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Understanding Science

Philosophy 218

Tu Th 1:15- HU-133


P.D. Magnus, pmagnus -at-

Offce hours: Mo 2:00-3:00, Tu 3:00-4:00, and by appointment


Darleen Cieply, dc961443 -at-

Offce hours: Tu 11:00-12:00, Th 12:00-1:00, and by appointment


All course readings will be available on E-Reserves.


Class participation:

Participation in class discussion is required. Exemplary participa- tion will add to your grade, up to two-thirds of a letter grade.

Reading response papers:

Students will be responsible for writing five reading response papers during the term. Each should be a one pagestating the central thesis of the reading and explaining briefly what the author is trying to do. These may be written for any five readings, but must be turned in before we have discussed the readings in class.

Short papers:

Students will be responsible for writing two short papers (2 pages) on assigned topics. These will be due Oct. 4 and Oct. 25.


There will be three exams. The final exam, although at the end, will not be cumulative.

Academic honesty:

Cheating will not be tolerated.


Students who will need to miss exam dates for foreseeable reasons should discuss them with the professor at the beginning of the term. If an emergency results in absence, the student should contact the professor as soon as possible.

Schedule of topics

On the back is a provisional schedule. Specific readings may take more or less time than indicated, but exam dates and due dates will not change.

Week 1

aug 30, sep 1
Kinds of inference

Week 2

sep 6, 8
Demarcation (Read Hansson)

Week 3

sep 13, 15
The significance of experiment (Read Bogen, Pinch)

Week 4

sep 20, 22
Contested science (Read Oreskes&Conway)

Week 5

sep 27: First Midterm Exam

Week 6

oct 4, 6
Theories as maps
oct 4: Short paper due
Scientific significance (Read Kitcher ch. 6)

Week 7

oct 11, 13
Should there be limits to enquiry? (Read Mill)

Week 8

oct 18, 20
An argument for limits (Read Kitcher ch. 7)

Week 9

oct 25, 27
oct 25: Short paper due
Case study: Genetics and IQ (Read Gould ch. 5)

Week 10

nov 1, 3
More on IQ
nov3: Second Midterm Exam

Week 11

nov 8, 10
A further argument for limits
(Read Kitcher ch. 8)

Week 12

nov 15, 17
Gender, values, and science (Read Longino)

Week 13

nov 22
Role models (Read Brush)

Week 14

nov 29, dec 1
Heroism (Read Oreskes)

Week 15

dec 6

Final Exam

dec 15 Th 8:00am-10:00am