nl en

Theories of Science




Our world is a scientific world. Every aspect of daily life is affected by scientific discoveries and ideas. In a sense biomedical science operates on a cross-road of various other sciences, including chemistry, physics, biology, medicine and psychology. At the end of the third year of your studies, you are acquainted with most of the relevant areas of research and you did research yourself. In many fields you have come to the frontiers of current knowledge.
In this module you will no longer focus on the content of science, but rather on the ideas and principles that underlie the general idea of scientific knowledge. You will learn to critically reflect on the scope and limits of scientific knowledge. Using examples from biomedical science you will study the complex relation between observation and theory. You will develop in-depth insights into the concepts of knowledge, truth, explanation, supervenience and reduction. Finally, equipped with such fundamental epistemological insights, you will study the various ways mind and body may be related. This module will provide you with a basic understanding of the philosophical basis of biomedical science.

h3.Course objectives

The student:

  • will be able to explain how scientific theories and empirical data are related and under what conditions theories in biomedical science are supported by data.

  • will be able to distinguish between different forms of explanation and can apply this insight to biomedical science.

  • has knowledge of the concept of supervenience and will be able to describe various reductionist strategies to study complex systems at different levels of organization.

  • has an argued position with respect to the philosophical basis of mind-body research.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and discussion groups

Assessment method

Written exam with essay questions.

Reading list

An introduction to philosophical analysis. J.Hospers.