Doing Philosophy of Science: Scientific Reasoning and its Place in Society

Broadening minor
Minor code
10 weeks


Given the pivotal role that science plays both in the academic world and in society at large, philosophers have considered and continue to consider the very foundations of science, the possibility and nature of scientific knowledge, its historical, social and political prerequisites and ramifications, and the relation between, on the one hand, scientific theories and models, and, on the other hand, the world.  This minor is a thorough introduction to all these aspects of philosophy and of science, and focuses especially on carefully developing the academic and philosophical skills for doing ”philosophy of science”, and on putting them into practice.

Learning objectives

  • Acquiring the academic and philosophical skills for doing philosophy of science

  • Being able to distinguish, recognize and compare the different kinds of scientific reasoning
  • Being able to reflect critically on the assumptions, powers and limits of the different kinds of scientific reasoning
  • Understanding and evaluating the resemblances and differences between kinds of ”doing science” in both other domains and other eras
  • Being able to reflect critically on the various roles that scientific knowledge plays in society
  • Understanding the methodology of philosophical critique with regard to social sciences and humanties, and assessing its relevance for society
  • Being able to analyze and evaluate the different kinds of critique, both historically and systematically
  • Learning about classical and contemporary ideas and debates in philosophical anthropology, the philosophy of technology, and science and technology studies

Special aspects

Lectures will be scheduled in the (late) afternoon or evening.

Overview modules

Module 1: Foundations of Philosophy

  • Code: FW-WB3932
  • EC:  3.75
  • Content: This course provides an introduction into the foundations of (analytic) philosophy.
    More in particular, we present a concise introduction to the foundational disciplines of logic, philosophy of language and epistemology.
  • Teaching method: Lectures and seminars
  • Teaching materials: See Canvas
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week 
  • Self study: 14 hours per week

Module 2: Philosophy of Science II: logic, method, knowledge, reality

  • Code: FW-WB 3929
  • EC: 3.75
  • Content: In this course we shall provide an answer to the question what science is, which involves addressing the values of science and the social context of science. We analyse the Big Five of philosophy of science: the most prominent concepts used ubiquitously in science: theory, model, confirmation, method, explanation. We also enter the realism debate in philosophy of science, which revolves around the issue whether science does and can tell us the truth about reality by means of so-called scientific knowledge.
  • Teaching method: Lectures with questions, and tutorials.
  • Teaching materials: Self-written modules per subject with exercises, to be discussed by the tutors.
    Essay: 1/3 of your final grade;
    Written examination: 2/3 of your final grade.
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week 
  • Self study: 12 hours per week

Module 3: Critique: The Impact of Philosophy on Social Sciences and Humanities

  • Code: FW-WB 3930
  • EC: 3.75
  • Content: What is critical thinking? What is its function in an era of ‘alternative facts’? This module explores some of the most important postwar continental social-philosophical theories and their consequences for disciplinary thinking in the humanities and social sciences. Guiding notion is that of critique, as developed by the Frankfurt School. We investigate the relation between society and the knowledge produced and methods used by social sciences and humanities (but also by medical and environmental sciences). We focus on critical theory (Habermas, Frankfurt School), poststructuralism (Foucault), feminist critique, postcolonial critique, tentacular thinking (Haraway) and critical realism (Latour).
  • Teaching method: Weekly 2x 2h lectures, 1x 2h seminars.
  • Teaching materials: Texts of Haraway, Latour, Foucault and others, available via Canvas
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week. 
  • Self study: 14 hours per week.

Module 4: Technology and Social Change

  • Code: FW-WB3931
  • EC: 3.75
  • Content: This module gives an introduction to different perspectives on how to understand the relationship between technology/technological development on the one hand and society/social change on the other hand. Students are made familiar with a set of key concepts and perspectives regarding this relationship, such as ‘technological determinism”, ‘social shaping’, ‘domestication’, ‘mediation’ and ‘ethical design’. These concepts from the philosophy of technology and STS will be illustrated by focusing on recent developments in the field of ICTs and the internet.
  • Teaching method: Lectures and interactive working groups.
  • Teaching materials: Available on Canvas
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week.
  • Self study: 14 hours per week.


Method of examination
Every module has a written test.

Composition of final grade
Your final grade is the average of the four module grades.

Review sessions for exams on individual appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions


Contact information

Mw. L. Schots

Broadening minor
Minor code
10 weeks
Erasmus School of Philosophy
Study points (EC)
Instruction language
Campus Woudestein


Please read the application procedure for more information. 

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