Course for MA students with basic background in philosophy and/or history of science and with interest in science as a social practice.
In the not so distant past, philosophers, historians and sociologists of science understood society as something external to science. Nowadays, it is much harder to deny that culture, politics and economics permeate and profoundly shape the scientific enterprise up to its most “intimate” core procedures of validating truth claims and establishing facts. Scientific communities, networks and institutions loom particularly large in contemporary accounts of how science works. In this seminar, we will explore this “paradigm shift” in the studies of science by examining the key classical and contemporary contributions to understanding both science in society and society in science.
The readings chosen for this course combine theoretical discussions with exploration of specific historical cases. In particular, we will survey various perspectives on the 16-17th century science, the age of “the scientific revolution” and “the republic of scholars”; explore the social and political contexts in which “big science” of the 20th century emerged in various Western countries and in the Soviet Union; and examine the role of the colonial context in the history of Western anthropology. The course will pay particular attention to the thorny issue of how to account for the practices of validating truth claims within the scientific community and establishing the authority and prestige of science and scientists in the broader public domain. Students will be encouraged to adopt a generous attitude to defining “science,” i.e. to consider both natural and social sciences within the same framework. We will conclude by exploring the changing role of universities and funding agencies in shaping the development of scientific research and in defining the place of science and scientists in contemporary society.
Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.
Mode of instruction
Seminar (lecture and discussion)
Active class participation
Two short analytical papers
One oral presentation
Final research essay (3,000-4,000 words)
Golinski, J., Making Natural Knowledge: Constructivism and the History of Science, with a new Preface (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
The complete list of seminar readings will be available on Blackboard by September.
Please register for this course on uSis.
Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.
Compulsory course for students in speciallisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences of the MA Programme in Philosophy of a Specific Discipline.
Specialisation (MA Philosophy): History and Philosophy of the Sciences
Specialisations (MA Philosophy of a Specific Discipline): Philosophy of Medical Sciences.