Department of Philosophy

Epistemology and Science

Major in Philosophy: Epistemology and Science 

The department offers a large selection of courses for philosophy majors interested in epistemology or science. 

1255 Scientific Method [PHYS 1370]

3 credit hours

This course provides a historical and logical analysis of methods commonly used in science. Possible topics include science vs. pseudo-science, natural vs. social sciences, modes of reasoning, observation and experimentation, construction and empirical testing of theories and models, and thought experiments. 

1304 Propaganda and Truth
3 credit hours

Is truth relative to cultures or ways of seeing the world? Is objectivity a fiction? Is the claim to have the truth merely a tactic of manipulation? Is sincere advocacy just another form of propaganda? These are a few of the questions we will ask in this course. 

2301 Introduction to Symbolic Logic
3 credit hours

This course introduces the fundamentals of symbolic logic. Both the propositional and predicate calculus are covered as well as various standard proof techniques. 

2318 Science and Society
3 credit hours

This course studies science in its social context. Contemporary and historical case studies provide a basis for examining effects of scientific and technological innovation on society, whether social values are implicated in scientific discovery and justification, and ways in which social and economic institutions shape scientific practice. 

2330 Philosophy of Religion
3 credit hours

A philosophical examination of the nature and rationality of religious belief and practice. 

3402 Philosophy of Language
3 credit hours

How is it that words and sentences mean what they do? One answer to this question is that linguistic meaning is determined by the speaker’s intentions; another is that it is determined by social practices. Each answer raises issues regarding the relation of language to both thought and reality. 

3404 Theory of Knowledge
3 credit hours

This course examines the various concepts of human knowledge and attempts to find the limits of that knowledge. Traditional approaches to problems in the theory of knowledge will be considered as well as current work. 

3405 Ethics of Belief
3 credit hours

We commonly evaluate beliefs as rational or irrational; justified or unjustified; responsible or irresponsible. But what do these terms mean and when are they correctly applied? Can beliefs be ethical? These and related questions are debated by contemporary epistemologists. This course seeks to interpret and assess the main competing views. 

3413 Intermediate Logic

3 credit hours

This course continues and develops the work of PHIL 2301. It offers students of all faculties opportunities for further growth in reasoning skills, in part through supervised practice in the logical appraisal of extracts from a variety of important writings. Some branches of logic are developed beyond the level of PHIL 2301. The complete predicate calculus (with identity) is applied to arguments of ordinary English. Inductive logic, and practically significant areas of logical theory, are developed considerably. Scientific method and the general methods of some other disciplines are analyzed in some depth. 

3448 Philosophy of Science
3 credit hours

An introduction to the main problems of the philosophy of science designed to familiarize students with some of the contemporary analyses of scientific concepts and methods. 

3454 Philosophy of History
3 credit hours

A critical study of the philosophical views on the course of human history (its pattern, purpose, and value) and an examination of the aim, nature, and validity of historical knowledge. 

4514 Philosophy of Biology
3 credit hours

The course explores methodological, conceptual, metaphysical, and epistemological questions that arise in modern biology. Possible topics include scientific revolutions, experimentation, biological laws, theoretical modeling, objectivity, reductionism, species concepts, evolution vs. creationism, human nature, and biological theories of gender, race, and sexuality. 

4515 Philosophy of Physics [PHYS 4370]
3 credit hours

This course explores methodological, conceptual, metaphysical, and epistemological questions that arise in modern physics. Possible topics include scientific revolutions, experimentation, laws of nature, space, time, matter, causality, indeterminism, non-locality, thought experiments, and theoretical unification. 

4665 Pragmatism
3 credit hours

Students read the founding texts of pragmatism from the late-19th and early-20th centuries (e.g., by Peirce, James, and Dewey).  Students analyze the pragmatist critique of traditional western philosophical ideas about meaning, truth, reality, foundations of knowledge, and practice.  Students examine the historical reception of pragmatism and assess its continuing importance.