27984 - Philosophy of Science (LM)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Philosophy of science analyzes scientific knowledge, its aims and conceptual foundations. Main topics of concern for philosophers of science are: the nature, use and role of scientific laws and theories, the structure of explanation, prediction and various forms of scientific inference in the costruction of scientific knowledge. The course gets the student familiar with the most vividly debated issues in contemporary philosophy of science, on the basis of the msot recent literature.

Course contents

The course will deal in the first part with scientific theories, in the second part with scientific models. In the first part the course will present and discuss the main views in the scientific realism/anti-realism debate. Among the topics addressed: forms of empiricism; observable and theoretical entities; the nature and role of scientific theories; scientific progress. The second part of the course will tackle some of the main philosophical approaches to scientific models (models as tools, maps, fictions; explanatory, exploratory models, ...), their assumptions and implications. Both the major general philosophical positions in the debate will be considered, and some views directly addressing specific disciplinary fields (e.g. models in economics, in biology, ...) 

The course will start on September 20th and will take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 11-13, Aula E, via Zamboni 34



C. Gabbani, Realismo e antirealismo scientifico, ETS, 2018.

L. Magnani e T. Bortolotti (eds.), Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science, Springer, 2017, Part A.

Further texts for students not attending lectures (neither in presence nor in streaming) :

J. Ladyman, Filosofia della scienza. Un'introduzione, Roma: Carocci, 2007, capp. 5-6-7-8 (pp. 143-265).

A. Gelfert, How to Do Science with Models, Springer, 2016, chs. 1, 2, 4, 5.



Teaching methods

The course will consist in a series of lectures, plus large discussions of the contents presented in the course. Lectures will introduce the debates on realism/anti-realism and on models, and will encourage critical reflections. The active participation to the discussion will be strongly encouraged; discussion groups will take place, starting from readings and key-questions provided by the lecturer.

Assessment methods

The examination is an oral test on the topics addressed in the course. The test aims to assess the attainment of the expected learning outcomes, evaluating whether the student has a deep knowledge of the contemporary debates on theories and models, and whether s/he masters the core notions that are required for discussing the main issues.

The student’s capacity of dealing with the vocabulary, the basic notions and the technical terms introduced in the course will be evaluated.

The attainment of a comprehensive and detailed perspective, the acquisition of in-depth knowledge of the relevant texts, an ability to make critical use of the arguments that have been introduced in the course, clear presentation and an appropriate use of technical language will result in excellent grades. The attainment of adequate knowledge of the contents without an autonomous capacity of critical elaboration and a generally correct but not totally flawless use of technical language will result in good grades. The attainment of limited knowledge and/or rote learning of the contents, absence of synthetic and/or analytic capacities and correct use of non-technical language only will result in lower grades. The attainment of very limited and superficial knowledge of the contents and/or inaccurate use of language will allow only the minimum pass grade. Poor knowledge of the contents, seriously inaccurate use of language and a lack of familiarity with the literature discussed in the course will lead to the failure of the examination.

Teaching tools

Power point slides will be used during lectures.

Further materials (papers, slides) will be uploaded in the course website.

Office hours

See the website of Raffaella Campaner