PHL304 Philosophy of Science and the Social Sciences (8)

What is science and how does it differ from non-science and pseudoscience? Is there a distinctive scientific method? Does applying the scientific method let us find out about reality? What is the methodological importance of scientific experimentation? Are the social sciences a genuine part of science? What role do intentions and individual action play in the explanation of social behavior? What explanatory role should appeals to values play in the social sciences? Are interpretive approaches to understanding people's behaviour, such as psychoanalysis, scientific? These are classic topics of philosophical debates about the nature of science and the social sciences which will be examined in this subject.

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2020.

Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate knowledge of the course of the Twentieth Century philosophical debates about scientific and social scientific knowledge;
  • be able to evaluate particular issues in the philosophy of science;
  • be able to evaluate particular issues in the philosophy of the social sciences; and
  • be able to demonstrate familiarity with the work of at least one major philosopher of science.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • What science is
  • How is science different from non-science and pseudoscience?
  • The method of inductivism, scientific observations and facts
  • Poppers' method of falsificationism
  • Scientific paradigms and scientific revolutions: Kuhn and his critics
  • Are the social sciences scientific?
  • Is psychoanalysis scientific?
  • How explanations in the social sciences proceed
  • The proper role of appeals to values in the social sciences

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: October 2020. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.