Module Catalogue 2017/18

PHI2002 : Cultural Contradictions of Scientific Rationality

  • Offered for Year: 2017/18
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stephen Overy
  • Owning School: Philosophical Studies & Combined Honours
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
PHI2001Knowledge and Human Interests
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module aims to introduce students to issues in the philosophy of science, about 'truth', 'objectivity', 'scientific realism', and 'incommensurability'. It will address 'Scientism' and 'Positivism', and explore the philosophical representations of tensions between 'science', 'wisdom', and 'culture'.

Outline Of Syllabus

Truth/objectivity and rationality
The hypothetico-deductive method and scientific paradigms (Popper and Kuhn) Knowledge and Human Interests (Habermas) Positivism, Scientism Critique of scientific rationality: early Nietzsche's response: 'wisdom versus Knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will:
•       Learn to identify the characteristics of scientific rationality;
•       Learn to identify different paradigms of rationality;
•       Develop a critical understanding of key areas in the history of the philosophy of science;
•       Develop an understanding of cultural counter-currents to scientism and positivism.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will:
•       Learn to engage with philosophical concepts and materials, in a detailed and critical manner;
•       Learn to practice history as philosophy;
•       Begin to learn to subject their own defining preconceptions to critical scrutiny.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Assessed
    • Literacy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Assessed
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
  • Application
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion251:0025:00Preparation and completion of assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture141:0014:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study511:0051:00Review lecture material and prepare for small group teaching
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module complements the examination of Kant’s critical philosophy, presented in PHI2001, by subjecting the paradigm of critical philosophy to philosophical-historical analysis. The study of Foucault’s Madness and Civilization not only challenges the modern presumption of reason as a definitively human characteristic, but introduces students to a mode of critical philosophy as history, to supplement their exposure to the Kantian model of critical philosophy as systematic.

Students are encouraged to a detailed reading of a single philosophical text, and to the consideration of that text in the light of appropriate secondary criticism, as indicated on the reading list provided.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A1002000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The end-of-semester essay allows students the necessary scope to propose their own historical account of the history of reason/unreason, as it has unfolded subsequent to the onset of the Enlightenment. It also provides students with the opportunity of identifying and discussing some philosophical implications of their historical account, and so of exhibiting their newly-acquired capacity to render historical work as a critical practice.

The assessment’s focus on a single philosophical text allows students the opportunity to avail themselves of one or more of the various perspectives offered to them by secondary commentaries and therefore to hone their skills in research.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

Original Handbook text:

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2017/18 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.