030060 Argumentation (Seselja, Straßer)
Seminar takes place February 5-9, 10-16
Philosophy and science are based on argumentation. Instead of just voicing opinions or stating beliefs, scholars give reasons and provide evidence for their conclusions. Argumentation is key when trying to find a consensus, or at least when identifying the roots of a disagreement. As such, it is central in many areas, from everyday life to political discourse. Needless to say, good argumentative skills are a necessary requirements for successful studies (in essay and thesis writing, for instance). In this course we will survey different facets of argumentation theory. We start off with foundations (argument schemes such as the Toulmin scheme, fallacy theory, types of arguments, etc.) and proceed towards contemporary investigations (e.g.: computational argumentation; Bayesian and probabilistic argumentation; pragma-dialectics; reasoning and biases; etc.). Finally, we will look into practical applications of argumentation, for example, in the context of structured debating as well as in the context of online debates. The reading list will be provided via Moodle at the beginning of the semester.
030101 Science and Values (Baedke, Fischer)
Seminar takes place November 14, 16-18 (introduction), February 5-8, 10-16
Do values play a role in the creation of scientific knowledge? If so, what moral, personal, social, political and cultural values influence science? Do they harm science, by limiting scientific objectivity and rationality? Or do they instead propel science in fruitful ways? Debates about the value-free ideal of science have become widespread in philosophy of science over the last two decades. In these discussions, the distinction between epistemic and non-epistemic values has become a key framework to understand the involvement of values in science. It also highlights that a substantial part of these values is always implicit to scientific practices. What is more, values contribute to how we draw disciplinary boundaries and address complex issues of societal relevance. This ‘block seminar’, first, aims at providing an overview of the classical theories of value judgements in science, such as the Mertonian norms. Second, it focuses on more recent discussions and positions, including feminist epistemology, debates about commercialization in science, epistemic injustice (someone is unfairly judged to not have the knowledge they have), and epistemic diversity (epistemic judgments vary due to different cultural backgrounds) as well as issues like trust and accountability in publishing practices, and the reliability of peer review. Third, participants will develop a critical understanding of the various roles values play in science through the lens of different case studies, like Covid-19 research, climate science, pharmacological research, or race-based science (and scientific racism). The block seminar is open to advanced B.A. students and M.A. students. Depending on the attendees the language of the course will be German and/or English.
030059 Fact-checking of Scientific Claims: a Philosophy of Science Perspective (Seselja)
Seminar takes place November 4, 10-16, December 16, 10-16 and January 27, 10-16
Contemporary social discourse has been flooded by fake news, echo-chambers, epistemic bubbles and other epistemically pernicious processes. Scientifically relevant information has not been spared: from `anti-vaxxers' to climate-change deniers, disinformation has also had an effect on scientifically relevant news. To combat such issues, social media have introduced the practice of `fact-checking'. However, fact-checking of scientific claims can be challenging. To start, neither does the frontier of scientific research typically produce `facts', nor can such claims easily be `checked'. Ongoing inquiry, often pervaded by scientific disagreements and controversies, is characterized by incomplete or conflicting evidence, and hence by a high degree of risk and uncertainty. At the same time, an unhinged spread of false or deceptive information can easily have numerous harmful consequences, including the loss of public trust in science. In this block seminar we will start from the philosophical discussions on the evaluation of scientific hypotheses, and the role of values in scientific inquiry. In addition, we will look into recent controversies surrounding the fact-checking of scientific claims. Throughout the course, students will work in teams, where each team will choose a case-study to research. The result of the research will be presented in the final block. The course will consist of three blocks, to be held on Saturdays. In addition, teams will have (online) coaching sessions in between the blocks. The reading list will be provided at the start of the course.