Philosophy and Ethics of Science

Dr. Carlos Zednik

Winter 2018-2019
Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg


This introductory lecture is concerned with the philosophy of science and focuses on the methods, foundations and normative constraints of scientific research. It address several issues in general philosophy of science, including: demarcation; scientific reasoning and confirmation; scientific explanation; reduction; theories, models and simulations; theory-holism and underdetermination; scientific realism. It also addresses specific issues in "applied" philosophy of science, especially as they pertain to neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science.

The LSF-entry for this lecture course is here.


This lecture class counts toward the BA-PNK-Modules P10 (4CP, old "Satzung") or WT (2CP, new "Satzung"), and the MSc-PNK-Module PKN (2CP). It also fulfills the "Philosophy of Science" requirement for the MSc. Integrative Neuroscience.

There are two written exams: a midterm on 14.11.2018 and a final on 23.01.2019. The exams will be held in class and will consist of several short-answer questions to be answered in approximately 30 minutes. The exams are not cumulative, so the final exam only covers material introduced after the midterm. The grading scale for each exam will vary, depending on whether you expect to earn 2CP or 4CP. Passing both exams is necessary and sufficient for passing the course.

Lecture plan

Due to unfortunate scheduling conflicts, an unreasonable number of regular lecture meetings have to be cancelled. To compensate, two "doubleheader" sessions on 24.10.2018 and 12.12.2018 will run from 15:00 to 19:00.

Note: All lecture slides are password-protected.

Demarcation and the Scientific Method
17.10.2018Confirmation I: Reasoning
24.10.2018Confirmation II: Evidence
24.10.2018 17-19Theories, Models & Simulations
31.10.2018No class (Holiday)
07.11.2018Laws and Causality
14.11.2018Midterm Exam
21.11.2018No class!
28.11.2018No class!
05.12.2018Explanation I: DN, Relevance, Unification
12.12.2018Explanation II: Functions and Mechanisms
12.12.2018 17-19Reduction
19.12.2018No class!
09.01.2019Realism and Anti-Realism
16.01.2019Ethics of Science
23.01.2019Final Exam
Why does Philosophy of Science Matter?