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Бакалаврская программа «Программа двух дипломов по экономике НИУ ВШЭ и Лондонского университета»

Philosophy and Methodology of Science

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс по выбору
Когда читается:
2-й курс, 1, 2 модуль


Course Syllabus


The course has no prerequisites. Philosophy and Methodology of the Natural and Social Sciences is a one semester course for second year ICEF students. The course provides a broad introduction to the main themes and issues in the philosophy of science in general and the philosophy of social science in particular. It is principally concerned with the epistemological, logical, metaphysical and ethical underpinnings of scientific methodology. Fundamental philosophical questions are presented with a view to demonstrating how they are relevant to and how they inform scientific inquiry. The course explores topics such as, among others, the possibility of knowledge, the distinctiveness of science, the logic of scientific method, scientific explanation, whether science describes reality or not, whether social science should be based on the methods of natural science, the nature of practical rationality, the place of ethical values in relation to science, and critiques of scientific rationality. All topics are presented as problems and areas of dispute.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • provide an introduction to the principal questions explored by the philosophy of science and social science
  • cultivate in students a critical awareness of the assumptions and conditions that lie behind scientific theories and arguments
  • contribute to the development of the students’ faculty of autonomous critical reasoning rather than the robotic repetition of given information
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • To conceptualise philosophy of science as a separate discipline in its own right, to define its objectives and basic methods.
  • To discuss various approaches to the definition of science and the problem of the demarcation of science from non-science
  • To explain the difference between the rationalist, empiricist and constructivist approaches to epistemology
  • To define the verifiability and the falsifiability criterion of meaning
  • To distinguish between context of discovery and context of justification
  • To characterize the hypothetico-deductive method
  • To characterise the difference between foundationalism and anti-foundationalism
  • To assess the validity of the analytic-synthetic distinction
  • To characterise the problem of holism about testing and of the theory-ladenness of observation
  • To distinguish between Positivist and Interpretivist approaches
  • To assess the validity of the phenomenological critique of solipsism
  • To distinguish between mechanistic and teleological forms of explanation
  • To characterise the logic of the evolutionary explanation: proximate (synchronic) and ultimate (diachronic) causation.
  • To characterise the basic approaches to the evolutionary explanation of rationality and emotion
  • To characterise Foucault’s view on the sovereign, disciplinary and bio-power; the connection between power and knowledge, and assess the problem of science as a potential vehicles of social power.
  • To assess the possibility of value-neutral science
  • To assess the basic challenges to the orthodox view of philosophy of science, e.g. the problem of logocentrism, meta-narratives and incommensurable language-games.
  • To characterize the approaches to the naturalistic accounts of human nature and behavior, including the problem of free will and the hard problem of consciousness
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • The limits of scientific rationality
    Power, knowledge and the self The limits of scientific rationality Consciousness and free will
  • Epistemological Foundations of the Scientific Methodology
    What is the philosophy of science Foundations of modern epistemology Logical positivism and Popper’s falsificationism Quine and Kuhn on anti-foundationalism
  • Theorising human action
    Phenomenology, hermeneutics and psychoanalysis Evolutionary and functional explanations in the social sciences Rational agency
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Seminar participation (including written assignments)
  • non-blocking Essay
    Individual project (essay and oral presentation) 20%
  • non-blocking Final exam
  • non-blocking Midterm exam
  • non-blocking Class presentations
    Two class presentations 20% (10% each), Individual project (essay and oral presentation) 20%
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.2 * Class presentations + 0.2 * Essay + 0.25 * Final exam + 0.15 * Midterm exam + 0.2 * Seminar participation (including written assignments)


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Godfrey-Smith, P. (2003). Theory and Reality : An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=324622

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Psillos, S. (2007). Philosophy of Science A-Z. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=194151