Georgia Institute of Technology

School of Public Policy

Program in Philosophy, Science, & Technology

Fall 2002



D.M. SMITH TR 09.35-10.55am ROOM 304


Professor Lorenzo Magnani

Office: 217 DM Smith

Phone: 404-894-9050 (Office)


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


Comparative analysis of frameworks for interpreting science and technology, discussed in light of case studies. Selected frameworks include philosophical, historical, cognitive, and sociological.



How do scientific theories develop and change? What is the nature and role of observation and experimentation in science? What is the nature of scientific investigation and technological innovation? In what ways do the practices of a scientific community shape its product, scientific knowledge? How are these practices created? This course will provide a comparative analysis of these and related issues from the perspectives of different interpretive frameworks: philosophical, computational, historical, cognitive, and sociological. These perspectives will be discussed and compared in light of specific historical and contemporary case studies.


Students will be required to make a presentation and to write three papers. Grades will be determined as follows:

Presentations and/or class participation: 40%

Papers: 60%

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.

Presentations: These will be made in groups of 3-5 students weekly. Please do not simply summarize the readings. Presentations should have two parts: 1. address what you take to be the main problems of the author(s) and their proposed solutions (taking not more than ½ hour) and 2. provide a set of problems formulated by your group for discussion. You should provide a short handout (with your names written on it) to me and the class with a list of the problems for discussion.

I Epistemology and Sociology of S&T

August 20 & 22: Organization and Introduction: Interpretive Frameworks. Science, Observation, Experiment.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters I, II, III.

August 27 & 29: Induction and Falsificationism.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters IV,V.

September 3 & 5: Sophisticated Falsificationism.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters VI, VII.

September 10 & 12: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Research Programs in Science.

Readings: Chalmers, Chapters VIII, IX.

September 17 & 19: 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, Smith Building).

II Philosophical and Cognitive Analysis of S&T

September 24 & 26: Hypotheses Generation in Science.

Readings: Magnani, Chapter I.

October 1 & 3: Discovery and Innovation in Science and Technology: What is Abduction?

Readings: Magnani, Chapter II.

October 8 & 10: Manipulative Reasoning, Epistemic Mediators, Diagnostic Reasoning, and Technology.

Readings: Magnani, Chapter III-IV.

October 15 (MID-TERM, no classes) & 17:


October 22 & 24: Inconsistencies and Hypothesis Withdrawal in Science.

Readings: Magnani, Chapters VI-VII.

October 29 & 31: Laboratories as Epistemic Mediators and as Reconfigurations of Natural and Social Orders.

Cognitive Models and Conceptual Change

Readings: Knorr Cetina, Chapter II, Giere, Introduction, and Nersessian paper (electronic reserve).

Paper 2 due by noon Tuesday November 5  (my mailbox, Smith Building).

III Historical and Computational Issues on S&T

November 5 & 7: Revolutionary Conceptual Change and History of Science. Concepts in Science.

Readings: Thagard, Chapters I and II.

November 12 & 14: Scientific Conceptual Change.

Readings: Thagard, Chapter III.

November 19 & 21: A Computational Model of Theory Choice in Science.

Readings: Thagard, Chapter IV.

November 26 & 28 (official School Holiday): Theory Dynamics and Scientific Explanation.

Readings: Thagard, Chapter V.

December 3 & 5: Objectivity, Value Judgments, and External Factors in Scientific Theory Choice.

Readings: Kuhn, Chapter XIII.

(Final) paper 3 due by noon Monday  December 9  (my mailbox, Smith Building).


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).

R. GIERE (ed.), Cognitive Models of Science, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1992, Introduction, and N.J. NERSESSIAN, How do Scientists Think? Capturing the Dynamics of Conceptual Change in Science (electronic reserve).

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