Georgia Institute of Technology

School of Public Policy

Program in Philosophy, Science, & Technology

Fall 1999




Professor Lorenzo Magnani

Office: 201 DM Smith

Phone: 894-1232 (leave message if no answer)


Office hours: T 11:00-12:00 and by appointment



An examination of the nature and processes of scientific inquiry: methods, aims, and results. Abductive reasoning and scientific discovery. Cognitive issues in epistemology.



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. In developing topics, examples will be drawn from the history of the development of scientific theories.



To introduce students to the philosophical foundations of modern science; to the role of modern science in the history of philosophy; to contemporary issues in philosophy of science; to the role of various kinds of reasoning in scientific inquiry.




Reading: approximately 100 pages/week

Writings: a brief take-home essay due at midterm: 40% of grade

Final: in class essays covering the material of the lectures, readings, and discussions: 60% of grade

Due dates for assignments are firm deadlines. They will be announced well in advance, so please plan accordingly. There is no room in the schedule to fall behind. Institute regulations do not allow the grade of incomplete to be given except in cases of extreme emergency.


I Introduction to Philosophy of Science

August 24 & 26:


Readings: Chalmers, Chapters I-V.

August 31 & September 2; September 7 & 9:

Demarcation and Scientific Change

Readings: Kuhn, Chapters I-XIII (Postscript, recommended, but optional).

September 14 & 16:


Readings: Popper, Chapters I-V.

September 21 & 23; 28 & 30:

Research Programs, Realism and Antirealism, the Anarchist Theory of Science

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters VIII-XI, XIV-XVI.


II Problems in Natural Philosophy

October 5 & 7:


October 12 & 14:

The Scientific Revolution & the Nature of Scientific Knowledge

Readings: Burtt, Chapter I; Matthews: Aristotle, pp. 5-25.

October 21 & 26:

The Copernican Revolution

Readings: Burtt, Chapter II; Matthews: Copernicus, pp. 33-40; Bacon, pp. 45-52.

October 28 & November 2:

Mathematization, Experimentation, & the Mechanical Philosophy

Readings: Burtt, Chapters III, IV; Matthews: Galileo, pp. 53-80; Descartes, pp. 87-97.

November 4 & 9:

The Newtonian Synthesis and its Foundations

Readings: Burtt, Chapters VII (Sections 1,2,3,4) and VIII; Matthews: Newton, pp. 133-159; Kant, pp. 1-37.


III Problems in Philosophy of Science

November 11 & 16; 18 & 23:

Abduction, Reason, and Science

Readings: Josephson and Josephson, Chapters I and II; Magnani (handouts, two articles).

November 30 & December 2:

Epistemological Problems of Human and Social Sciences

Readings: Rosenberg, Chapters I-IV.

December 7 & 9:

Epistemology and Cognitive Science:

Readings: Thagard, Chapters I-VIII.




E.A. BURTT, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, 1966 (eighth printing).

A.F. CHALMERS, What is This Thing Called Science?, Third Edition, Hackett, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1999.

J.R JOSEPHSON, & S.G. JOSEPHSON, Abductive Inference. Computation, Philosophy, Technology, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

I. KANT, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Hackett, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1977.

T.S. KUHN, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Third Edition, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1997.

L. MAGNANI, Abductive reasoning: philosophical and educational perspectives; Model-based creative abduction (handouts, 2 articles).

M.R. MATTHEWS, The Scientific Background to Modern Philosophy, Hackett, Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1989.

K.R. POPPER, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Routledge, London and New York, 1992.

A. ROSENBERG, Philosophy of Social Science, Westview Press, Oxford, 1995

P. THAGARD, Mind. Introduction to Cognitive Science, The MIT Press, Cambridge, 1996.