The course builds on the introductory course ‘Philosophy of Science I’. It offers a closer look at some selected topics that play an important role in contemporary philosophy of science.

One focus of the course is Bayesian confirmation theory. The probabilistic framework is introduced, some problems and limitations of the approach are addressed and a number of applications of Bayesian confirmation are presented.

A second topic is abductive reasoning. Various perspectives on abductive inference are discussed and the relation between abductive reasoning and Bayesian confirmation is analyzed.

We then have a look at the scientific realism debate. Main positions and arguments in the debate are presented and possible connections between the two previous topics and the issue of realism are addressed.

Finally, we look at some specific issues related to the character of scientific reasoning. To what extent does science pursue a reductionist program? To what extent does the endorsement of scientific theories depend on factors beyond the agreement between theoretical prediction and empirical data? Is the principle of theory succession universally valid in science?

The course has the format of a lecture course but includes substantial elements of discussion. Each unit is accompanied by specific literature. The literature should be read by everyone in advance.

Examination:  Credits based on two assignment papers on topics presented in the course (about 3000 words each.)

Mandatory attendance of 50% of all teaching sessions.

Undervisningsspråk vårterminen 2020: engelska

Aktuellt kursschema:
Schema Vetenskapsfilosofi II våren 2020

Lärare: Richard Dawid


  • C. Howson and P. Urbach: Scientific Reasoning – the Bayesian Approach, selected chapters, Open Court 2011.
  • Michael Strevens: Notes on Bayesian Confirmation Theory, selected chapters, online resource 2012.
  • Peter Lipton: Inference to the Best Explanation, selected chapters 4 and 5, Routledge 2004.
  • John Worrall: “Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?”, Dialectica 43:99, 1989.
  • James Ladyman: What is Structural Realism?, SHPSP A29(3):409-424, 1998
  • Kyle Stanford: Refusing the Devil’s Bargain, Phil.Sci. 68P: 1-12, 2001
  • Stathis Psillos: Scientific Realism and the Pessimistic Induction, 63P:306-14, 1996.
  • Nancy Cartwright: How the Laws of Physics Lie, Essay 3, Oxford 1983.
  • Larry Laudan: Progress and its Problems, Chapter 2, California 1977.
  • Philip Kitcher: The Advancement of Science, Chapter 6, 1992.
  • Richard Dawid: String Theory and the Scientific Method, Chapters 1.3-3-2, Cambridge 2013.