PHIL 271: Science & Society

We pursue science within a democratic society.  Scientific experts inform what policies we pursue and what options we choose from as consumers.  Citizens rely upon science to help them assess governments and their effectiveness.  Why do we rely upon science so heavily?  What is distinctive about the knowledge that science produces?  How should scientific advice be generated and utilized?  And in what ways should society limit the avenues science pursues, whether through funding or ethical oversight?

This course will address these and similar questions, grounding our understanding of science in society through philosophical, historical, and sociological examinations of scientific practice. No prior philosophy background is presumed.  Cases to be considered will include the pursuit and publication of gain-of-function research, MMR vaccine controversies, and the L’Aquila earthquake verdicts.


PHIL 271 will be taught by Heather Douglas in Fall 2016, meeting Tuesday and Thursday, 4-5:20 pm.