Introduction to Philosophy of Science

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHL 170

       Course Name: Introduction to Philosophy of Science

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course provides a philosophical analysis of fundamental concepts in science. Focus is on the scientific method, the nature of scientific claims, inductive generalization, statistical probability and the history and development of science.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will be assisted to

  1. Examine and understand fine differences between science and philosophy.
  2. To define philosophy of science and to describe its scope and limitation.
  3. To distinguish fine differences between science as an activity and science as a collection of facts.
  4. To understand three major concepts used to describe the power and limitations of science.
  5. To understand elementary methodological differences between the natural and behavioral sciences.
  6. To provide at least two historically different notions of concepts selected from cause, prediction, motion, event, induction generalization, statistical probability, space-time continuum, and the development of scientific ideas.  Other concepts may also be included.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Science, Common Sense and Philosophy
    1. definition
    2. methodology
      1. discovery
      2. prediction
      3. confirmation
    3. Philosophy the parent science
    4. the types of science
  2. The Development of Scientific Ideas
    1. evolutionary - normal science
    2. revolutionary - extra- ordinary science
    3. science - a very human enterprise
  3. The Nature of Scientific Ideas
    1. explanation
    2. theories
    3. laws
  4. The use of Scientific Ideas
    1. explanation
    2. prediction
    3. applied science
  5. Causality and Necessity
    1. traditional concepts
    2. principle of uncertainty
  6. Natural Science
    1. motion
    2. event
    3. space - time continuum
  7. Differences from Natural Science
    1. behavioral science
    2. uses of scientific ideas in the behavioral sciences
  8. The Limitations of Science
    1. science's certainty
    2. science's uncertainty

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Assigned readings
Written/oral assignments
Oral questioning and answering

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

  1. Reading
  2. Writing (one major paper: 5-7 pages & four response papers: 2-4 pages each)
  3. Oral presentations

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Textbook (example: J. Mannvia, What is Science?  An Introduction to the Methodology and Structure of Science or A.C. MICHALOS, Philosophical Problems of Science & Technology).
Research books: available in library
Special readings handed out in class
Visual materials
Selected materials put on reserve

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Announced tests: midterm and final
Written or oral presentations
Unannounced quizzes
Reaction papers

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance: assigned teacher to determine
Plagiarism/cheating (refer to catalog)
Class policy on make-up exams, incomplete grade, late assignments, etc. - Assigned Teacher to determine

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.