Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 201200061
Philosophy and History of Science and Technology
Course infoSchedule
Course module201200061
Credits (ECTS)5
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Contact M. Boon
Contactperson for the course M. Boon
Lecturer M. Boon
Lecturer F.J. Dijksterhuis
Academic year2014
Starting block
Application procedureYou apply via OSIRIS Student
Registration using OSIRISYes
Learning objectives

This course connects to the final qualifications K1, K2, K5, S1-4 of the program, according to the following learning objectives:

Knowledge of philosophical topics:  

1.     scientific reasoning and the engineering sciences.

2.     the philosophy of science (main philosophers of science, demarcation problem, scientific progress, modes of argumentation in science, scientific explanations, the logic structure of scientific theories, the role of mathematical formalisms, definition theory, instrumentalism, realism, relativism).

3.     history of ideas in scientific research.

Philosophical skills:

4.     analyze the structure and arguments of a philosophical text.

5.     reconstruct the presuppositions made in a philosophical text.

6.     judge a philosophical text with respect to its consistency and coherence.

7.     read philosophical texts of both classical and contemporary authors.
Course description:
Scientific theories are generally regarded to be the backbone of scientific and technological practices. They consist of mathematical formulas, laws of nature and scientific models, among other things. But where do these formulas, laws, and models come from, and how do we know where to apply them? This course approaches these questions from combined historical and philosophical perspectives, focusing on the reflections on science in practice. On the one hand we follow the historical development of science to see how practitioners have thought about the ways to acquire knowledge and see where our modern ways of knowing originate. On the other hand we delve into the philosophy of science as it articulates fundamental epistemic issues in the modern sciences. In aiming at an understanding of the engineering sciences from a philosophy of science perspective (rather than from the social or ethical perspective), this course takes traditional themes in the philosophy of science as its starting point. Central themes will be discussed, such as “What is science?” “What is a scientific explanation?” "What is a scientific methodology" “What are laws of nature?” "Are scientific theories true?" “What is a scientific model?”. In this manner, traditional topics such as the logic of scientific reasoning, the induction problem, the demarcation problem and falsificationism, scientific explanation, truth, scientific revolutions, realism and anti-realism, will be addressed. This elementary background in the traditional philosophy of science will be applied for exploring the epistemic relation between science and technology. Why and how do formulas, laws and models give us knowledge anyway? Is it really possible to simply apply basic scientific knowledge for attaining knowledge about concrete (technological) systems? Dealing with these latter questions deviates from traditional introductory courses in the philosophy of science, as it puts much more emphasis on the making of scientific results and the ways in which scientists construct scientific knowledge. At this point, the philosophical perspective and the historical perspective meet and will contribute to each other. Aspects of the history of science that contribute to a more in-depth understanding of how scientific knowledge is produced will be studied. The relation between science, engineering sciences and technology will be discussed from this perspective. Both in the philosophy and the history classes, the differences between various scientific domains will be discussed, as well as the difference between physical and social sciences, and the relation between science and technology. Importantly, the philosophy and history will provide us with different kinds of perspectives and methods.

Teaching method:
The philosophy and History classes will run in parallel. Each part consists of 8 lectures.
The philosophy part involves several assignments.
Assumed previous knowledge
Enrolment in this course is subject to the following general requirement:
• Student is registered as a PSTS-student (on the basis of a formal decision of the programme’s Admission Committee).
• All other students need formal approval from the PSTS programme staff. Please contact the programme’s study counsellor or programme co-ordinator
Required materials
Course material
Ladyman, J. (2002). Understanding philosophy of science. London: Routledge
Course material
Balashov Y. et. al. (2002). Philosophy of Science – Contemporary Readings. Routledge Contemporary Readings in Philosophy.
Course material
Chunglin Kwa, Styles of Knowing. A new history of science from ancient times to the present, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011. 978-0822961512
Course material
Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet. Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. 978-1421401539
Recommended materials
Further study materials include electronic articles and powerpoint slides, which will be made available through Blackboard.
Instructional modes
Presence dutyYes


Kies de Nederlandse taal