|Science and Human Understanding
This course will survey a range of philosophical topics relating to modern science. Topic 1: Science and Religion. Is there a scientific explanation of our existence? Does the “Fine Tuning” of the laws of physics imply that the universe was designed by a creator to support life? Topic 2: Science and Society. What is the role of science in a democracy? What obligations do scientists have to citizens, and citizens to scientists? Topic 3: The Philosophy of Computer Science. Elon Musk recently said that we probably live in a computer simulation—is he right? What is the “singularity” and how should we prepare for it? What is the ethical status of an artificial intelligence? Topic 4: The Metaphysics of Science. Does science discover a read-made world that exists “out there”, independently of us? When biologists sort organisms into species, are they carving the world “at its natural joints” or do their categories more reflect their own way of thinking? Topic 5: The Epistemology of Science. Scientists typically extrapolate from data, making predictions about the future that have not yet been observed. Is there any non-circular argument that their predictions will be reliable? If not, does this mean that science is ultimately based on faith? The course is designed for students across the university; no prior knowledge of philosophy or science is required.