitt, ch. 21
SEP: "Laws of Nature"

Week 16 (Dec 5-9)

Thermodynamics: Maxwell's Demon; determinism and other demons; probabilities in science

John Earman, "Defining Determinism"
SEP: "Causal Determinism"

REVIEW SESSION: Friday Dec 9, regular class time

Week 17 (Dec 12-16)


FINAL EXAM (Cumulative): Thursday Dec 15, 1:00pm-3:00pm, in regular classroom