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.

Phil 160 D3: science and inquiry

Course Description

Modern science has had profound effects on our civilization. A moment's thought will reveal applications of science that have transformed our way of life in countless ways. But aside from its practical benefits (and costs!), science has had an equally profound intellectual impact. An educated man or woman early in the twenty-first century has a vastly different view of the world, and of the power of science to reveal that world, from the views of Aristotle, Dante or even of Newton. This transformation has been brought about in large part by the development of scientific thought. And the process continues today, as we struggle to assimilate the deeper significance of recent and contemporary scientific findings for our view of the world and our place in it. In this course we shall examine the distinctive features of scientific inquiry. We shall aim to understand the power and also the limitations of scientific methods. Our approach will be broadly historical, but our main concerns will be philosophical. We shall examine several key episodes from the history of science and use them as case studies in our attempt to comprehend the character and development of scientific methods of inquiry. While these case studies are interesting in themselves, this is not primarily a course in science or its history. Technical scientific material will be kept to a minimum, there are no scientific (or other) prerequisites, and students will need to develop only a general understanding of relevant scientific concepts, not the ability to apply these in novel ways to specific examples.