98252 - Phylosophy of Science (6 CFU)

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Life on land Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will know the most important and salient elements of the philosophy of science of last two centuries, and especially topics concerning the Philosophy of Biology and Life Sciences. Methods, concepts, principles, and interdisciplinary issues will be debated.

Course contents

This course will focus on some main and basic issues concerning the philosophy of science, with special regard to life sciences. Main topics will be treated from scratch and will be: deductive and inductive knowledge, with special reference to logical questions of the scientific knowledge and to inductive method as well as to development of epistemological principles in modern and contemporary age; the models of scientific explanation; the difference between theoretical positions as conventionalism, verificationism (and the problem of meaning and reliable knowledge), falsificationism; probability and causality; scientific reductionism; scientific realism. The final arguments will concern some aspects of epistemology of biology: the relationship between reductionism and emergence and the question of explanatory pluralism, innate/acquired dichotomy, the discussion about scientific laws in life sciences and some open questions concerning evolutionism. The conclusion will be devoted to such aspects within recent developments of mind studies, as part of biological world, and neuroscience, as boundary research field among biology, psychology and philosophy.


Mandatory textbooks:

- M.C. Galavotti, R. Campaner, Filosofia della scienza, Egea, Milano, 2017.

- A. Borghini, E. Casetta, Filosofia della biologia, Carocci, Roma, 2013.

During the lessons passages are read and expounded from:

- G. Boniolo, M.L. Dalla Chiara, G. Giorello, C. Sinigaglia, S. Tagliagambe, Filosofia della scienza, Raffaello Cortina, Milano, 2002 (Darwin, Hertz, Duhem, Heisemberg, Russell, Schlick, Carnap, Neurath, Popper, Geymonat, Quine, Hempel, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyerabend).

It will be possible establishing different textbooks for foreign students.

Non-attending students additional mandatory textbook:

- G. Boniolo, S. Giaimo (a cura di), Filosofia e scienze della vita, Bruno Mondadori, Milano, 2008.

Further readings will be suggested during the course.

Teaching methods

Lectures. The reading and discussing of (parts of) philosophical-scientific books. Personal or group presentations on a subject agreed with professor will be possible.

Assessment methods

Student will be tested through an oral examination in which s/he will face general subjects of philosophy of science and specific subjects of philosophy of biology and life sciences. The knowledge of the topics of the course and the capability of using them autonomously will be taken into consideration, together with the ability in producing personal remarks on the contents developed during the lessons. If it will be possible, student will require to apply main epistemological concepts to specific experiences of research of other disciplines in which the student has been involved.

More specifically, the achievement of the following targets will have a growing weight:

1) the completeness of the basic knowledge strictly connected to the program;

2) the appropriateness of the specific language;

3) the capability of personally re-using concepts learned during the course;

4) the capability to manage interdisciplinary reflections and argumentations;

5) the capability to apply the subjects to specific research cases and to produce autonomous and original remarks.

1) and 2) are the lowest targets for the pass mark. 3) could give a fair evaluation, the more being so the less the learned knowledge will be mnemonic. 4) is for a good outcome, 5) for an excellent one.

Teaching tools

Slides and further teaching equipment will be provided during the course.

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Bianchini