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Unit of study_

HPSC2101: What Is This Thing Called Science?

(This unit will not be available from 2021) What distinguishes creationism from evolutionary theory, or astrology from astronomy? Can we have good reason to believe that our current scientific theories represent the world "as it really is"? This course critically examines the most important attempts to describe the scientific method, to draw a line dividing science from non-science, and to justify the high status generally accorded to scientific knowledge. Views studied include Karl Popper's idea that scientific theories are falsifiable in principle, Thomas Kuhn's proposal that science consists of a series of paradigms separated by abrupt scientific revolutions, and various claims that science cannot really be distinguished from other approaches to knoweldge. This unit of study also explores contemporary theories of evidence and explanation, the role of values in science, sociological approaches to understanding science, feminist perspectives on science, and the nature of scientific consensus.

Code HPSC2101
Academic unit History and Philosophy of Science Academic Operations
Credit points 6
24 credit points of Junior units of study
HPSC2901 or HPSC1001 or HPSC1901

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand philosophical and historical discussions of science and critically assess arguments in these areas
  • LO2. write clear and well-organized responses to philosophical and historical discussions of science, and develop your own views on these issues
  • LO3. relate general philosophical and historical ideas about science to particular examples of scientific work.

Unit outlines

Unit outlines will be available 1 week before the first day of teaching for the relevant session.