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Major in Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of science is a field that concerns the nature of science in general, and of individual branches of science. This includes identifying what distinguishes good science from bad; assessing and evaluating forms of scientific reasoning, and the conditions under which they are most reliable; exploring what makes scientific activity distinctive; how theories effectively explain the world, how they are confirmed or supported, and the relation between theory, evidence, and scientific practice; how scientists shift from one set of commitments to another; and the moral dilemmas and social implications of science, among other philosophical issues around science. Philosophers of science identify the core commitments of scientists and particular branches of science; participate in the conceptual debates in the sciences; act as science critics to help identify good from bad science; and consider how our best science bears on long-standing philosophical problems. The best philosophy of science is well-informed by the sciences, and often done alongside and in collaboration with scientists.

This major is designed to provide students with a technical grounding in a scientific or social science discipline of their choosing; core knowledge in ethical, analytical, and logical reasoning; and highly developed verbal and writing skills. Specialized tracks provide options for students that include focused studies in ethical and social implications of science, logical and formal reasoning, etc. Philosophy of science majors will be highly competitive for spots in elite graduate and professional programs, or positions in complex and technical industries.

Why major in Philosophy of Science?

Students who major in philosophy of science are going to be passionate about science or the social sciences, and looking for a genuinely interdisciplinary major to explore that passion.  This is a major that does more than provide content across disciplines, it draws on a multitude of disciplines that intersect students' interests around a theme.  This encourages innovative, creative, and critical thinking about scientific and philosophical issues.

Practically speaking, many (if not most) philosophy of science majors will also be STEM or social science majors.  We designed the major around Gen Ed pathways, helping STEM and social science majors complete their degrees efficiently.  This is a great way to enhance your science or social science major, and to give you an edge when applying for jobs, graduate schools, or professional programs.  Philosophy majors score at or near the top of most graduate entrance exams, and we expect philosophy of science majors will do even better.  Adding a philosophy of science major to a STEM degree will set you apart, and train you in the skills that will help you advance your career.

Course Requirements

Philosophy of Science (default track)
Area Minimum # of Classes Eligible Courses
Philosophy of Science (core)
(PHIL 3350 is required)
2 PHIL 3350 History & Philosophy of Science (CW) (required)
PHIL 3310 Science & Society (HF)
PHIL 3370 Philosophy of Biology (CW)
PHIL 3375 Philosophy of Social Science
PHIL 3440 Cognitive Science (HF)
PHIL 3380 Feminist Philosophy of Science (CW,DV)
PHIL 4380 Philosophy of Physics
Philosophy of Science (capstone) 1 PHIL 5350 Topics in Philosophy of Science
PHIL 5370 Topics in Philosophy of Biology
PHIL 5375 Topics in Philosophy of Social Science
PHIL 5192 Philosophy of _____ (by permission only)
Logic & Formal Methods (One inductive and one deductive) 2 PHIL 3200 Deductive Logic (QB,QI)
PHIL 3210 Inductive Logic (QB,QI)
PHIL 5200 Advanced Deductive Logic (QB,QI)
PHIL 5210 Advanced Inductive Logic
PHIL 5220 Rational Choice Theory
Ethics 1 PHIL 3520 Bioethics (HF)
PHIL 3530 Environmental Ethics (HF)
PHIL 3570 Research Ethics
PHIL 4540 Engineering Ethics
PHIL 5520 Advanced Bioethics
PHIL 5530 Environmental Philosophy
History of Philosophy 1 Any course satisfying PHIL’s Area III History of Philosophy requirement will satisfy this requirement.
Elective 1 Any of the courses listed above, plus those designated as approved electives (see below).
Minimum Required Philosophy Courses 8* *Must total at least 24 credits, otherwise additional eligible courses are required to raise total to 24 credits.
Minimum Required Science Courses 3**

The Science requirement may be met either by (a) majoring in an approved science or social science; or (b) taking a designated number of upper-division courses in a single scientific or social science discipline (option (b) includes specific disciplinary requirements and constraints as detailed in Appendix B, and typically requires at least 3 or 4 courses in a single discipline).

**Coursework must total at least 9 credits, otherwise additional eligible courses are required to raise total to 9 credits.

Minimum Required Philosophy of Science Courses to Complete the Major 11 Students must satisfy both the Philosophy and the Science requirements.

History and Elective Course Options

PHIL 3013  Philosophy of _________
PHIL 3040  20th Century Analytic Philosophy
PHIL 3060  20th Century Continental Philosophy
PHIL 3100  Survey of Ancient Greek Philosophy
PHIL 3110  Survey of Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 3120  Survey of Early Modern Philosophy
PHIL 3130  Survey of 19th Century Philosophy
PHIL 3810  Existentialism
PHIL 3850  History of African American Philosophy
PHIL 3860  History of Latin American Philosophy
PHIL 4140  Classical Chinese Philosophy
PHIL 5040  Advanced 20th Century Analytic
PHIL 5060  Advanced 20th Century Contintental
PHIL 5100  Advanced Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 5110  Advanced Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 5120  Advanced Early Modern Philosophy
PHIL 5145  Topics in Classical Chinese Philosophy
PHIL 5193  Philosophy of  ____________
PHIL 5360 Topics in the History of Science

ANTH 3134   Language, Thought, and Culture: The Anthropology of the Human Mind (BF)
ANTH 3283   Sex & Gender (DV)
ANTH 3245   Human Migration and Social Change (IR)
ANTH 3481   Evolutionary Psychology
COMM 3115  Communicating Sccience, Health, and Environment
COMM 4360  Consuming Earth
COMM 5360  Environmental Communication
COMM 5365  Communicating Climate Change
ECON 3100    Labor Economics (QI)
ECON 3200    Money & Banking (QI)
ECON 3500    International Economics (QI, IR)
ENGL 3080    Studies in Environmental Literature (HF)
ENGL 5760    Studies in Victorian Literature (with pre-approval &  permission only)
ENGL 5920    Intellectual Movements (with pre-approval & permission only)
HIST 4075      Introduction to the HIstory of Science
HIST 4080     History of Medicine in Western Society (IR, HF)
HIST 4085     History of Technology
HIST 4270     Empire & Exploration (with pre-approval & permission only)
LING 3300     Computers & Language
LING 4160     Language & Cognition (HF)
LING 4170     Biolinguistics
WRTG 3014   Writing in the Sciences (CW)
WRTG 3705   Rhetoric, Science, and Technology Studies (BF, HF)

Environmental & Sustainability Studies
Geology & Geophysics

(This is not an exhaustive list. To discuss a major not listed here contact the departmental advisor.)

See the courses list. It is located on the undergraduate tab

Students interested in becoming philosophy of science majors should meet with our advisor, Connie Corbett.  There is no special admissions or application procedure.  Just take our classes and sign up!

Transfer Students

The Department of Philosophy is strongly committed to helping transfer students succeed.  If you are interested in transferring into our program from another College or University, the best way to put yourself into a position to succeed is to complete prerequisites for your science and social science courses.  Being able to get into those upper division science and social science classes quickly will ensure you are able to complete your philosophy of science degree in an efficient manner.  The philosophy courses included in our major will help you satisfy a lot of your Gen Ed requirements along the way.

Last Updated: 4/5/22