Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Science. PHI314 – Philosophy of Science (Spring 2014 – Session C)

Instructor: Dr. David McElhoes

Term-Paper Assignment

Basics:

Length: 5-10 pages double-spaced (not including works cited page) using 12pt Times New Roman font.

Please do NOT include a title page! The title should come at the top of the paper.

Due Date(s): April 11, 2014 @11:59PM

Choose One of the Following Topics:

(1) Explicate and evaluate the movement known as Logical Positivism. Is this radical movement really an improvement over the classical empiricist position? Argue for your answer, and then think of at least two possible objections that a possible opponent could present against your case. What is the best way to respond to the objections?

a. Explicate means explain the ideas of others in your own words .

(2) Compare and contrast two of the four non-naïve answers to the question What is a natural law? Which of the two views is stronger? Argue for your answer, and then think of at least two possible objections that a possible opponent could present against your case. What is the best way to respond to the objections?

(3) Compare and contrast Popper, the Logical Empiricist (i.e., Neurath’s boat), and Kuhn’s respective accounts of scientific progress and change. Which of these views is strongest? Argue for your answer, and then think of at least two possible objections that a possible opponent could present against your case. What is the best way to respond to the objections?

a. In your answer, you might want to exploit the fact that Lakatos was a student and defender of Popper (and claimed to be doing little more than elaborating the ideas Popper left implicit within his work).

(4) Compare and contrast at least two different accounts of causation (I suggest contrasting a reificationist view with a deflationist or nihilist view). Which view (if any) provides the best basis for causal explanation? Argue for your answer, and then think of at least two possible objections that a possible opponent could present against your case. What is the best way to respond to the objections?

(5) Explicate and evaluate both the covering law model and (one of the) mechanistic models of scientific explanation. Should science adopt either one of these explanatory models as a general framework for scientific explanation? Argue for you answer, and then think of at least two possible objections that a possible opponent could present against your case. What is the best

way to respond to the objections?

(6) Create your own topic. You need to think of a central question of the form Is it the case that _____? Your thesis is your answer to that question. Argue for your thesis. Anticipate the two strongest objections to your argument. Respond to the objections.

a. One idea is to simply borrow one of the more complicated discussion questions from the lecture, and write a paper about it.

b. Note: if you choose to create your own topic, your central question must be approved by the instructor by April 5th, 2013.

Mechanics:

If you have taken a philosophy course, you should understand the mechanics of a philosophy paper, and so I won’t bore you with details. For those of you who have not written a philosophy paper before, please review the instructions found at: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~phildept/files/ShortGuidetoPhilosophicalWriting.pdf

I will emphasize, however, that you absolutely need a clear thesis (your thesis should take the form, In this paper I argue that X , where you fill in the conclusion of your argument in place of ‘X’).

Quite often, the thesis is an answer to some sort of central question, e.g. Is the problem of induction a genuine problem? Thinking of your thesis as an answer to a question is actually quite helpful in keeping it short and clear. If you re-read your thesis statement and can’t think of a question it would be an answer to, then you should choose a different thesis or break it down into two sub-theses.

Next, you need to give a bit of context/background behind the argument of interest, summarize the argument clearly and charitably. Then you will think of some ways one might criticize it (making it very clear exactly to what you’re objecting) anticipate one or two decent criticisms/responses, and reply to that criticism. If you cannot think of a way to reply to a criticism, then you should make your thesis Popper’s argument for X is a bad one. If you can think of a way to reply to all the criticisms, then your thesis should be Popper’s argument for X is, in the end, defensible.

Since you’re expected to do all this in approximately 7 pages, you’ll need to make sure that your writing is especially tight: be as brief as possible, without sacrificing clarity.

Submission:

Please upload the paper using the upload link found on the course website (in Assignments and Exams, and in Module 7). You must upload your paper in one of the following formats: .doc, .docx, .pdf.

Additionally, the filename of your paper must accord to the following format:

FirstnameLastname.doc/docx/pdf

Philosophy of Science

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply