Foundations of philosophy of science

Basic Information

Course 2015/2016
Carl Hoefer
José Antonio Díez Calzada
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy


Thur. 15-18
Room 412, Facultat de Filosofia, UB



2015-16, 1st term


José Díez, Carl Hoefer


1. Introduction: Anti/realism, its nature and scope

2. The problems of scientific realism

3. The context of scientific realism: theories and models

4. Arguments/motivations for SR/SA. Selective SR

5. SR in Physics

6. SR in Biology


7. Presentations


The course will start with six introductory sessions giving a general overview of the problem and the background needed. In this part the student will have to do weekly short home exercises in order to assimilate the concepts and tools introduced.

In the second part of the course, every student will have to do a presentation of one paper of his/her choice, which will be followed by a general discussion. Before every presentation, all the students will have to deliver an answer to a short question about the paper that will be presented.


Every student will have to write a short final paper related to the paper presented, or other topic. 


Grading will consist in weekly short questions (10%), class presentation (30%) and final paper (60%).


Intended Learning Outcomes:

CB6 – Students should be able to acquire and critically understand central philosophical theories in a way that puts them in a position to develop and apply original ideas.

CB9 - Students should be able to communicate their knowledge and their arguments to specialized audiences in a clear and articulate way.

CG1. To abstract, analyze and elaborate valid arguments and identify logical fallacies.

CG2. Design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects in their area of expertise.

CG3. Switching between the general and detailed discussion, providing real or imaginary examples able to support or refute the position at stake.

CG4. Working both independently and in a team in international contexts.

CG5. Identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional or uncritical assumptions, and vague or vacuous theses.

CE1. Recognize the concepts and methods of contemporary analytical philosophy and use them in the formulation and defense of philosophical proposals

CE2. Identify the core arguments and theories of contemporary theoretical philosophy.

CE4. Assess the writings of leading contemporary analytic philosophers.

CE5. Identify ideas on the most advance contemporary philosophical debate and research.

CE7. Using specialized, critical philosophical terminology.




- A. Chakravartti, 2010, A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable, Cambridge U. P.

- A. Diéguez, 1998, Realismo Científico: Una introducción al debate actual en la filosofía de la ciencia, U. de Málaga.

- B. Ellis, 2010, The Metaphysics of Scientific Realism, McGill  

- A. Kukla, 1998, Studies in Studies in Scientific Realism, Oxford U. P.

- J. Leplin, 1997A Novel Defense of Scientific Realism, Oxford U. P. 

- I. Niiniluoto, 2002, Critical Scientific Realism, Oxford U.P.

- S. Psillos, 1999, Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth , Routledge.

- N. Rescher, 1987, Scientific Realism, Springer.

- E. Rojas, 2011, El realismo científico y el conocimiento de los inobservables: ¿estamos justificados en creer en las entidades inobservables que las teorías científicas postulan?, Ed Académica Española.

- H. Shanke, 2008, Scientific Realism and the Rationality of ScienceAshgate. 




- Boyd, R. N., 1983, ‘On the Current Status of the Issue of Scientific realism’, Erkenntnis, 19: 45–90.

- Carnap, R., 1950, ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, Revue Intérnationale de Philosophie, 4: 20–40. Reprinted in Carnap, R. 1956: Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantic and Modal Logic, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Chakravartty, A., 1998, ‘Semirealism’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 29: 391–408.

- Chakravartty, A.,  2008, ‘What You Don't Know Can't Hurt You: Realism and the Unconceived’, Philosophical Studies,137: 149–158.

- Egg, M, 2012,  'Causal Warrant for Realism about Particle Physics', Journal for General Philosophy of Science 

December 2012, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 259-280.
- Ellis, B., 1985, ‘What Science Aims to Do’, in Churchland et alt (eds.), Images of Science 

Fine, A., 1986, ‘Unnatural Attitudes: Realist and Antirealist Attachments to cience’, Mind, 95: 149–177.

 - Frigg, R. and Votsis, I.  ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Structural Realism But Were Afraid to Ask', European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1, 2011, 227–276,  

- Giere, R., 1985, 'Constructive Empiricism', in Churchland et alt (eds.), Images of Science 

- Hacking, I., 1985, ‘Do We See Through a Microscope?’, in Churchland & Hooker (eds.), Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism(with a reply from Bas C. van Fraassen), Chicago: University of Chicago Press. - Laudan, L., 1981, ‘A Confutation of Convergent Realism’, Philosophy of  Science, 48: 19–48.

- Hoefer, C. –Marti, G. (2015):  "Taking the PhySicS out of SR (or: Selective SR Done Right)", manuscript

- Kitcher, P., 2001, ‘Real Realism: The Galilean Strategy’, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 110, No. 2 (Apr., 2001), pp. 151-197

- Kuhlman, M., 2012, 'Quantum Field Theory', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

Ladyman, J., 1998, ‘What is Structural Realism?’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 29: 409–424.

Laudan, L., 1981, ‘A Confutation of Convergent Realism’, Philosophy of  Science, 48: 19–48.

- Leplin, J., 1981, ‘Truth and Scientific Progress’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 12: 269–292.

Lyons, T.,  Scientific Realism and the Stratagema de Divide et Impera, Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 57 (2006), 537–560

Maxwell, G., 1962, ‘On the Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities’, in H. Feigl & G. Maxwell (eds.), Scientific Explanation, Space, and Time, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume III, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

- Papineau, D., 2010, ‘Realism, Ramsey Sentences and the Pessimistic Meta-Induction’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 41: 375–385.

- Peters, D., 2014, What Elements of Successful Scientific Theories Are the Correct Targets for “Selective”

Scientific Realism?,  Philosophy of Science, Vol. 81, No. 3 (July 2014), pp. 377-397

- Psillos, S. 1999, 'Resisting the pessimistic induction', ch. 5 of Scientific Realism

- Psillos, S, 2000, 'Empiricism vs Scientific Realism: Belief in Truth Matters', International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 14, pp.57-75.

- Psillos, S. 2011, ‘Realism with Humean face’, in French and Saatsi (eds.) Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science.

- Stanford, P., 2003, 'Pyrrhic Victories for Scientific Realism’, Journal of Philosophy, 100: 553–572.

- Van Fraassen, B., 1976, ‘To Save the Phenomena’, Journal of Philosophy, 73/18, 623-32 (reprinted as ch. 3 of The Scientific Image)

- Van Fraassen, B., 1980, ‘Arguments Concernig Scientific Realism’, ch. 2 of The Scientific Image)

- Van Fraassen, B., 1982, ' The Charybdis of realism: Epistemological implications of Bell's inequality', July 1982, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 25-38.

- Vickers, J. 2013, A Confrontation of Convergent Realism, Source: Philosophy of Science, Vol. 80, No. 2 (April 2013), pp. 189-211

- Worrall, J., 1989, ‘Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?’, Dialectica, 43: 99–124