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Philosophy of Science: Understanding Scientific Reasoning LIBS 7006

Liberal Studies Course

International Fees

International fees are typically three times the amount of domestic fees. Exact cost will be calculated upon completion of registration.

Course details

Develops simple, yet powerful methods for understanding and evaluating a wide variety of scientific and pseudo scientific material. Introduces some of the great thinkers and theories of the past, both winners and losers. Reflects on what makes scientific reasoning so effective, and uses these reflections to evaluate some contemporary criticisms of the place of science in society.


  • BCIT ENGL 1177, or 6 credits BCIT Communication at 1100-level or above, or 3 credits of a university/college first-year social science or humanities course.





Course offerings

Fall 2023

Below is one offering of LIBS 7006 for the Fall 2023 term.

CRN 33566


Tue Sep 05 - Fri Dec 15 (15 weeks)

  • 15 weeks
  • CRN 33566
  • $722.36
Class meeting times
Dates Days Times Locations
Sep 05 - Dec 15 N/A N/A Online
Dec 14 Thu 18:30 - 21:30 Burnaby SW01 Rm. 2009

Tim Kosub

Course outline




Important information
  1. *(A)* This is NOT a SELF-PACED course. There will be specific timelines for assignments and exams. Course content, kind and quality of assignments and general standards for this online course are the same as classroom courses. You will have discussions and assignments to complete each week (although you do NOT have to be online at a particular time or day). *(B)* FINAL EXAMS: Final exams will be held IN-PERSON on the Burnaby campus in the last week of the course. If you live outside the Lower Mainland area you will be required to have an approved proctor administer the exam. You are directly responsible for any invigilation fees and related costs.

In Progress

This course offering is in progress. Please check back next term or subscribe to receive email updates.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Distinguish theoretical models from real-world objects of study. (GA 12)
    • Abstract brief descriptions of theoretical models from popular or semi-technical science reports.
    • Recognize the empirical predictions of such models.
    • Note whether these predictions are actually fulfilled in observation or experiment (negative or positive evidence).
    • Judge whether there are other plausible models that can (also) explain the facts.
    • Judge whether to accept, reject or suspend judgement on whether the proposed model accurately represents the world.
    • Judge whether the proposed model is credible, but needs further development or testing; or judge that the proposed model is implausible, and (currently, at least) not worth pursuing.
  • See how historically eminent scientific models triumphed over then-plausible contemporary views. (GA 12)
    • The students will have read through James Watson's classic, The Double Helix, as well as the brief historical episodes discussed in the texts.
    • The students will also have been provided with further details regarding the historical episodes discussed in the text. Such nuances can help reveal how and when theory evaluations are tied to theoretical traditions.
  • See that 'marginal science' models are generally not worth accepting or pursuing because (i) they make vague or multiple predictions; (ii) their predictive 'successes' are also explained by more plausible models; or (iii) they are deeply inconsistent with well-established theories. (GA 6, 12)
    • Recognize and intelligently engage with some alternative philosophies of science.
  • Distinguish sample and statistical models from the larger population they are designed to represent.
    • Understand statistical proportions, distributions, correlations and variables.
    • Understand basic mathematical probability models (addition, multiplication rules, conditional probabilities, the structure of random sampling, and standard deviation).
    • Quickly compute margins of error from sample sizes.
    • Recognize the connection between margin of error and confidence level.
    • Construct simple statistical models of reported proportions, distributions and correlations.
    • Recognize and evaluate samples according to how well they approximate random sampling.
    • Distinguish statistical significance from 'significance.'
    • Judge whether a proposed statistical model should be accepted, rejected or treated as unsupported.
  • Distinguish causation from correlation. (GA 12)
    • Distinguish deterministic from probabilistic models of causation.
    • Distinguish causal models for individuals from those for populations.
    • Understand causal 'effectiveness.'
    • Understand the role of control and experimental groups in establishing causal hypotheses.
    • Understand the theoretical superiority of Randomized Experimental Designs for supporting causal hypotheses.
    • See when Prospective and Retrospective causal models are required, and when they can support a causal hypothesis.
    • Understand controlling for other variables, matching control and experimental groups, and constructing control groups (in Retrospective studies).
  • Understand the elements of decision-making models (options, states of the world, outcomes and values) (If time permits.)​.
    • Distinguish ranked from measured values.
    • Recognize when a situation calls for decision making with certainty, uncertainty, or risk.
    • Grasp better, worse and satisfactory options and correlated strategies.
    • Combine probabilities and values, in terms of expected values in situations involving known risks.​

Effective as of Fall 2023

Related Programs

Philosophy of Science: Understanding Scientific Reasoning (LIBS 7006) is offered as a part of the following programs:

School of Business + Media

  1. Accounting
    Bachelor of Accounting Full-time/Part-time
  2. Bachelor of Business Administration
    Bachelor of Business Administration Full-time/Part-time

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    Associate Certificate Part-time
  2. Residential Interiors
    Diploma Part-time

School of Health Sciences

  1. Bachelor of Health Science (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Option)
    Bachelor of Health Science Part-time


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