Philosophy 291 (Advanced Seminar in Epistemology or Metaphysics)

Fall 2011


"Scientific Knowledge in the Modern World"

What role do social factors play in scientific knowledge-building? How is scientific knowledge shaped by cognitive and noncognitive factors? Should science be "value free," or can values play an important role in scientific inquiry? Should science (or the philosophy of science) be socially responsible or officially neutral?

Required texts:

Miriam Solomon, Social Empiricism (MIT Press, 2001)

Helen E. Longino, The Fate of Knowledge (Princeton University Press, 2002)

Heather E. Douglas, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009)

Janet A. Kourany, Philosophy of Science after Feminism (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Course requirements:

• Weekly “blog posts” (critical or reflective essays on the assigned reading of at least 500 words)
• Commentary on classmates’ and professor’s posts
• Weekly online discussion of readings, postings, and questions.
• Longer paper at the end of the term.

**Note that this is an online course, and all course activities will take place via Desire2Learn (**

Tentative reading schedule:

Week 0 (Aug 24-26):Log in to the class and introduce yourself.

Week 1 (Aug 29-Sep 2): Solomon, Chapters 1-4.

Week 2 (Sep 6-9): Solomon, Chapters 5-8.

Week 3 (Sep 12-16): More Solomon discussion.

Week 4 (Sep 19-23): Douglas, Preface and Chapters 1-3.

Week 5 (Sep 26-30): Douglas, Chapters 4-6.

Week 6 (Oct 3-7): Douglas, Chapters 7-8 and Epilogue.

Week 7 (Oct 10-14): More Douglas discussion.

Week 8 (Oct 17-21): Kourany, Chapters 1-3.

Week 9 (Oct 24-28): Kourany, Chapters 4-5.

Week 10 (Oct 31-Nov 4): More Kourany discussion.

Week 11 (Nov 7-11): Longino, Chapters 1-3.

Week 12 (Nov 14-18): Longino, Chapters 4-6.

Week 13 (Nov 21-23): Longino, Chapters 7-9.

Week 14 (Nov 28-Dec 2): More Longino discussion.

Week 15 (Dec 5-9): More discussion.

If you are an undergraduate philosophy major who needs a permission number to add this course, or a graduate student who wishes to audit the course, or if you have further questions, contact Prof. Janet D. Stemwedel (