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Why am I doing what?! A Crash course on the philosophy of science


“Chance favours the prepared mind.”
Louis Pasteur, Lecture, University of Lille (7 December 1854)

What is the philosophy of science? How does it relate to science, in theory and practice? What is it good for? Why should I care? Will my research proft from knowing about it, or is it (as Richard Feynman quipped) as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds?

This two-day crash course consists of four modules. Each module consists of short lectures interspersed with moderated plenary and small-group discussions. The aim of the course is not to make you an expert philosopher of science. It is also not a workshop on ethics (although we will inevitably touch on ethical questions). Instead, this course will induce (or seduce?) you to refect on your own research questions, on concepts you may take for granted, on the methods you use to achieve your research goals, and on the trustworthiness and scope of the results you generate. Such refection will empower you to peek beyond your own horizon, and that of your research community and society. It will
enable you to detect biases and gaps in the knowledge of your feld. It will provide you with a more realistic vision of which research questions and approaches are likely to be fruitful, and which ones are likely to be barren. It will give you a fresh perspective, and some useful philosophical tools that may come in handy on your research expedition into the unknown. In brief, refecting on what you are doing will make you a better scientist.

The course is structured into four modules:

Day 1, morning: Philosophy of science: what, why, and how?
Day 1, afternoon: How to do science? The process of inquiry.
Day 2, morning: Whose science? Perspectivism & science/technology studies.
Day 2, afternoon: Your science? Discussion of students’ questions.

This workshop requires no specifc philosophical background knowledge. What it does require is an open and curious attitude, and the willingness to question your own premises. Participants are expected to actively engage in the discussions. The course is designed for PhD students. Curious MSc students or more senior researchers are very welcome to join if there are open spaces.

This crash-course in the philosophy of science will be limited to 15–20 participants. If we receive many more applications than there are available spaces, we will fnd an additional date for a second edition in March.

Questions/suggestions: email johannes.jaeger@cri-paris.org.


Johannes Jaeger –  CRI research fellow
E-mail: johannes.jaeger@cri-paris.org


Dates: 28/2/19 – 1/3/19
Location: Learning Center Extension – ground floor, CRI building


Enroll on Google Classroom

  • Log in with you cri-paris.org email address
  • Click the + in the top right corner of the screen and click Join class
  • Enter registration code: jaa11ub