Philosophy of Science


Timothy Devinney, 5 September to 9 September



This course is concerned with the nature of social science inquiry. It is intended for students in the business and management disciplines and those early in their masters and doctoral research program. The course is broken into four sections: (1) an introductory overview to the philosophy of science, (2) a review of epistemology – the nature and scope of knowledge − (3) a review of ontology – the what can be said to exist − and (4) specific applications to the major disciplinary areas. The course will take the form of a seminar. Students will be pre-assigned readings and will lead the discussion. There will also be two ‘written’ assignments, which have a presentation and submission component. The written submission component can be either a short write up or PowerPoint with notes.

Teaching Objectives

After participating in this course, students should be in a position:

  • To introduce the philosophy of science and its application to social science.
  • To outline major differing classes of theory in social science and to explicate their meta-theoretical foundations.
  • To familiarize students with the plurality of views on these issues in the intellectual community.
  • To provide students with an opportunity to apply these concepts to the analysis of issues in social science.
  • To provide students with an opportunity to practise scholarly discourse.


  • Solid command of English.
  • Willingness to engage in preparatory readings of case studies and/or research papers.


The assessment for this subject will be based 40% on class participation and 60% on written materials. The class participation is split 50:50 between participation in the discussion (including attendance) plus your own presentations. The two written assignments are worth 30% each.

For the first assignment, each student will be assigned one/two reading(s) in the epistemology or ontology components of the course. For each of these papers: (1) you are to prepare a short overview of the assigned papers (up to 500 words if you wish to hand it in in this form) plus be prepared to do a 10-minute presentation that should be no more than 5 slides.

For the second assignment you will be assigned one/two readings relevant to your area from readings in the disciplinary application component of the course. You are to prepare a presentation reviewing and evaluating critically the discussion in the assigned readings and their application to your own work (again the format of the ‘written’ component is identical to the first assignment). Although your focus will be on the assigned articles you must integrate this with the relevant readings and discussion throughout the course. This essay is restricted to 500 words.