Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

Sommersemester 2022 Syllabus Vorlesung mit Übungen Mittwochs, 14–16 Uhr, Übungen Freitags, 8–10 Uhr und 10–12 Uhr Max-Kade-Auditorium 1

The lecture introduces students to the philosophy of science by looking at the most important problems and debates: What are sciences, and how are they related to philosophy? How do scientific explanations work? Are there laws of nature? What roles do objectivity, rationality and other values play in scientific practices? And does science discover what is real?

The lecture is organised around five topics:

  1. Sciences, Philosophy and History: What are sciences, how are they related to philosophy and what role does history play?

  2. Explanations, Interventions and Experiments: How do scientific explanations work? How do scientific practices represent and intervene in whatever they study? What are experiments and why are they so central?

  3. Objects, Values and Laws: What are the components of scientific theories? Are there natural laws? Are “real sciences” value-free?

  4. Realism, Anti-Realism and Relativism: Is reality what scientific practices discover? Is there progress towards truth?

  5. Philosophical Issues in the Sciences: Specific sciences pose specific philosophical problems, for example: What are numbers? What is Life? Are social sciences and humanities categorically distinct from natural sciences?


  1. Übungsgruppe: Friday, 8–10 Uhr, AU 01036a
  2. Übungsgruppe: Friday, 10–12 Uhr, BT R 206
  3. Übungsgruppe: Friday, 10–12 Uhr, AU 01065
  4. Übungsgruppe: Friday, 10–12 Uhr, FMF HS 01011

Allgemeine Literatur zur Vorbereitung

Okasha, Samir (2016): Philosophy of Science. A Very Short Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bortolotti, Lisa (2008): An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Cambridge: Polity.

Oreskes, Naomi (2021): Why Trust Science? Princeton, N.J./Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Rosenberg, Alexander and Lee McIntyre (2020): Philosophy of Science. A Contemporary Introduction. 4th ed. New York/London: Routledge.


The lecture is a mandatory part of the Core in the module “Theory of Science.” There are no special requirements for taking it.


Examination: Written exam (100%), 27th July 2022, 14–16h.

Pass/Fail Examination: To be eligible for the exam, students must either write two response papers to two different texts discussed in the workgroups or give an oral presentation to one of the texts. Please read the syllabus for more details!