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PHIL 160: Why Do We Believe in Quarks, Evolution, and Other “Crazy” Things? Professor: Lynn Hankinson Nelson Instructors: Lars Enden Joe Ricci Jon Rosenberg PHIL 160: Introduction to Philosophy of Science Course website: http://faculty.washington.edu/lynnhank/PHIL160.html Course description and requirements Course topics and reading schedule, with links to readings Assignments, including on line quizzes for weeks 1-3 PHIL 160: Introduction to Philosophy of Science Philosophy of science: What is science? How is it different, if it is, from other enterprises or institutions (fiction? religion? politics?) What is its impact, historically and currently – on our beliefs? lives? PHIL 160 What is the kind of evidence that supports scientific hypotheses and/or theories? How strong is that evidence? Suppose a theory includes objects (such as quarks) or historical events/processes (such as geological or evolutionary events/processes) that are not directly observable? What kind of evidence supports such theories and the objects/processes they include? PHIL 160 What is science? An enterprise concerned to develop theories that explain and predict phenomena Myths as “proto” science Origin myths Vegetation myths Demeter, Persephone, and Hades An explanation of the changes in seasons And, as such, a prediction of future phenomena How are myths different from science, if they are – and/or when did genuine science emerge? PHIL 160 The ancient Greeks: What is everything made of and how does the answer to this question explain change? The one and many Thales: Everything is made of water Anaximander: Everything is made of “the boundless” Anaximenes: Everything is made of air Democritus: Everything is made of a-toms Appearance and reality Natural explanations of phenomena Critical evaluation of such explanations PHIL 160 Some major theories and episodes in the history of science Aristotelian/Ptolemaic physics and cosmology The Copernican Revolution Newtonian Physics The Gradualist Theory in Geology The Darwinian Revolution The emergence of the social sciences, including Anthropology Einstein’s Special and General Relativity The Big Bang Theory The discovery of the structure of DNA PHIL 160 Terminology Epistemology: theory of knowledge What is the source, what are the limits (if any) of our knowledge? Specific to science: how are theories generated, how/why are they accepted, what are their limits? Ontology (Metaphysics): what there is What do our theories assume there is? What evidence is there for such entities? PHIL 160 Terminology 1. 2. Logic: The study of inferential relationships Inference: Moving from (reasoning from) one claim or set of claims to another Examples: Drug X has no harmful effects on rats Rats and humans are in relevant and significant ways similar Therefore, probably Drug X will have no harmful effects on humans PHIL 160 Terminology 1. 2. Logic: The study of inferential relationships Inference: Moving from (reasoning from) one claim or set of claims to another Examples: All humans are mortal. Socrates is a human. Therefore, Socrates is mortal. PHIL 160 Terminology Logic: The study of inferential relationships Inference: Moving from one claim or set of claims to another In relation to science: what (if anything) is the logic of “discovery” – what kind of inferences lead to the discovery of hypotheses of theories? What is the logic of PHIL 160: Introduction to Philosophy of Science A key notion: arguments An argument is a set of sentences (at least two), one of which is a claim being argued for (the conclusion) and the other or others of which are offered as reasons (or premises) to support it. There are good arguments and bad arguments, and good arguments for false claims as well as bad arguments for true claims. PHIL 160: Introduction to Philosophy of Science A valid argument: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. ----------------------Therefore, Socrates is mortal. Also a valid argument: All men are purple Socrates is a man --------------------Socrates is purple PHIL 160: Introduction to Philosophy of Science An invalid argument: All men are mortal. Socrates is mortal. ----------------------Therefore, Socrates is a man. Valid arguments: it is not possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. Sound arguments: are valid AND have true premises PHIL 160: Introduction to Philosophy of Science Leon Lederman Nobel laureate in physics An experimental physicist in the area of particle physics Former director of Fermilab The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question? Still pursuing the questions that interested the ancient Greeks And addressing the question: what is the evidence for “unobservable” objects, events, and/or processes?