Introduction to philosophy of science

lfilo1220  2017-2018  Louvain-la-Neuve

Introduction to philosophy of science
4 credits
45.0 h
Feltz Bernard; Pourtois Hervé;
Main themes
The main topics addressed will be: the epistemic status of scientific theories and models; the dynamics of science; the scope, and limits, of scientific knowledge; scientific explanation; realism; reductionism; the role of finality; naturalism; etc.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


The aim of the course is to introduce the students to contemporary philosophy of science. By the end of the course, the student should have mastered the central problems and main authors concerned with articulating a philosophy of nature in the 20th Century. The student should be able to present a question (orally or in writing), in a clear, synthetic, and precise manner. The student will be expected to argue in a rigorous manner in favor of one of the positions addressed while also taking a critical stance towards that same position. Finally, the student will be able to orient him or herself in the literature on philosophy of science.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
Part 1 ' Introduction to the philosophy of natural sciences (by Bernard Feltz)
  1. The nature of scientific explanation (nomological-deductive model and its critics ; prediction and explanation) ; theory and experiment.
  2. Rationality and dynamics of scientific evolution (Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos)
  3. Scientific realism and reductionism
Part 2 ' Introduction to the philosophy of social sciences with a focus on sociology (by Hervé Pourtois)
  1. Epistemological issues at the origin of sociology (Durkheim and Weber)
  2. Explanation in social sciences (rational choice theory, functionalism, structuralism, communicative action)
  3. Social sciences and social criticism (the Critical theory of society)
Teaching methods
Magistral lecturessometimes assuming the prior reading of texts by the students.
The plan and any details will be communicated in writing by each teacher at the beginning of the concerned part of his teaching.
Evaluation methods
Oral exam(with written preparation) to assess understanding of the issues, concepts and approaches presented in the course and the ability to reason about them.
Other information
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Public Administration

Bachelor in Philosophy

Minor in Philosophy