Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Science explores questions about the nature and practice of science. Some approaches pay close attention to the practices of scientists working on particular problems, while others aim at a philosophical understanding of the nature of science as a whole.

A strand of DNA

One set of core issues concerns the aims and methods of science. Science is typically thought of as our most developed form of enquiry into the empirical world. Is this true? Do scientific theories provide an accurate description of a mind-independent reality? Or are theories merely tools for making reliable predictions about the future course of experience? How do we decide which scientific theories to adopt? Is there a general method that scientists all follow, perhaps one that makes scientific enquiry importantly distinct from other forms of enquiry, such as history or philosophy?

Philosophy of science also explores questions that arise within particular scientific areas, such as physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, or that inform particular philosophical areas, such as metaphysics and philosophy of mind. Some of the questions explored in the metaphysics of physics, for example, concerns what kind of account we should give of laws and chances. Are laws and chances temporally asymmetric? Or should we seek some other kind of origin for temporal asymmetries in nature? There are similarly philosophical questions to explore in the foundations of biology, psychology, and much else.

People in the Department of Philosophy who work in this area include:


Jonas Raab

John Divers

Alison Fernandes

Emma Otterski