Norwegian version

Philosophy of science

PhD course

Philosophy of science is understood as the systematic study of scientific knowledge and scientific activity. This course focuses on those aspects of philosophy of science that concern the social sciences.

  • About the course

  • Application and admission

    Admission requirement: A master’s degree (120 ECTS) or equivalent.

    This course is primarily meant for students enrolled in a Ph.D. program. If the course leader has the capacity to take on additional students, other applicants whose educational background (Master’s degree or equivalent) is deemed relevant will be considered for admission.

    Applicants apply via SøknadsWeb (fsweb.no). Application deadline: March 1st, 2023.

  • Spring 2023

    Course-dates and location: 

    • 20.04.2023 – P46 PA314
    • 21.04.2023 - P46 PA314
    • 04.05.2023 - P46 PA314
    • 05.04.2023 - P46 PA314
    • 08.06.2023 - P46 PA314
    • 09.06.2023 - P46 PA314

    All classes are held from 10.15 AM until 15.00 PM. Deadline for essay submission: 09.07.2023.

  • Curriculum

    Total number of pages: 706.

    • Barnes, B. (1984). “On the Conventional Component in Knowledge and Cognition”, i N. Stehr & V. Meja (red):  Society and Knowledge, New York: Transaction Books, s. 185-208 (23 sider).
    • Broom J. (1999). “Utility”.  Ethics out of Economics. Cambridge University Press, s. 19-28 (9 sider).
    • Cartwright, N. (2009). “What is This Thing Called “Efficacy”?” I C. Mantzavinos, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press, s. 185-206 (s. 21).
    • Coleman, J. (1987). “Microfoundations and Macrosocial Behavior”, Alexander, J.C. et al.:  The Micro-Macro Link. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press, s. 153-173 (20 sider).
    • Davidson, D. (1980). “Action, Reasons and Causes”, I Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford University press, s. 3-19 (16 sider).
    • Douglas, H. (2011). “Facts, Values and Objectivity”. I I.C Jarvie & J. Zamora-Bonilla (red.)  The Sage Handbook of The Philosophy of Social Sciences, s. 513-529 (s. 16).
    • Elster. J (1983). “Functional Explanation”, I “Explaining Technical Change”, Cambridge University Press, s. 403-414 (11 sider).
    • Elster, J. (1983). “Rationality”.  Sour Grapes. Studies in the Subversion of Rationality. Cambridge University Press, s. 1-42 (s. 41).
    • Fabienne P. & Spiekerman, K. (2011) “Rules, Norms, Commitments”. I I.C Jarvie & J. Zamora-Bonilla (red.) The Sage Handbook of The Philosophy of Social Sciences, s. 217- 239 (s. 22).
    • Føllesdal, D. (1979). “Hermeneutics and the Hypothetico-Deductive Method”, Dialectica, vol. 33, s. 319-336 (17 sider).
    • Føllesdal, D. (1982). “The Status of Rationality Assumptions in Interpretation and the Explanation of Action”, Dissalectica , vol. 33, s. 301-316 (15 sider).
    • Hacking, I. (1999). “Why ask what?”  The Social Construction of What?  Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, s. 1-34 (31 sider).
    • Haslanger, S. (2012). “Social Construction: Myth and Reality”.  Resisting Reality. Social Construction and Social Critique. New York: Oxford University Press, s. 183-218 (s. 35).
    • Hedström, P. og Ylikoski, P. (2010). “Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences”.  The Annual Review of Sociology , s. 49-67 (s. 18).
    • Hempel, C. (1994). “The Function of General Laws in History”. I M. Martin og L.C. McIntyre (red.), Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, s. 43-54 (11 sider).
    • Horowitz, A. (2012). Social Constructions of Mental Illness. I H. Kincaid (red.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science, Oxford University Press, s. 559-578 (s. 19).
