Richard has taught at the University of Arizona since 1991. He teaches a variety of courses in philosophy of science, including philosophy of biology and physics. For descriptions of courses Prof. Healey regularly teaches, click the links on the left.

introduction to philosophy of science

Course Description.

Science is generally held in high esteem these days, but why? What's so special about science? Apart from the benefits (and costs!) flowing from its applications, science is valued for the knowledge it has generated. But what kind of knowledge is this, and how has it been generated? Is scientific knowledge certain, probable or merely conjectural? Does science have some special method for arriving at or validating its knowledge claims? And what exactly are the products of scientific knowledge: facts, laws, theories or what? Science has certainly developed theories that have led to successful predictions and the ability to control natural processes. But do these theories really explain what lies behind our observations, and if so how? Do scientific theories even claim to truly describe aspects of the world we cannot observe? And, come to think of it, which aspects are those, exactly? Science has changed a lot even since the seventeenth century "scientific revolution"-- a change that seems to have led to progress in our understanding of the world. But this "progress" has often involved the rejection of central principles of earlier theories: so how much confidence should we really have in our current theories? These are the kinds of questions we'll ask in this course. To get a better focus on them, and try to answer them, we'll look at the ideas of a number of prominent 20th century philosophers of science, including Popper, Kuhn and van Fraassen.