195.080 Philosophy of Science
Diese Lehrveranstaltung ist in allen zugeordneten Curricula Teil der STEOP.
Diese Lehrveranstaltung ist in mindestens einem zugeordneten Curriculum Teil der STEOP.

2017S, VU, 2.0h, 3.0EC


  • Semesterwochenstunden: 2.0
  • ECTS: 3.0
  • Typ: VU Vorlesung mit Übung

Ziele der Lehrveranstaltung

The lecturer of this course will be Prof. Christiane Floyd.


The objectives are

  • to characterize modern science as a specific way of human knowing,

  • to present philosophical positions on human knowing,

  • to sketch the emergence and mainstream discussion in philosophy of science,

  • to introduce key critical schools of thought,

  • to locate and reflect on computing within the scientific landscape.

The term "computing" is used here as an encompassing notion. It refers to academic disciplines like "informatics", "computer science", and so on, whose names and definitions vary from one country to another. It also denotes the practice of developing computational artifacts at the levels of hardware and software in both research and application.

Three aspects of computing are of particular interest:

  • Computational intelligence: the computer as agent,

  • Developing computational artifacts: the practice of programming,

  • Using computational artifacts: IT systems in human contexts.


Inhalt der Lehrveranstaltung

The lecturer of this course will be Prof. Christiane Floyd.

In this course, students should acquire an understanding for basic issues in philosophy of science and become aware how they relate to the computing field. In view of the heterogeneous background of the candidates, no assumptions on previous education in philosophy are made.

Weitere Informationen

This is a Fundamental PhD Course of the Faculty of Informatics for doctoral and master students. 

Doctoral students in Computer Science have admission priority to this course.


Wednesday, 1             Introduction
About this course: Topic, outline, schedule, literature, required work
Getting to know the students
Origin of modern science: Influences from Europe and other cultures
On science and philosophy: The emergence of Philosophy of Science
Introducing the articles for presentation

Friday, 3                      Perspectives on Computing
Three aspects of computing: Computational intelligence, developing computational artifacts, using computational artifacts. Epistemological, ontological  and axiological questions.
The students¿ perspectives on computing
Selecting the articles for presentation

Monday, 6                   Basic Positions on Human Knowing
Rationalism (Descartes, Leibniz) vs. Empiricism (Locke, Hume); the need for method
Classroom Discussion: Rationalism and empiricism in programming methodology
Critical epistemology (Kant): a glimpse at the Critique of Pure Reason

Wednesday, 8             Knowing, Thought and Language
Tractatus logico-philosophicus (Wittgenstein I), representational thought
Logical positivism (Vienna Circle), Language Games (Wittgenstein II)
Student presentation 1: Towards a Mathematical Science of Computation (McCarthy)

Friday, 10                    Knowing and Acting
Pragmatism (Peirce, Dewey, James); truth vs. utility; Correspondence => coherence; the responsibility of knowing;Tacit Knowledge (Polanyi); action and reflection (Schön)
Student presentation 2: Intuition in Software Development (Naur)

Monday, 13                 Knowing, Subjectivity and Context
Hermeneutics: the hermeneutic circle, knowing and being in the world, interpretive research
Dialectics: perspectivity and interest, knowing and contradictions, critical research
Student presentation 3: Program Development as a social activity (Nygaard)

Wednesday, 15            Knowledge Building and Learning
Cybernetics and Constructivism; Knowledge projects and reality construction;
Levels of Learning (Bateson), learning in organizations (Schön, Argyris),
Student presentation 4: People and Methodologies ... - The Approach (Cockburn)

Friday, 17                    What constitutes science
Natural and social sciences: the observer-problem, rigor and relevance in research
Critical rationalism (Popper): discovery and justification of scientific insights; falsificationism
Classroom Discussion on philosophical problems related to dissertations

Monday, 20                 Social Processes in Science
Thought styles and thought collectives (Fleck)
Formal Proofs and Social Processes (Lakatos)
Student presentation 5: Social Processes and Proofs ... (De Millo, Lipton, Perlis)

