Philosophy of Science



Type of instruction






Recommended in

Semester 1

Typically offered in

Autumn semester

Course description
  1. Scientific inquiry: invention and test (Introductory examples for hypotheses, explanations, tests etc.)
  2. The test of a hypothesis (Experimental and crucial tests. Auxiliary and ad hoc hypotheses.)
  3. Observation and theory (The Baconian model of science. Novum Organum. Inductive reasoning. Nature and experiment. Observation and experiment. The decuctive-nomological model of explanation. Underdetermination of theories by facts.  Observer influence in the various sciences.)
  4. Positivism (The British Empiricists. Comte and origins of positivism. Mach and empiriocriticism. The Vienna Circle. The fall of positivism: protocol sentences, justification, demarcation. Problems of induction. Fallibilism.)
  5. Postpositivism (The cumulative view of XIX. century. Kuhn and scientific revolutions. Paradigms and normal science. Incommensurability. Lakatos and the methodology of scientific research programs. Feyerabend and the problem of development. Evolutionary models of knowledge.)
  6. Introduction to sociology of science (Ethnometodology in the lab. The Strong Program in the Sociology of Knowledge. The Empirical Program of Relativism. The social constructivism.)
  7. Summary and outlook

Learning outcome, competences

  • broad theoretical knowledge in Philosophy of Science


  • comprehensive theoretical interest


  • comprehensive methodological


  • ability to test theoretical questions and for relevant hypotheses

Learning activities, learning methods: Lectures and interactive discussions

Evaluation of outcomes
Learning requirements, mode of evaluation, criteria of evaluation:


  • Reliable basic knowledge in the domain of Philosophy of Science

mode of evaluation: oral exam


Extracts from Francis Bacon: Novum Organum (original: Bacon, F. (1620). Novum Organum Scientiarum.)
Short extract from Quine, W. V. O. (1951). Two dogmas of empiricism. Philosophical Review 60, 20-43. or In: Quine, W. V. O. (1961). From a Logical Point of View. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Extract from Hempel, C. G. (1958). The Theoretician’s Dilemma. In: H. Feigl, M. Scriven, & G. Maxwell (Eds.), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol II (pp. 37-98). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Carnap, R. (1959). The elimination of methaphysics through logical analysis of language. In: A. J. Ayer (Ed.), Logical Positivism (pp. 60-81). Glencoel: The Free Press.
Short extracts from Carnap, R. (1936). Testability and meaning. Philosophy of Science 3, 419-471.
Short extracts from Carnap, R. (1937). Testability and meaning - Continued. Philosophy of Science 4. 1-40.
Extract from Hempel, C. G. (1945). Studies in the logic of confirmation. Mind 54, 1-26.
Hempel, C. G., & Oppenheim, P. (1948). Studies in the logic of explanation. Philosophy of Science 15, 135-175.
Extract from Popper, K. R. (1959). The Logic of Scientific Discovery. London: Hutchinson. (or later editions) (original: Popper, K. R. (1934). Logik der Forschung. Vienna: Springer)
Extract from Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (or later editions)
Extracts from Lakatos, I. (1970). Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. In: I. Lakatos, & A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University.
Extract from Toulmin, S. (1972). Human Understanding: The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Extract from Mannheim, K. (1936). Ideology and Utopia. London: Routledge. (or later editions)
Extracts from Bloor, D. (1976). Knowledge and Social Imagery. London: Routledge.
Extract from Sokal, A., & Bricmont, J. (1998). Fashionable Nonsense : Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science. New York: Picador.