RC6 From Data to insight, or: Do you even science? - An introduction into the philosophy of scientific reasoning


This course gives an introduction into the philosophy of science with a focus on IK2019’s main topic: The interpretation of data. How does science draw conclusions and what can be said about their nature? What qualifies as science? First, the course provides an overview of influential accounts on what science is and how it works, including both normative (e.g. falsificationism by Popper) and descriptive (e.g. Scientific revolutions or paradigm shifts in science by Kuhn) notions. Equipped with these basics, the course proceeds with a focus on scientific reasoning, inference, and explanation. Finally, metaphysical conceptions (realism, empiricism, physicalism, reductionism) that are fundamental for natural sciences are discussed. Examples will be given from the fields of (neuro)biology, neuroscience, and psychology.


The philosophical reflection of one’s research or of science as a whole is fundamentally different from doing actual research. However, scientific disciplines and research programs cannot work without presuppositions (e.g. that everything in our world is basically physical) that usually lie outside of their fields. The goal of the course is to increase awareness for this and other philosophical matters related to science and to provide the participants with basic tools needed for the philosophical reflection of their own research.


  1. Chakravartty, Anjan, "Scientific Realism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Link
  2. Chalmers, Alan F. (1999). What is this thing called science? Open Univ. Pr., Buckingham
  3. Hansson, Sven Ove, "Science and Pseudo-Science", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Link
  4. Nola, Robert (2014). Theories of scientific method. An introduction. Routledge, London
  5. Quine, W.V.O, 1953, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”, in From a Logical Point of View, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 20–46

Course location

Forum 2

Course requirements


Instructor information.

Tobias Heinz

Department of Philosophy, University of Münster


I am a MA student of philosophy of science at the University of Münster, Germany (2016- present). Currently, I am writing my master thesis with a focus on philosophical accounts of memory and their relations to neuroscience of memory, especially in the light of recent reports on memory manipulating techniques and so- called false memories. Beyond that, my main research interest is the philosophy of biology, the cognitive sciences, and metaphysical topics such as causality, reductionism, and the mind-body relation. I am aiming to graduate in philosophy of neuroscience. I earned a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences at the University of Münster in 2015.