HS 443 : Philosophy and History of Science

Development and growth of some of the major concepts, laws and theories from Babylonian astronomy to quantum theory by which physical scientists explain the phenomena of the external world.  Use of selected case studies to stress the interconnection of concepts and conceptual schemes to experimentation and observation, the relation between observed data and theoretical concepts, the intellectual procedures of the working scientists, social and philosophical ideas, growth of knowledge.  Analysis of the role of experience, logical thinking, and free imagination in science.  In particular, geometry and mechanics are discussed as examples, with special emphasis on the distinction between empirical facts and the language by which those facts are described.

The basic ideas of modern physics are presented with emphasis on the contribution they can make toward the solution of philosophic questions, such as the status of theoretical terms, models, theories, the nature of time, space, causal and statistical law, and the conflict between philosophical creeds like materialism, idealism, pragmatism etc.

The views on science: the Received View, Popper Kuhn, Lukatos, Feyerabend, Toulmin.  The growth of scientific knowledge. The nature of social science.  The nature of general laws, theories and explanation in social science.  The problems in developing a science of human behaviour.

Texts/References

J.B. Conant, Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science, Harvard University Press, Vol.I and II, 1948.

Suppe, Frederick, The structure of Scientific Theories, Second Edition, of Illinois Press, 1977.

T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution, University of Chicago, 1962.

S.D. Agashe, A. Gupta and K. Valicha, (eds.), Science, Technology and Social Change, Univ. of Bombay, 1980.

G.C. Homans, The Nature of Social Sciences, Harcourt Brace, and World, Inc., 1967.