Professor Gary Jason, PhD | Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Science

Course Syllabus

PH 303 Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

Teacher: Prof. Gary Jason

Office: Humanities 311-K    Hours: MWF 11:00-noon and by appointment

Phone: 888-231-8183                     email:



  1. Hempel  The Philosophy of Natural Science
  2. Kuhn   The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  3. assorted articles on reserve
  4. Jason  Quasi-text on Philosophy of Science

Recommended (and on reserve):

  1. Von Mises  Positivism
  2. Jorgensen  The Development of Logical Empiricism
  3. Suppe—the introduction to The Structure of Scientific Theories
  4. Salmon  Logic

Course Description: The aim of this course is to introduce the student to the basic issues in the Philosophy of Science, utilizing an historical approach.

Learning Goals: This course presupposes some training in Philosophy, and aims to build on that knowledge by surveying the key areas of work in the Philosophy of Science. These include:

  • Observation and the concept of a “fact”
  • Scientific method
  • Induction, confirmation, and the acceptance of hypotheses
  • Explanation
  • Scientific theories
  • Definition and concept formation
  • Scientific progress and the unity of science
  • Scientific revolutions

Assessment Procedures: The student is expected to attend regularly (no more than six absences will be allowed) and keep up with the readings. Additionally, there will be a midterm and a final exam, both essay format, as well as a term paper of 15-25 pages double-spaced, on a topic selected by the student with the teachers prior approval. The weighting will be:

Midterm exam = 30%

Final exam = 30%

Term paper = 40%


Policy on Cheating: Any student who cheats at any time in my class will receive an “F” for the entire course, and I will turn the incident over to the Chairperson of the Department for whatever further action is required by the University. For further explanation, visit my website.

Lecture flow:

Topic 1: The study of philosophy of science, and an overview of 20th Century philosophy of sci: positivism  and its downfall

Topic 2:  Quick overview of symbolic logic

Topic 3:  Empiricism and the concept of a fact

Topic 4:  The Logical Empiricist account of scientific method

Topic 5:  Induction, confirmation, and the acceptance of hypotheses

Topic 6:  The DN model of explanation

Topic 7:  The positivist view of scientific theories

Topic 8:  Definition and concept formation

Topic 9:  Positivism on scientific change and scientific progress

Topic 10:  The revolution against the positivist account: the Weltanschauung theorists

Topic 11: Kuhn on the role of history of science, and the nature of normal science

Topic 12:  Kuhn on priority of paradigms, crises and the emergence of new theories

Topic 13:  Kuhn on the response to crises, and scientific revolutions

Topic 14:  Revolutions as changes of worldview, resolution of revolutions, and progress through revolutions

Topic 15:  Criticisms of Kuhn