Philosophy of Science Survey

PHIL 2160. Section 100. Ohio University, Spring 2021.

Lectures on Microsoft Teams, MW 4:35–5:55pm (EST).
Instructor: Dr. Yoichi Ishida.
For office hours, click the menu on the left.

Course Description

Scientific views of the world change over the course of history, often in radical ways. In this course, we study basic philosophical ideas about science and use them to understand some of the most important and radical changes in Western science and their implications.

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the philosophical ideas about science discussed in the readings.
  2. Describe the historical changes in science discussed in the readings.
  3. Explain evidence and arguments for and against various scientific views discussed in the readings.
  4. Explain philosophical questions raised by the history of science.

Technology Requirements

This course is offered online through this website, Blackboard, Microsoft Teams, and Top Hat. To be successful, you will need to have reliable internet and a computer with audio and video capabilities. You will also need to have Microsoft Word (or equivalent) to do assignments.


You will have to purchase a textbook on Perusall to complete reading assignments. The textbook costs $30, but Perusall itself is a free service. The course code will be sent by email. Below is the print edition of the textbook:

Richard DeWitt. Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science. 3rd edition. Wiley Blackwell, 2018.

Again, you should buy the textbook on Perusall.

Course Policies

Assignments and Final Grade

The assignments listed in Table 1 below are required in this course, and your final grade will be calculated according to Table 2.

AssignmentsDue DatesWeights
Attendance in LecturesEvery class starting Week 315%
In-class QuizzesEvery week starting Week 315%
AnnotationsEvery reading assignment15%
Exam 1By the end of Week 510%
Exam 2By the end of Week 910%
Exam 3By the end of Week 1315%
Final Exam (Cumulative)By the end of Friday, April 3020%
Table 1: The assignments and their due dates in this course. Weights are percentages of the final grade.

In-class Quizzes: In-class quizzes will be given on Top Hat. There will be at least one quiz each week starting Week 3. Three (3) lowest quiz scores will be dropped (see Course Policies).

Annotations: For each reading assignment, excluding the readings for the writing workshops, you will make annotations on the social annotation platform Perusall. You can start a new annotation thread in Perusall by highlighting text, asking a question, or posting a comment. You can also add a reply or comment to an existing thread. Each thread is like a chat with one or more members of your class, and it happens in real time. For full credit, you are to make at least two (2) substantive annotations per assignment. A substantive annotation demonstrates your understanding of the text and clearly describes your own thoughts or questions on a specific part of an assigned reading. You can also comment on other students’ annotations, and high commentary activities will be counted favorably toward your final grade (see below).

Exams: All exams will be done out of class. Each exam is a timed test on Blackboard. It is open book, but if you try to look up an answer to every question, you will not have enough time to do it. More exact due dates for Exams 1–3 will be announced as we progress in the course. See Study Guide and Course Policies about these assignments.

A93 or aboveC73–76
C+77–79F59 or below
Table 2: The letter grades and percentages. Your percentage points will be rounded to the nearest one (e.g., 92.5 is rounded up to 93; 89.4 is rounded down to 89).

Although not formalized in these tables, your improvements over the course of the semester and exceptionally good participation in class or commentary on other students’ annotations will count favorably toward your final grade.

Study Guide


You can download an overview of a tentative schedule, but for up-to-date assignments, consult weekly pages below.

Week 1: Introduction

Part I: Fundamental Issues

Week 2: Worldviews, Truth

Week 3: Facts, Reasoning

Week 4: Scientific Method, Induction

Week 5: Falsifiability, Instrumentalism, Realism

Part II: The Transition From the Aristotelian Worldview to the Newtonian Worldview

Week 6: Aristotelian Worldview, Ptolemy’s Almagest

Week 7: Astronomical Data

Week 8: Astronomical Data, Ptolemaic System

Week 9: Copernican System

Week 10: Tychonic System, Kepler’s System

Week 11: Galileo, Problems for the Aristotelian Worldview

Week 12: The New Science, Newtonian Worldview

Part III: Recent Developments in Worldviews

Week 13: Darwinian Worldview

Week 14: Development of the Darwinian Worldview

Final Exam due through Blackboard by the end of Friday, April 30.