History and Philosophy Of Science | Scientific Reasoning
X200 | 3052 | J. Lee


For the last few centuries, science has been extremely successful in
producing and organizing knowledge in various fields of learning, as
well as bringing about an effective material control over the
natural world.  Universities are filled with scientists, most
college students major in at least one field of science, and people
agree on the general utility of science.  Not only does science
provide systematic and precise descriptions of the natural and
social world, scientific methods or a scientific way of thinking has
also been an exemplar that our thinking should follow in other human
activities and even in our ordinary life.  Why is science so
successful and what is the essence of its methods?

One answer to these questions has given by a very influential,
twentieth-century view of science.  According to this view, science
can be best understood by the analysis of its logical structure, and
scientific methods consist in various "logical" methods.  Roughly
conceived, these methods comprise not only an acedemic field of
logic per se, but various skills of reasoning, particularly
mathematical use of symbols and proofs.

In this course, we will study these various methods of scientific
reasoning by first introducing the basic elements of informal
logic.  Students will learn how to identify, analyze, and evaluate
various forms of deductive and inductive arguments in ordinary
language and how to detect and correct common mistakes in reasoning
(fallacies).  We will also cover basics of formal arguments using
symbols, truth-functional connectives, and quantifiers.  Other
topics of scientific methods for this course inlcude:
understanding "cause" in scientific explanation, using probability
and statistics in induction, supporting and confirming scientific
hypotheses, and devloping rules for categorical syllogism.  As time
permits, we will also look at some sample writings of philsophers
who historically shaped the discipline.