(Pro-seminar: required for all students in their first term)
The HPS1100 Proseminar (2021-22) will be dedicated to experiment (a form of reasoning) that is now widely regarded as the ultimate factfinder in science. What are the grounds for the conviction that experiments are the ultimate factfinders? On what grounds can be it claimed that experiments are uniquely privileged with respect to factfinding? How can we sort out experimental success from experimental failure? Given the richness and diversity of experiment across different fields of inquiry (the natural sciences, engineering, medicine, the social sciences, etc.), can we even have a general (philosophy) of experiment. We will explore the philosophy of experiment (and its historical construction) through case studies (Kuhn referred to this as teaching philosophy by example), starting with Bacon and Boyle and through the study of primary course material attempt to unpack some of the historical circumstances and cultural determinants that institutionalized experiment as our best defense against uncertainty.