PHIL2005 Exploring the Nature of Science

6 points
Not available in 2020UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Philosophy major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 2 elective
Does science provide a guide to reality? Should we believe in the existence of black holes, electrons and quantum particles simply because science tells us to? Is there a single characteristic that distinguishes science from other intellectual endeavours? This unit examines some of the deep philosophical issues that arise when reflecting on the nature and purpose of scientific inquiry. Topics covered may include, but are not limited to: logical positivism; falsificationism; rival theories of scientific method; the possibility of a ‘demarcation criterion' distinguishing science from non-science; influential arguments for and against scientific realism; the nature of scientific revolutions and progress in science; feminist and sociological challenges to the status of science; the nature of scientific explanation; and issues surrounding reduction and the ‘unity of science'.
Students are able to (1) independently interpret philosophical texts; (2) locate philosophical ideas in their historical context; (3) evaluate philosophical positions, including identifying counter-examples and identifying and questioning their basic assumptions; (4) express ideas in a clear and precise manner; (5) construct persuasive arguments; (6) demonstrate strong written communication and research skills; (7) demonstrate familiarity with key terms, positions, and arguments in philosophy of science; (8) demonstrate an understanding of how philosophical issues arise inevitably from the study and practice of science; and (9) identify and critically evaluate metaphysical and epistemological assumptions underlying various conceptions of scientific inquiry.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) quizzes; (2) assignments; and (3) participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

To pass this unit, a student must: (a) achieve an overall mark of 50 per cent or higher for the unit; and (b) achieve the requisite requirements(s) or a mark of 50 per cent or greater, whichever is higher and specified in the unit outline, for the assignments component.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Chris Letheby
Unit rules
24 points of Level 1 units
PHIL2270 Philosophy of Science
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week (for 10 weeks); workshops: 1 hour per week (for 10 weeks)
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus. Copies of textbooks and other readings will be made available for students to access from the Library, online wherever possible as well as in print.