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Philosophy of Science


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • Second-year students enrolled in the BA Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives
  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


The modern sciences provide the most systematic and accurate knowledge that seems possible. However, they rest on explicit and implicit presuppositions that deserve the critical attention of philosophers. Philosophy of science attempts to provide a complete and convincing picture of the foundations and methods of the sciences. In this course, a central problem of contemporary philosophy of science will be discussed each week. The significance of philosophy of science for broader philosophical questions will also be addressed.

Course objectives

This course aims to introduce students to the central ideas and theories of contemporary philosophy of science, and to train them in the reading and discussing of philosophical papers in this area.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the place of philosophy of science in relation to other branches of philosophy and the empirical sciences;

  • core concepts in philosophy of science, including “observation”, “theory-ladenness”, “underdetermination”, “falsification”, “paradigm”, “revolution”, “law of nature” and “empirical adequacy”;

  • some modern debates in philosophy of science concerning these core concepts;

  • some key positions and schools of thought in the context of these debates, including empiricism, positivism, inductivism, falsificationism, realism, and instrumentalism;

  • the contributions to these debates of some of the leading modern philosophers of science, including Thomas S. Kuhn and Karl R. Popper;

  • some (unsolved) problems in contemporary philosophy of science, including the problem of underdetermination of theory choice by observation and problems concerning realism and instrumentalism.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • describe and discuss philosophy of science as philosophical and academic discipline;

  • explain and discuss the above-mentioned core concepts in philosophy of science;

  • describe the above-mentioned debates in philosophy of science;

  • describe and assess the above positions and currents in the context of these debates;

  • choose and motivate a personal point of view with regard to these debates;

  • describe the above-mentioned problems in contemporary philosophy of science and outline and assess proposals for solving them.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures, 2 hours per week

  • Tutorials, 2 hours per week

Class attendance is required for both lectures and tutorials.

Assessment method


  • Midterm written examination with open essay questions

  • Final written examination with open essay questions


  • Midterm written examination (20%)

  • Final written examination (80%)


Written examination with open essay questions. The grade for this resit replaces all previously obtained partial grades and counts for 100% of the final grade.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list


  • Alan F. Chalmers, What Is This Thing Called Science? Fourth edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2013. ISBN 9780335262786 (pbk).
    Additional literature will be made available on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.