Theory of Science and Ethics D0611

Learning outcome

A candidate who has passed the course will have a learning outcome in the form of acquired knowledge, skills, and general competence, as described below.


The candidate:

  • understands the central concepts and principles of scientific reasoning and research.
  • can explain the different positions within the philosophy of science with a view to the main points of disagreement.
  • understands the distinguishing marks, including criteria of demarcation, between scientific knowledge and other types of knowledge and systems of belief.
  • understands and can apply accepted criteria for distinguishing between different disciplines within science and research.
  • has knowledge of alternative views concerning the legitimacy of science.
  • understands of the central issues pertaining the question of science and values.
  • can account for different types of ethical responsibility of scientists and researchers.
  • can account for the role of science and technology in history and in contemporary society.
  • has an understanding of issues of uncertainty and risk in uses of technology and scientific theory.


The candidate:

  • can assess a research project in view of available data and uses of data (method).
  • can discuss problems of interpreting data in view of different positions within the philosophy of science.
  • has the ability to consider a research project and its significance in a social and cultural context and in relation to other fields of science and research.
  • can assess a research project and the manner in which it is carried out in view of methodological requirements and the professional responsibilities of scientists and researchers.
  • can assess a research project and possible uses of its results in view of different types of ethical responsibility of scientists and researchers.
  • can assess a research project and uses of research results in view of uncertainty and risk.

General competence

The candidate:

  • is able to identify and address philosophical and methodological issues that arise in connection with particular research projects.
  • is able to recognize ethical issues of research projects and engage in research in an ethically defensible manner.
  • is able to recognize cases of conflicting ethical concerns and responsibilities and formulate procedures to resolve such conflicts.
  • is able to identify and address ethical issues that might arise in view uncertainty and risk in connection with a specific research project and uses of its results.

Course Description

Science in history

General outline of the historical development of science; the impact of science and technology on culture in the past and present; cases from the history of science.

Theories, methods and problems of empirical science

Induction, hypothetico-deductive method; philosophies of science: logical positivism, critical rationalism (Popper), theory of scientific revolutions (Kuhn), contemporary critiques; observation and theory: the problem of theory-dependence; different types of science/disciplines and their relationships: natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities – explanation and understanding; methodological approaches in the social sciences: collectivism and individualism, hermeneutics, phenomenology, constructivism and positivism.

Ethics and issues of value in science and research

The role of value and interest in science and research: pure and applied science and research, commissioned research; the justification of science: Aristotle vs. Bacon; ethical responsibility in science and research: professional responsibility, social and environmental responsibility, responsibility to individuals; codes of ethics: their role and justification; uncertainty and managing risk in the acceptance of scientific theory and uses of technology.

Science, Technology and Society

The impact of technology on individuals and contemporary society.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Lectures and seminars – compulsory attendance.

Assessment Methods

Each student will, prior to the course, submit a brief reflection note on a specific topic addressed in the readings for the course. Students’ performance is assessed as Pass/Fail, based on individually written essays on a topic of the student’s own choice, subject to instructor’s approval.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Unni Stamland Kaasin <> - 03/01/2014