20 Credits SPRING

Aims/Description: It is virtually impossible to overstate the importance that science has in our everyday life. Here is a brief list of things that would not exist without modern science: computers, phones, internet, cars, airplanes, pharmaceutical drugs, electric guitars. Imagine your life without these things. It looks very different doesn't it? Science, however, is not important only in virtue of its practical applications. in fact, many would agree that the the primary value of science is that of being the best available source of knowledge about the world. Indeed, it seems fair to say that we made more discoveries after the 17th century scientific revolution [e.g. the laws of planetary motion, the principles underlying biological evolution, the laws governing quantum phenomena, the structure of DNA, the cellular architecture of the brain] than in all the previous millenia. This raises important philosophical questions. First, what is science? What are the criteria that demarcate science from non-science? For example, what is the difference between science and religion? Second, how does science work? What are the methods and eplanatory strategies that make it so successful? Is there such a thing as the scientific method, and what counts as a scientific explanation? Third, is science objective? That is, is science a form of rational and unbiased inquiry, or does it reflect ethical, political, and social factors? Finally, is science the fundamental source of knowledge about the world? Does science tell us how things really are? These are some of the questions that we will tackle in this course.

Teaching Methods: Lectures, Seminars
Assessment: Formal Exam, Course work

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Philosophy):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

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Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK