“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 profit from knowing about it, or is it (as Richard Feynman quipped) as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds?
This intensive three-day crash course consists of six modules, plus two afternoons of follow-up discussions. Each module is structured into short lectures interspersed with plenty of 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 reflect 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 and insights you generate. Such reflection will empower you to peek beyond your own horizon, and beyond that of your research community and society. It will enable you to detect biases and gaps in the knowledge of your field. 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, reflecting on what you are doing will make you a better scientist.
The course is structured into six modules:
Day 1, morning: Introduction: a very brief history of science
Day 1, afternoon: The nature of knowledge and the scientific method
Day 2, morning: Science and progress: rules for scientific discovery and change?
Day 2, afternoon: Scientific perspectivism: beyond objectivism and constructivism
Day 3, morning: Science in context: society, technology, and scientific values
Day 3, afternoon: Your science? Discussion of students’ questions.
This workshop requires no specific philosophical background knowledge. What it does require is an open and curious attitude, and the willingness to question your own assumptions and 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, and will take place in the Learning Center Extension of the CRI on Oct 7–9, 2019 from 9am until 6pm on each day.
Questions/suggestions: email email@example.com.