Philosophy: Shaping Knowledge: An Enquiry into the Philosophy of Science
"Science is the torch which illuminates the world" - Louis Pasteur
At a Glance
- Live online course
- 2 hours a week
- Wednesdays 18:00 - 20:00
- 10 weeks: January to March
- Tutor: Dr Pedro Rubio Teres
- Fees from £125 to £210
- Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
- COURSE NOT OFFERED THIS TERM
This course is not offered this term
In this course we will consider the ways that social scientists think about cause and effect, verification of theories. We will explore the validity of scientific knowledge and the necessary ‘intellectual honesty’ to create resilient theories of knowledge.
Through a novel aesthetic approach to the social acclaim of scientific discovery, we will also understand why some finding receive more popularity than others and therefore find their place in historical and national narratives. To illustrate this, we will look into Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and its glorious E=mc2.
We will later on try to understand how social scientists build their arguments and the dilemmas they face when researching. This section touches upon the construction of a causal explanation of states of affairs and processes that are sometimes resolved by a misleading inductivism. In that sense, the course will extensively evolve around Popper´s ‘criteria of demarcation’ and the different dogmatic and sophisticated visions on falsificationism.
Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.
Part 1: Philosophy of scientific discovery
- Epistemology of scientific knowledge. Evidence and scientific criteria. Field’s mathematical knowledge as the ‘real knowledge’ defined as a given set of axioms.
- The problem of causation in Hume illustrated by the necessary sequence of events verification. Frege’s ‘canonical proofs’ returning to the primitive truths and to Plato’s notion of ‘essence’.
- Lakatos on intellectual honesty or the specification in advance of the conditions under which one is willing to give up one’s position. Dogmatic and Methodological falsificationism.
- Wittgenstein and Schlick on the ‘verification principle’ and the claim on meaningless propositions. Fallacies and logics of language.
- Hanson on scientific conjectures and the aesthetic appeal to scientific discovery. Theory of relativity and the dilemma of the nuclear energy. WWII and the atomic bomb.
Part 2: Philosophy of social sciences
- Hempel and Weber’s ‘ideal types’ to isolate social phenomena and enable the construction of sociological theories.
- Popper on the problem of demarcation, induction and empirical foundation of the social sciences. Falsifiability and the test for making a judgment on the scientific character of scientific statements. Pseudoscience and the case of Marxism.
- Applying philosophy of science to socioeconomic changes. Subsequent political regimes and Lakatos’ progressive “problemshift” leading to sophisticated falsificationism.
- The aesthetics of violent political agency and the parallel to the acclaim of scientific discovery. Simplicity and the sublime.
- Defective governance and different ways of governing. Political organization as a form ‘theoretically progressive’ sequence T1, T2…Tk.
This programme may be subject to change.
There is no compulsory reading required for this course and there is no set course text.
Please ask the tutor if you would like suggestions for reading.
Pedro Teres has an academic and professional background in Mathematical Sciences, although he has been engaged with Social Politics and International Relations for the past ten years. This combination has provided him with a deep understanding on the social impact of scientific discovery and the logic challenges of socio-political discourse. He teaches Political Science and related subjects at Imperial and other universities in London and has conducted extensive fieldwork in armed conflicts, namely in former Soviet countries and the Middle East. He has participated in several initiatives with the European Parliament and the UNHRC among other intergovernmental institutions and works closely with civil society movements as a passionate political activist.
Course Delivery Method: Live Online (Zoom)
All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.
All times stated are British Standard Time.
To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.
This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.
Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.
We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.
Course Fees and Rate Categories
|Hours||Weeks||Standard Rate||Internal Rate||Associate Rate|
|20||10|| £210 (≡£10.50 per hour)
||£125 (≡£6.25 per hour)||£165 (≡£8.25 per hour)|
|All fee rates quoted and due are for the whole course. Part-payments are not possible. Equivalent to hourly rate is for comparison guidance only. There is no early-bird discount for January intake courses.|
Rate Categories and Discounts
- Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.
- Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
- Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
- Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
- Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact email@example.com before completing the online enrolment form
- Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
- Austrian Cultural Forum staff
- City & Guilds College Association members
- Cooperative College Members
- Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
- Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
- Harrods staff
- Historic Royal Palaces staff
- Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
- Members of the Friends of Imperial College
- Members of the Kennel Club
- Members of the London Zoological Society
- Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
- Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- Natural History Museum staff
- National Health Service (NHS) employees
- Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
- Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
- Royal Geographical Society staff
- Science Museum staff
- Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
- Students (non-Imperial College)
- Teachers and other staff of UK schools
- Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
- Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
- Victoria and Albert Museum staff
It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.
Applicable terms & conditions
Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.
|Hours||Weeks||Autumn term||Spring term||Summer term||Summer School|
|20||10||n/a||w/c 17 Jan - w/e 26 Mar 2022 (10 weeks)*||n/a||n/a|
|* This is a one-term course|
Web enrolment starts 5 November 2021
Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:
- Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
- First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
- The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
- The following email notifications are sent:
|What is sent||When is it sent||What does it contain|
|1. Payment confirmation||Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application||
|2. Enrolment confirmation||Is sent within 10 working days. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received||
|3. Programme information||Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts||
|If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756
- Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the course tutor, Dr Pedro Rubio-Teres at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator, email@example.com
If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.