Teaching Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 2, June 1995

Moti Nissani
Pages 147-154

An Experiential Component in Teaching Philosophy of Science

The author presents an updated version of J.B. Conant's vision of the inclusion of hands-on experiences and self-contained historical case studies in introductory philosophy of science course. The experiential component is often neglected in philosophy of science courses. Students are usually given scientific facts, concepts, and practices as their formal introduction to the material, which prohibits them from engaging with the question of the nature of science in general. Student finish courses without adequate experience of the concepts or objects that are essential for understanding the philosophical foundations of science. This paper outlines a series of pedagogical tools that highlight vital experiential components of the scientific enterprise, such as an emphasis on observation and the problem solving and creative aspects of scientific inquiry. The author contends that these components help confront common misconceptions on the nature of science which many students hold in introductory philosophy of science courses. These tools also help students engage with the scientific literature and incite discussion among students.