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Philosophy of a Specific Discipline: Philosophy of Natural Sciences

With effect from September 2012 the name of this master’s programme will be
MA Philosophy (120 EC): Philosophy of Natural Sciences. description

Philosophy of Natural Sciences is a specialisation of the MA programme in Philosophy of a Specific Discipline. For information about the objectives and general structure of the programme, the MA thesis and the requirements for graduation, please see MA in Philosophy of Specific Discipline . For a brief description of this specialisation click on ‘Meer info/More Info’ below.

Structure of the programme

The programme consists of five components:

  • 40 EC / MA courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy (Natural Sciences)

  • 20 EC / 2 Specialist MA courses in Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • 30 EC / 3 MA courses in Philosophy (to be chosen from the selected courses listed below)

  • 10 EC / Supervised literature study in the area of the master’s thesis

  • 20 EC / Master’s thesis

The structure of the two-year programme is presented below. The subjects of the philosophy seminars are varying yearly. Please note that the sequence of the various components of individual programmes may deviate from the structure proposed due to the availability of courses in a particular semester, or to the extent to which the non-philosophical part of the programme has already been completed. However, the two specialist courses are compulsory, and students must take one specialist course each year. The master’s thesis will be the final part of the programme. Students are requested to discuss their programme with their tutor before the start of their first semester.

First Year

  • 30 EC / Courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy (Natural Sciences)

  • 10 EC / Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • 20 EC / 2 MA courses in Philosophy

Second Year

  • 10 EC / MA courses in chosen discipline outside philosophy (Natural Sciences)

  • 10 EC / Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • 10 EC / MA course in Philosophy

  • 10 EC / Supervised literature study in the area of the MA thesis

  • 20 EC / MA thesis

First/Second Year

In 2011-2012 the following philosophy courses are on offer for the specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences. (For courses on offer in the chosen discipline please see the programmes of the discipline concerned.)

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Natural Sciences

In total, students take two specialist courses, one course in year 1 and one course in year 2.

Philosophy of Natural Sciences: Science and Society in History 10

MA courses in Philosophy

In total, students take three MA courses in Philosophy, two courses in year 1 and one course in year 2.

Truth 10
Husserl's Fifth Investigation 10
Introduction to Kant: Metaphysics, Epistemology and the Problem of Freedom 10
Philosophy and Science of Free Will 10
Metaphysics, 21st-century style 10
Theories of Judgement 10
Geesteswetenschappen en natuurwetenschappen in historisch-filosofisch perspectief 10

Supervised literature study in the area of the master's thesis

Literature Study (Philosophy) 10

MA Thesis

MA Thesis (Philosophy of a Specific Discipline) 20

Meer info


Philosophy of Natural Sciences covers ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues arising from the natural sciences.

Ontological issues pertain to the ultimate constitution of the world studied by natural scientists. What sorts of objects are acknowledged by the natural sciences? How are these objects defined and identified? In what senses can they be said to be real?

Epistemological issues pertain to the nature and limits of our knowledge of the natural world. How are concepts related to the world? What is the status of theoretical entities? What is the difference between observation and experiment?

Lastly, methodological issues pertain to the practice and dynamics of research in the natural sciences, including the interpretation of empirical data, theory formulation, and hypothesis test. A particular focus is the diversity of the natural sciences, which range from law formulating sciences such as physics to historical sciences such as earth science. A selection of these topics is selected for discussion each academic year.

Specialisation co-ordinator

Dr. J.W. (James) McAllister