COURSE GOALS: The objective of the course is to encourage students to ponder about physics, to help them in placing their own profession within a wider historical, philosophical, cultural and social context, and to show them how to enrich teaching and make it more interesting by pointing to the philosophical problems that physics raises. The course presents physics, as a human activity, and the physical knowledge, as a product of that activity, as a philosophical problem, i.e. as a subject of a philosophical investigation. The accent is on the two points of this investigation: on the problem of the nature of physics and justification of the physical knowledge (philosophy of science: what physics and science in general are?) and on the problem of the worldview shaped on the basis of physical theories (philosophy of physics: what kind of a worldview physics offers?). The course offers an overview of the basic philosophical problems of physics and some of its solutions.
LEARNING OUTCOMES AT THE LEVEL OF THE PROGRAMME:
This course helps students to be able, upon completing the degree, to:
1. KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
1.1. demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of the fundamental laws of classical and modern physics
1.3. demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of the most important physics theories (logical and mathematical structure, experimental support, described physical phenomena)
1.7. describe the framework of natural sciences
1.8. integrate physics and chemistry content knowledge with knowledge of pedagogy, psychology, didactics and teaching methods courses
2. APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
2.4. recognize and follow the logic of arguments, evaluate the adequacy of arguments and construct well supported arguments
2.10. create a learning environment that encourages active engagement in learning and promotes continuing development of pupils' skills and knowledge
3. MAKING JUDGMENTS
3.1. develop a critical scientific attitude towards research in general, and in particular by learning to critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data
3.5. demonstrate professional integrity and ethical behavior in work with pupils and colleagues
4. COMMUNICATION SKILLS
4.2. present complex ideas clearly and concisely
4.3. present their own research results at education or scientific meetings
4.4. use the written and oral English language communication skills that are essential for pursuing a career in physics, chemistry and education
5. LEARNING SKILLS
5.1. search for and use professional literature as well as any other sources of relevant information
5.3. develop a personal sense of responsibility for their professional advancement and development
LEARNING OUTCOMES SPECIFIC FOR THE COURSE:
On completion of this course successful student will be able to outline and critically analyse:
1. the fundamental problems of the philosophy of science;
2. the main views on the nature of physical theories;
3. the main views on the nature of physical experiments;
4. the main models of the development of science;
5. the fundamental philosophical problems of classical mechanics;
6. the most important interpretations of quantum mechanics.
Introduction. Different aspects of the interconnectedness between physics and philosophy. Modern physics as a philosophical problem: the philosophy of science and the philosophy of physics.
Rationalism and empiricism. Inductive account of physical knowledge. Logical positivism.
Popper and falsificationism. Duhem-Quine thesis.
Kuhn: paradigms and scientific revolutions. Social constructivism.
Lakatos: research programmes. Feyerabend and scientific method.
The nature of laws and explanation in physics. The philosophy of experiment.
Realism and instrumentalism.
Space and time. Space-time. Dynamical laws and symmetries.
The ontology of classical physics: particles and fields. Determinism. The nature of classical physics. Modern physics and the ideal of divine knowledge.
Probability, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Irreversibility. Introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics: the double slit thought experiment and real experiments (electrons, neutrons, atoms, the welcher Weg experiment).
Dual nature of light: the existence of photons and the delayed-choice experiment. Stationary states and quantum beats. The discussion about experiments: experiential, theoretical, and interpretational level.
Different interpretations of quantum mechanics: quantum realism, Copenhagen interpretation, epistemic interpretation, ontological interpretation (Bohm and hidden variables), statistical interpretation, quantum logic. Various interpretations of the uncertainty relations.
Measurement problem and some solutions (modifications of quantum mechanical formalism, many worlds and many minds, decoherence by environment, decoherent histories...).
EPR dilemma, Bell's inequality and experiments. Nonseparability of the quantum phenomenon. Quantum mechanics, classical physics and the antic natural philosophy: relationship, similarities and differences.
REQUIREMENTS FOR STUDENTS:
Students are required to regularly attend classes, read the weekly texts and prepare for the seminar discussion topics in advance and write a seminar paper.
GRADING AND ASSESSING THE WORK OF STUDENTS:
The exam is oral, at the end of the course. A student is evaluated on the basis of the knowledge demonstrated at the lecture and seminar discussions, knowledge demonstrated at the exam, and on the basis of the seminar paper grade.
- S. Lelas i T. Vukelja, Filozofija znanosti, Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1996.
- J. Lelas, Teorije razvoja znanosti, ArTresor, Zagreb, 2000.
- L. Sklar, Philosophy of Physics, Westview Press, Boulder, 1992.
- A. F. Chalmers, What is this thing called Science?, 3. izdanje, Open University Press, Buckingham, 1999.
- M. Curd i J. A. Cover, Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, W. W. Norton & Comp., 1998.
- R. Torretti, The Philosophy of Physics, Cambridge Universitiy Press, Cambridge, 1999.
- J. T. Cushing, Philosophical Concepts in Physics: The Historical Relation between Philosophy and Scientific Theories, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998.
- G. Greenstein i A. G. Zajonc, The Quantum Challenge, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Boston, 1997.