Einführung in die Wissenschaftstheorie [in Englisch]

Sommersemester 2024 Seminarplan Vorlesung mit Übungen Dienstags, 12–14 Uhr, Übungen Donnerstags, 16–18 Uhr und 18–20 Uhr Max-Kade-Auditorium 1

Please read the syllabus carefully!

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? 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 and practices? Are there natural laws? Must sciences strive for the ideal of freedom from any moral or political values?

  4. Realism, Anti-Realism and Relativism: Do scientific practices discover what is real? Is there progress towards truth? How should we understand objectivity?

  5. Sciences in Society: Sciences in Society: What role does scientific knowledge play in democratic politics? What role should it play? How are sciences instituted?


  1. Übungsgruppe: Donnerstags, 16–18 Uhr, AU 01.065
  2. Übungsgruppe: Donnerstags, 16–18 Uhr, AU 01.036a
  3. Übungsgruppe: Donnerstags, 18–20 Uhr, AU 01.065
  4. Übungsgruppe: Donnerstags, 18–20 Uhr, AU 01.036a

Allgemeine Literatur zur Vorbereitung

Cartwright, Nancy (2022): A Philosopher Looks at Science. Cambridge: CUP.

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

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

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.


Graded Examination I (20%): Students must give a short (10min) presentation of one core text in the workgroups. These presentations can be held by two students, but not by larger groups. They are intended to open up the discussion in class and should answer three questions:

  1. What is the main argument in the text? How can we express its main thesis?
  2. How does the argument work?
  3. Where do you see problems? Identify where you find an argument hard to understand and where you think an argument is inconclusive.

Please be aware that you should reconstruct the argument, not just summarise all of the text. Since you will not have time to include every detail, you must decide what is important and what is not. It is far better if we discover in the discussion that we do need some of the left-out passages than if you try to cramp everything into the presentation.

Graded Examination II (80%): The final exam will be a written exam on 16 July 2024. The Re-sit date is 17 September 2024. The exam consists of two parts: A first part with knowledge questions that require short answers about material covered in the lecture, and a second part with essay question to choose from. Further information about the exam will be given in the lecture.

Guiding Questions: To help you with the reading, we will upload guiding questions on ILIAS every week. You can use them to orient your text or write an answer in order to practice for the exam. You can also get feedback for your answers from your workgroup tutor but please talk to them before handing anything in.

Attendance & Punctuality: The attendance of the lecture and the workgroup is mandatory for LAS students. The UCF standard policy applies (see ILIAS LAS Info Board –> Study Organisation –> Handbooks and Policies). Note that you are expected to arrive punctually for workgroups and the lecture. Presuming that your time is more valuable than everybody else’s time is simply arrogant, if not rude.

Philosophy students can earn 3 ECTS by attending the lecture and writing a short essay (2-3 pages) at the end of the term (due by 21 July 2024). They are free to join the workgroups, if they are not filled to capacity. A list of essay questions will be provided two weeks before the due date; if you want to write about a topic of your own choosing, please contact me before you start. All core texts will be made available via ILIAS.