    • Kincaid, H. (1986): “Reduction, Explanation and Individualism”, Philosophy of Science, vol. 53, s. 492-513 (s. 21).
    • Kincaid. H. (1994). “Assessing Functional Explanations in the Social Sciences”. I M. Martin og L.C. McIntyre (red.), Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, s. 415-428 (s. 13).
    • Kuhn, T. (1996). “Vitenskapelige revolusjoners vesen og nødvendighet».  Vitenskapelige revolusjoners struktur, Spartacus forlag AS, s. 96-113 (s. 17).
    • Kögler, H. H. (2012). “Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, and Ethnomethodology”. I I. C Jarvie & J. Zamora-Bonilla (red.)  The Sage Handbook of The Philosophy of Social Sciences, s. 445- 462 (s. 17).
    • Longino, H. E. (1998). “Values and Objectivity”. I M. Curd & J. A. Cover, Philosophy of Science. The Central Issues, New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company, s. 170- 191 (s. 21).
    • Lucas, Jeffrey W. (2003). “Theory-Testing, Generalization, and the Problem of External Validity”, Sociological Theory 21:3, 236-253 (s. 17).
    • Merton, R. (1968). “Manifest and Latent Functions”.  Social Theory and Social Structure, s. 73-138 (s. 65).
    • Mitchell, S. (2009). “Complexity and Explanation in the Social Sciences”. I C. Mantzavinos, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press, s. 130- 145 (s. 15).
    • Popper, Karl (1998). “Science: Conjectures and Refutations”. I M. Curd & J. A. Cover, Philosophy of Science. The Central Issues, New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company, s. 3-10 (s. 7).
    • Reiss, J. (2006).  “Do We Need Mechanisms in the Social Sciences?”  Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37(2), s. 163-184 (s. 21).
    • Resnik David B. (2013). “Research Ethics”. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
    • Resnik David B. & Elliot Kevin C. (2015). «The Ethical Challenges of Socially Responsible Science”, Accountability in Research, 23:1, 31-46.
    • Rosenberg, A. (2008). “What is the Philosophy of Social Science?”  Philosophy of Social Science, Westview Press, s. 1-29 (s. 28).
    • Sen, Amartya. (1977). “Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 4, s. 317-344.
    • Taylor, C. (2001).  “Fortolkning I humanvitenskapene”, i S. Lægreid og T. Skorgen (red): Hermeneutisk lesebok, Oslo: Spartacus, s. 239-287 (s. 48).
    • Van Bouwel, J. & Weber, E. (2012). “Explanation in the Social Sciences”. I I. C Jarvie & J. Zamora-Bonilla (red.)  The Sage Handbook of The Philosophy of Social Sciences, s. 632- 646 (s. 14).
    • Watkins. J. W. N (1957). “Historical Explanation in the Social Sciences”, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, vol. 8, s. 441-450 (s. 9).
    • Weber, M. (1999). “Objectivity”. I Martin, M., McIntyre, L. C. (eds.):  Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, s. 43-54 (s. 11).
    • Winch, P. (1964). “Understanding a Primitive Society”.  American Philosophical Quarterly 1(4), s. 307-324 (s. 17).
  • Course content

    This course is taught using lectures and discussion. Students will be given questions to discuss in groups.

    First meeting. Day 1.

    What is philosophy of science?

    Scientific reasoning, deduction, and axiomatic method, HDM, induction, inference to the best explanation, Bayesianism, falsificationsim, logical positivism, the Quine-Duhem thesis, Kuhn’s concept of paradigm, scientific objectivity, science and values.

    Literature:

    • Douglas, Heather: “Facts, Values and Objectivity.”
    • Longino, Helen: “Values and Objectivity”.
    • Kuhn, Thomas: “Vitenskapelige revolusjoners vesen og nødvendighet”.
    • Popper, Karl: “Science: Conjectures and Refutations”.
    • Rosenberg, Alexander: “Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Science”.
    • Weber, Max: “Objectivity”.

