Seminar on Scientific Explanation

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Time & Place

Branden Fitelson
Office: Seminary 3 – 110
Hours: Tu/Th 1:30–2:30pm

Seminary 3 – Seminar Room
Tuesdays, 9:50am–12:50


There is only one required text for the course: Jim Woodward's book Making Things Happen. Note that the entire book is available online (subscription required) via Oxford Scholarship Online. It should also be available at local bookstores, and (of course) you can always get a copy online. We will probably only get through the first 5 or 6 chapters or so (if even that much). I will also post a variety of secondary and background readings on this page (see below). In fact, the seminar will begin with a bunch of background stuff that will be posted here. After that, we'll be focusing on Woodward (with optional secondary readings).


I will expect enrolled students to write one term paper for the seminar. There may also be some student presentations. That will depend on enrollment, motivation, and other scheduling issues.


Current course information can be found on the course web site, at:

The home page of our website is reserved mainly for announcements. The purpose of the other pages on our website should be self–explanatory. You should keep an eye on the course website, as it will be updated regularly with various content and announcements pertaining to the course. The only two computer applications you will need to view/print, etc. the content on our website are: (i) your favorite web browser, and (ii) Adobe Reader (version 6 or later, or – if you prefer – another program that can read Acrobat PDF version 6 files).

Tentative Schedule (subject to change and evolution – so stay tuned)

Note: we will have the following guest seminar presenters during the semester. This is one of the reasons we'll probably only get through the first 5 or 6 chapters of the Woodward book.

OK, here are the notes, readings, etc., for the seminar. This list will evolve as the semester unfolds…