Wednesday, 22            Science and Paradigms
The progress of scientific knowing (Kuhn): normal science and scientific revolutions; paradigms and paradigm shifts. Example: Paradigm Change in Software Engineering.
Student presentation 6: Computing Machines and Intelligence (Turing)
Student presentation 7: A paradigm shift in Artificial Intelligence... (Dautenhahn)

Friday, 24                    Design of computational artifacts
What is design? form and context; artifacts; Design science (Simon) and art
The ethics of design
Student presentation 8: Heidegger and the design of computing systems (Winograd)
Student presentation 9: Reflections on a ... design project (Blomberg, Suchman, Trigg)

Monday, 27                 Computational Media
As we may think (Vannevar Bush): an alternative paradigm, approaches to understanding media, key innovations towards computational media, what makes media 'new'
Student presentation 10: What is New Media (Manovich)

Wednesday, 29
Closing session


Presentations, discussions and short papers

  • The topics for presentations are matched with the topics taught in class.
  • The presentations will cover one article or book chapter relating philosophical questions to issues of computing.
  • Your 10-15 minutes presentation will be embedded in the lecture on your topic.
  • After the presentation you will lead a discussion.
  • For the short paper, you have to briefly review your article or book chapter, contextualize it, and quote at least one background paper.

 Seminar papers

The topics of the seminar papers will be decided in an individual session at the end of the course. For the seminar paper you will have to read more background literature and relate computing issues in your field of work to philosophy of science.
Typically you will either choose one school of thought and relate it to your research topic, or reflect on the epistemological ontological and axiological questions involved in your dissertation research.

The seminar papers will be written after the course and submitted at the end of May.






LVA Termine

Mi.10:00 - 12:0001.03.2017Seminarraum 127 Philosophy of Science
Fr.10:00 - 12:0003.03.2017Seminarraum 384 Philosophy of Science
Mo.10:00 - 12:0006.03.2017 - 27.03.2017Seminarraum 127 Philosophy of Science
Mi.10:00 - 12:0008.03.2017 - 29.03.2017 Favoritenstraße 9-11, Ground floor, Room: von NeumannPhilosophy of Science
Fr.10:00 - 12:0010.03.2017 - 24.03.2017Seminarraum 384 Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of Science - Einzeltermine
Mi.01.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 127 Philosophy of Science
Fr.03.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 384 Philosophy of Science
Mo.06.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 127 Philosophy of Science
Mi.08.03.201710:00 - 12:00 Favoritenstraße 9-11, Ground floor, Room: von NeumannPhilosophy of Science
Fr.10.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 384 Philosophy of Science
Mo.13.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 127 Philosophy of Science
Mi.15.03.201710:00 - 12:00 Favoritenstraße 9-11, Ground floor, Room: von NeumannPhilosophy of Science
Fr.17.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 384 Philosophy of Science
Mo.20.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 127 Philosophy of Science
Mi.22.03.201710:00 - 12:00 Favoritenstraße 9-11, Ground floor, Room: von NeumannPhilosophy of Science
Fr.24.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 384 Philosophy of Science
Mo.27.03.201710:00 - 12:00Seminarraum 127 Philosophy of Science
Mi.29.03.201710:00 - 12:00 Favoritenstraße 9-11, Ground floor, Room: von NeumannPhilosophy of Science



To successfully pass the course, students have to

  1. submit a position paper on philosophical questions related to their dissertation
  2. participate in the classroom discussion on these philosophical questions
  3. alone or cooperating in pairs, give a presentation, lead a discussion, and write a short paper on an article relating computing problems to philosophical positions in one of the lectures,
  4. write a seminar paper on philosophical questions related to their dissertation, based on assignments 1 and 3 and referring to at least one philosophical school.

Assignments 1 to 3 will not be graded.

Grades will be based on the seminar papers.


Von Bis Abmeldung bis
19.01.2017 00:00 01.03.2017 23:59


Please register in TISS.



Es wird kein Skriptum zur Lehrveranstaltung angeboten.

Weitere Informationen

  • Anwesenheitspflicht!