    First meeting. Day 2.

    Explanation, laws, and mechanisms.

    Regularity theories of causation, ceteris paribus laws, D-N explanation, I-S explanation, causality as contrafactual dependency, mechanisms and processes, manipulation and invariance, causal capacities, experiments and evidence.

    Literature:

    • Cartwright, Nancy: “What is This Thing Called “Efficacy?””
    • Hedström, Peter & Ylikoski, Petri: “Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences”.
    • Hempel, Carl: “The Function of General Laws in History”.
    • Lucas, Jeffrey W: “Theory-Testing, Generalization, and the Problem of External Validity”.
    • Mitchell, Sandra: “Complexity and Explanation in the Social Sciences”.
    • Van Bouwel, Jeroen & Weber, Eric: “Explanation in the Social Sciences”.
    • Reiss, Julian: “Do We Need Mechanisms in the Social Sciences?”

    Second meeting. Day 1.

    Holism, reductionism and individualism.

    Functionalist explanations, methodological holism, manifest and latent functions, Elster’s “missing mechanism” argument, the micro-macro problem, strong vs. moderate methodological individualism, supervenience, reductionism in the social sciences.

    Literature: 

    • Coleman, James. S: “Micro-Foundations and Macro-Social Behavior”.
    • Elster, Jon: “Functional Explanation in the Social Sciences”.
    • Kincaid, Harold: “Assessing Functional Explanations in the Social Sciences”.
    • Kincaid, Harold: “Reduction, Explanation and Individualism”.
    • Merton, Robert: “Manifest and Latent Functions”.
    • Watkins, John William: “Historical Explanation in the Social Sciences”.

    Second meeting. Day 2.

    Action, rationality, and social norms.

    Intentional action, reason and causes, rationality and “folk psychology”, expected utility, self-interest and preferences, the theory of rational choice, conventions, social norms, sanctions, game theory, commitments.

    Literature:

    • Broom, John: “Utility”.
    • Elster, Jon: “Rationality”.
    • Fabienne Peter & Spiekerman, Kai: “Rules, Norms, Commitments”. 
    • Davidson, Donald: “Actions, Reasons and Causes”.
    • Sen, Amartya: “Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory”.

    Third meeting. Day 1.

    Understanding, interpretation and meaning.

     Qualitative research methods, meaning and understanding, the hermeneutic circle, the hermeneutic method, reflexivity, relativism and rationality, the principle of charity, rules and practice, SSSM and naturalism.

    Literature:

    • Føllesdal, Dagfinn: “Hermeneutics and the Hypothetico-Deductive Method”.
    • Føllesdal, Dagfinn: “The Status of Rationality Assumptions in the Interpretation and the Explanation of Action.”
    • Kögler, Hans-Herbert: “Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, and Ethnomethodology”.
    • Taylor, Charles: “Fortolkning i humanvitenskapene”.
    • Winch, Peter: “Understanding a Primitive Society”.
    • Tooby, John & Cosmides, Lea: “The Psychological Foundations of Culture”.

    Third meeting. Day 2.

    Social constructivism.

     Weak and strong constructivism, interactive categories and “looping effects”, natural and social kinds, conventions and conceptual systems, objectivism, anti-realism, race, gender, disease.

    Literature:

    • Barnes, Barry: “On the Conventional Component in Knowledge and Cognition”.
    • Hacking, Ian: “Why ask what?”
    • Haslanger, Sally: “Social Construction: Myth and Reality”.
    • Horowitz, Alan: “Social Constructions of Mental Illness”
  • Course certificate

    Participants that have successfully completed the course can order a transcript of records either via StudentWeb (fsweb.no) or Vitnemålsportalen (vitnemålsportalen.no).

    You can find more information about transcript of records and diplomas at the OsloMet student websites.

  • Contact information

    Please direct all questions to kurs-sps@oslomet.no

    Course leader: Edmund Henden