This course is co-taught with Marcel Weber.

Philosophers of science are puzzled by the fact that, according to a robust scientific consensus, everything (material) consists of the same kind of matter subject to the same physical laws, yet there exist numerous successful sciences with their own principles that appear to be independent of fundamental physics, such as biology, psychology, economics, etc. Even some areas of chemistry, condensed matter physics and thermodynamics have resisted a complete reduction to fundamental physics. In what sense, then, is physics fundamental? And how can we explain the autonomy or the sheer existence of the “special sciences”? This seminar will approach these questions from two different angles, namely the philosophy of physics and (mainly) the philosophy of biology.

Important information: Due to the European Philosophy of Science Association meeting in Belgrade, this seminar will begin on 27 September. Students are expected to read the article by Oppenheim and Putnam (see below) for the first meeting. This article as well as the other seminar readings are available on Moodle.

Recommended Texts

Mandatory readings:

  • All reading materials are available through Moodle.

Course Requirements

If this seminar is taken for credit, please let us know. For credit in philosophy you will have to fulfil requirements, depending on the module for which you are taking this course:

MA2, demi-module 2a:
- Evaluation: examen écrit de 4h portant sur le contenu du CR ou du SE.
MA5, demi-module 5a:
- Evaluation: examen écrit de 4h portant sur le contenu du CR ou du SE.

Contact us if you need credit in another programme.

Schedule (Fall 2023)

This is the schedule for the seminar. It is subject to adjustment.

Date Reading(s) Presenter
20.09. No seminar (EPSA23 in Belgrade)
27.09. Oppenheim and Putnam (1958) Marcel Weber, Christian Wüthrich
04.10. Nagel (1961) Marija
11.10. Fodor (1974) Lucie
18.10. Kitcher (1984) Eliot
25.10. Waters (2008) Marc
01.11. Kim (2007) Alex
08.11. No seminar (semaine de lecture)
15.11. Hoefer (2003) Marta
22.11. Ladyman and Ross (2007) Tim
29.11. Loewer (2008, 2009) Charlotte
06.12. Ney (2020) Alyssa
13.12. Hüttemann and Love (2011) Niels
20.12. Batterman (2018) Ryan