This module will cover some key questions in contemporary epistemology and metaphysics of science. The epistemological questions will be centered on the notion of scientific explanation: How is explanation different from mere description? Can we give a general account of what explaining a phenomenon consists in? What difference does having an explanation for a phenomenon make to a person? The metaphysical questions we will look at concern mainly the nature of causation and time, and their status within science: To what extent is causation a category recognized by the sciences? What is the difference between causation and mere correlation? What explains the 'arrow of time'? Can there be a scientific explanation of asymmetries in time?
The following is a list of topics for this module in the 2015/16 academic year; precise seminar content may change from year to year.
- Scientific Explanation – The DN model
- Laws of Nature
- Causation: Causal process vs. difference-making approaches
- Causation and Probability
- The nature of probability
- Causation, Agency and the Arrow of Causation
- The thermodynamic arrow
- The Nature of Time
- Time Travel
Timing and CATS
This module will run in the Autumn Term and is worth 15 CATS.