Introduction to logic and philosophy of science i

5th November 2020


Learning not logic alone, but taking advantage of it as a tool. Logic from a philosophical point of view, as a method.

Analyzing the evolution of scientific reasoning and scientific method.

Logic in action not in every field, but rather analyzed in its entirety.

By seeing how logic is used in performing scientific theories, we study its arguably best application.

In the 1930s science corresponded exactly to science itself. A thought promoted by Logical Positivism, particularly explained in the Vienna Circle Manifesto

the scientific world conception is marked by the application of a certain method, namely logical analysis

This course also has a meaning related to the PISE degree, which is understanding the underlying logic in the different disciplines which somewhat relate to science or have a scientific approach. By understanding it we’ll learn to value a subject in terms of its own credentials.

Course organization

How logic interacts with Philosophy of Sciences

Three main debates in which logic has been central in defining

Following a method is what distinguishes science from any other activity. Criteria and rules agreed and proven by researchers make scientific conclusions both accountable and justified. It’s not just a matter of faith.

Within the tradition of science and philosophy, descriptions of such method varied, but all of them recurred to logic to be formulated.

Scientific Method

  • Deductive method: it dates back to Aristotle and it has been the most accounted and considered the best up to the Scientific Revolution in the XIII century.
  • Inductive method: supported by experimentalists (empiricists) starting from the 16th century. Also: induction presented several problems, which many philosophers attempted to solve. The projection from the past to the future, from a logical point of view, gets very troublesome
  • Among the solution to induction, Popper suggested to go back to induction, in the format of Falsification (or Modus Tollens).

    Some of the critics of Popper, by confuting his thesis, often end up putting in serious doubt that science actually uses a method. Therefore, other tools different from logic are considered more insightful, most notably history. This doesn’t mean that logic wasn’t used at all, yet the understanding of science was believed to go well beyond the capabilities of logic.

Logic is an important tool in Philosophy of Science, but not the only one.

Scientific Explanation

What we expect from science is to explain how the world works. Thus, its explanations aren’t expected to be only reasonable, but reliable too.

Once again, logical description comes to the rescue.

  • A famous and widely debated is a method by Hempel: the deductive-nomological model: everything can be explained by a law.
  • A second model goes under the name of inference to the best explanation, that uses abduction, by Pierce; Lipton expanded the definition

Natural Kinds

Science sorts out the world in different categories to explain it, e.g. chemical particles, biological species, etc.

In philosophy of science one way to describe those categories is Natural kinds, which identify recurring qualities to identify kind. +++

To do so, modal logic comes into play. In this way, both necessity and possibility are considered.

Furthermore, if possible, an interrogation to ask ourselves if those kinds can be applied to social kinds, too.


  • knowledge of some basic logical terminology and of some basic philosophy of science terminology
  • acquaintance with some of the main epistemological debates in the philosophy of science and of some of the logical problems and challenges they pose
  • understanding the limits of logical reasoning vis a vis the aims of science.


Written exam, probably online, its structure will be better explained later

What is “logic”

Logic is the study of correct reasoning and valid arguments.

We need to follow certain rules to do so, and logic studies what these are. Logic isn’t an empirical discipline, but a normative one: it tells us how we should reason if we want to reason correctly.

Logic helps us to assess wether having reasoned in a particular way is actually correct.

Logic has to do primarily by the form taken by our argument. For example, if we say a variable is equal to another one, we’re interested in the identity and in their relationship, not in the value these variables assume.

Principles of logic are necessary, not contingent

Next topic: Aristotelian logic



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