Philosophy of science

lsc2220  2018-2019  Louvain-la-Neuve

Philosophy of science
2 credits
30.0 h
Guay Alexandre; Martens Johannes (compensates Guay Alexandre);

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


The aim of the course is to invite Master students in science to reflect on some of the current central themes in the philosophy of science, which are related to their interests and the scientific discipline in which they have specialised. They will have to analyze, alone or in a group, a specific philosophical issue that they will choose in relation to the themes addressed in the classroom lectures. Students will have to convey the results and conclusions of their investigations in a written essay as well as through an oral presentation.



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”.
Philosophy of biology is a quite recent discipline. Originated in the 1970s, it belongs to the analytic trend in philosophy, and is mostly concerned with the theoretical and ontological issues related to the biological sciences. A particular emphasis is put on the problems related to the theory of evolution. In this seminar, we will address some of its main topics, such as: the logic of Darwin’s argument in the Origin of Species, the debate over adaptationism, the problem of the confirmation of scientific hypotheses in evolutionary biology, the controversy about group selection, the reductionism issue, the nature/culture issue, and the debate over the significance of the notion of gene in both molecular and evolutionary biology.
Teaching methods
The course will alternate between traditional lessons and collective discussions of philosophical texts/problems, related to the philosophy of biology. Participation during discussions in class is essential.
Evaluation methods
The evaluation will consist of two elements: a written essay (50% of the final grade) and a final exam (50%).
  • Les incontournables :
Sterelny, Kim & Griffiths, Paul. Sex and Death, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999.
Sober, Elliott. The Nature of Selection, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.
Sober, Elliott (ed.). Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology (2nd ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994.
  • Pour ceux qui voudraient revoir les fondamentaux en philosophie générale des sciences:
Barberousse, Kistler & Ludwig. La philosophie des sciences au XXe siècle, Champ Flammarion 2011.
Popper, La logique de la découverte scientifique, chapitre I à IV, Payot, 1973.
Faculty or entity

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

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Mathematics

Master [60] in Mathematics

Master [60] in Philosophy

Master [120] in Philosophy

Master [120] in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology

Master [60] in Geography : General

Teacher Training Certificate (upper secondary education) - Philosophy

Master [120] in Environmental Science and Management

Master [120] in Chemistry

Master [120] in Geography : General

Master [120] in Physics

Master [60] in Physics

Master [60] in Chemistry

Master [60] in Biology

Master [120] in Biology of Organisms and Ecology

Master [120] in Geography : Climatology

Master [120] in data Science: Statistic