Philosophy of Science

Dr. Robert Sutton

Office: S511-B

PHI 250

Phone: 362-7133

Spring 2008

Office Hrs: MWF 9-10:00; MW 1-2:00:

And by appointment


Mail S202

Home Page:



This course introduces the concepts of empirical observations and laws and their role in scientific explanation, prediction, and theory formation.  Topics include the relationship between the philosophy of science and inductive/deductive logic, analytic philosophy, logical empiricism, and explanatory paradigms.  Upon completion, students should be able to describe the development and role of scientific explanation, prediction, theory formation, and explanatory paradigms in the natural and social sciences.  This course has been approved to satisfy the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement for transferability as a premajor and/or elective course requirement.



Written Communication

Understanding Social Structure

Oral Communication

Problem Solving

Critical Thinking

Understanding Scientific Concepts & Application

Basic Computer Usage





Zucker, Arthur. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1996.

REQUIREMENTS: There will be 2 major papers.  The first is a mid-term paper dealing with one of the issues discussed Chapters 1-4 of the course text.  The second paper, due at the end of the semester, will describe the contribution to science made by a major scientific personality or event.  These papers will be at least 4 pages in length and comply with MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.  In addition, each reading will require a 1-2 page response that will be shared in class. Each of these three items will equally determine your final grade.

The class format will be lecture discussion. Key vocabulary and central ideas will be presented in class with an opportunity for you to discuss and to demonstrate your understanding of course material. This process will only prove fruitful and learning will only occur if all assignments are read prior to the class.

No make up exams will be given without prior arrangement.

The Syllabus: There are various ways to look at the first day handout that influences how you view a course. Often, students think of the syllabus as a blueprint, analogous to an architect's drawing of a house. Such a conception leads to the conclusion that a course simply follows steps until one arrives at the end where one can measure the outcomes in relationship to the plans. I would urge you to think of the handout as a map. Like a blueprint, the map provides us with information necessary to arrive at our destination. But, the analogy of the map alerts us to the fact that a journey, like a course and all good education, is to be enjoyed and meaningful from the moment one begins the adventure, not simply when one arrives.

CAPE FEAR ATTENDANCE POLICY: CFCC policy requires 80% attendance. Thus, a grade of "F" is issued on the 10th hour of absence, no exceptions. It is your responsibility to keep track of your absences.  As a matter of respect for your colleagues, and me, you are expected to be in class on time.  Roll will be taken at the beginning of class and if you are not here to respond, you will be marked absent.

GRADING: School wide grade scale is as follows:

A=100-92(4), B=91-84(3), C=83-76(2), D=75-68(1), F=67(0), WP, WF, I

No withdrawals will be granted without a face to face consultation with the instructor and it is CFCC policy that, "Students who withdraw after the twelfth week of classes must obtain permission in writing from the course instructor and the Dean of Student Development. Permission will be granted for extenuating circumstances only."

PLAGIARISM STATEMENT:  Plagiarism is using as your own the words or ideas of another, whether written or oral.  When you use material from a source, you must quote or paraphrase accurately and properly cite the information.  Failure to do so is considered plagiarism.  Examples of plagiarism include word-for-word copying without correctly indicating that you are quoting, inaccurate quoting and paraphrasing and incomplete or missing documentation.  Purchasing a paper or copying someone else's work and submitting it as your own are also plagiarism.  Any misrepresentation of the source in your writing or speaking would constitute a form of plagiarism. Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is not acceptable.  The Humanities and Fine Arts Department adheres to the CFCC policy on cheating as stated in the Catalog and Student Handbook.

CONTINGENCY PLAN:  If there is an emergency and the instructor or an appropriate substitute does not meet with the class, wait fifteen minutes.  If no instructor shows, the class should sign a roll sheet and designate someone to take it to the Humanities/Fine Arts Department Secretary or Chair. In the event of faculty absences, unless an assignment is given, it is expected that students will use the time studying in the library.

ACCOMMODATION OF SPECIAL NEEDS: Any student who requests classroom accommodations because of a disability must present documentation to verify his/her disability.  This documentation must be furnished to the Disabilities Service Coordinator.  On a confidential basis, the student, disabilities services and the instructor will determine the appropriate accommodations following documentation.  These accommodations will be provided in a manner that is consistent with the objectives, outcomes, and academic standards of the course. Absences must not exceed class attendance policy.

CAMPUS CRUISER:  Every student has an official CFCC-provided email account that is to be used for all email correspondence with your instructors and with the CFCC staff.  Some information (such as TRAC registration info) from CFCC will ONLY be emailed to this address, and not sent through postal mail as in the past, so it is very important that you check this account periodically.  To access this account, please visit the CFCC website click on the CampusCruiser link at the very top of the  page, then follow the directions on the CampusCruiser website to log in.  This email account is provided to you as long as you are enrolled in classes (summer will not count), and may be used for personal email as well as academic email.

Disclaimer on First-Day Handouts:  The instructor reserves the right, acting within the policies and procedures of Cape Fear Community College, to make changes in course content or instructional techniques without notice or obligations.


Semester Hours Credit: 3
Course hours per week: 3
ENG 111 and MAT 161.
Corequisites: None:

Go to Student Guide to Philosophy or to Course Guide .

Updated 12/03/2007