Baruch College

The City University of New York

Fall 2003


PHI 3990



The Max Wartofsky Memorial Reading Room,

Department of philosophy, 5-298, MW 2:05pm-3:20 pm


Professor Lorenzo Magnani

Office: Department of Philosophy, 5th floor, Vertical Campus

Phone: (Office) 646-312-4367


Office hours: MW 3:20-4:00 and by appointment






We will examine the nature of scientific inquiry: its methods, aims, and results. Issues to be explored will include: What relations are there between science and philosophy? What is the status of the knowledge science produces? What counts as truth objectivity, and progress in science? Can we differentiate between scientific and pseudoscientific claims? Is scientific discovery a reasoned process? What kinds of reasoning are involved in scientific inquiry? We will examine these issues both from the perspective of traditional core notions and contemporary challenges to these. We will also discuss the so-called "abductive reasoning" and some cognitive issues in epistemology.




Exams and quizzes:

I-II. There will be two take-home essay exams: at midterm (maximum 20 points), and final essay covering the material of the lectures, readings, and discussions (maximum 30 points). Topics will be distributed one week before the paper is due. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date or in my mailbox by noon.

They will test your knowledge of the readings and your understanding of epistemological issues. For the take-home exams, you will write your text wherever you chose and turn them in the due date.

III. There will be one in-class quiz. This will be designed to test your comprehension of the readings and your understanding of the issues discussed. The quiz will be worth a maximum of 20 points.

IV. There will be a final in-class exam given during the scheduled exam time. The exam will cover the whole course, but will consist of short answer questions and essay questions based on the readings and lectures (maximum 20 points).

Final grade:

In summary, your final grade will be determined as follows:

Two exams: 20 + 30 = 50 points maximum; the two essays will count as 50% of your grade.

Quiz: 20 points maximum; the quiz will count 20% of your grade.

Class Participation: 10 % To get an A for class participation you must do more than just show up; you have to contribute to class discussion. You are expected to show up having read the assignment for the day and ready to talk about it.

Final Exam: 20 points.

Total Points Possible = 100

You can expect grades according to the Baruch Official Grade System.


Due dates for assignments are firm deadlines. They are announced well in advance, so please plan accordingly. There is no room in the schedule to fall behind in either reading or writing assignments. Institute regulations do not allow the grade of incomplete to be given except in cases of extreme emergency. Students are expected to adhere to the Student Honor Code. Your signature (which should be on all written work) is understood to be your affirmation that the work is yours.

Please indicate your SSN number in capital.


Essays: The text of the papers should be between 1500 and 2000 words in length, typed, double-spaced, 12 point font, page numbers, stapled, and word count included with your name. Do not exceed the word limit by more than 100 words. Provide citations for all quotations and sources used (not included in word count). Do not use extensive quotations.


Quiz: There will be questions worth of a total of 30 points: you may answer as many questions as you like, but the maximum number of points you can receive is 20.


Final Exam: 20 points. The exam will cover the whole course, but will consist of short answer questions and essay questions based on the readings and lectures.


Class Format: The class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. I expect you all to show up having read the assignment for that meeting and ready to use as a point of departure. You are encouraged to question me and your classmates



I Introduction to Philosophy of Science


September 3 & 8: Organization and Introduction: Interpretive Frameworks. Science, Observation, Experiment.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters I, II, III.


September 10 & 15: Induction and Falsificationism.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters IV,V.


September 17 & 22: Sophisticated Falsificationism.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters VI, VII.


September 24 & 29: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Research Programs in Science.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters VIII, IX.


October 1 & 7 (Monday schedule): The Anarchistic Theory of Science. Evidence and Hypothesis: The Role of External Factors.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters X, XVI; Longino, Chapter III (electronic reserve).


Paper 1 due by noon Tuesday September 24 (my mailbox).


II The Logic of Scientific Discovery: Epistemological and Cognitive Analysis


October 8 & 13 (no classes): Hypotheses Generation in Science.

Readings: Magnani, Chapter I.


October 15 (Monday schedule) & 20: Discovery and Innovation in Science and Technology: What is Abduction?

Readings: Magnani, Chapter II.


October 22 & 27: Manipulative Reasoning, Epistemic Mediators, Diagnostic Reasoning, and Technology.

Readings: Magnani, Chapter III-IV.


October 29 & November 3: Inconsistencies and Hypothesis Withdrawal in Science.

Readings: Magnani, Chapters VI-VII.


November 5 & 10: Laboratories as Epistemic Mediators and as Reconfigurations of Natural and Social Orders.

Readings: Knorr Cetina (electronic reserve).


In-Class Quiz: November 10.


III Conceptual Change and Theory Comparison in Science:

Historical and Computational Issues


November 12 & 17: Revolutionary Conceptual Change and History of Science.

Readings: Thagard, Chapter I.


November 19 & 24: Concepts and Conceptual Change.

Readings: Thagard, Chapters II and III.


November 26 & December 1: A Computational Model of Theory Choice.

Readings: Thagard, Chapter IV.


December 3 & 8: Theory Dynamics and Explanation.

Readings: Thagard, Chapter V.


December 10: Objectivity, Value Judgments, and External Factors in Theory Choice.

Readings: Kuhn, Chapter XIII.


Paper 2 due by noon Friday December 10 (my mailbox).




A.F. CHALMERS, What is This Thing Called Science? Hackett, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1999 (third edition).

L. MAGNANI, Abduction, Reason, and Science. Processes of Discovery and Explanation, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2001.

P. THAGARD, Conceptual Revolutions, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1992.


Electronic Reserve:


H.E. LONGINO, Science as Social Knowledge. Values and Objectivity in Scientific Inquiry, Princeton, University Press., Princeton, 1990,chapter III, Evidence and Hypothesis (electronic reserve).

K. KNORR CETINA, Epistemic Cultures. How the Sciences Make Knowledge, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1999, Chapter II, What is a Laboratory? (electronic reserve).

T.S. KUHN, The Essential Tension. Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change, The University of Chicago Pres, Chicago, 1997, Chapter XIII, Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice (electronic reserve).


Books 1,2,3 are available in the Bookstore.