Physics and Philosophy
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleNWI-FFIL211B
Credits (ECTS)3
CategoryMA (Master)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Science; Institute for Science, Innovation and Society;
dr. L. Consoli
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. L. Consoli
Other course modules lecturer
dr. L. Consoli
Other course modules lecturer
dr. L. Consoli
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. H.W. de Regt
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
KW1  (04/09/2023 to 05/11/2023)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After this course, students will be able to
  • Make explicit which implicit philosophical questions, concepts, and assumptions undergird the discipline of physics.
  • Reflect on the philosophical concerns toward which contemporary physics is oriented.
  • Understand how issues regarding the normative power of science in general are closely related to the ongoing interplay of physics and metaphysics.
Physics as a discipline has had, and still has, a profound impact on how we understand the world. While technological applications of physics have changed the world, physics has also transformed our thinking and our view of the world to a considerable degree. Conversely, however, physics itself has been influenced by philosophical views and ideas. In short, contrary to what some people believe, physics and philosophy are strongly intertwined.

This course focuses on the interplay of the scientific discipline of physics on the one hand, and philosophical worldviews on the other. After an historical introduction to the development of physics, centering around the Scientific Revolution and the associated transition to a mechanistic worldview, each class will focus on a specific philosophical theme or question related to modern physics. Among these are the debate between reductionism and holism, the relation between theory and experiment, and the question of whether quantum theory can provide understanding of the world. Moreover, we will discuss issues related to the philosophy of string theory, the relation between mathematics and nature, as well as normative implications of science.

Form of tuition: lectures and in-class discussions.

N.B.: although there is no attendance requirement, attending the lectures is highly recommended.
This course is intended for MSc-students in the natural sciences
Presumed foreknowledge
Bachelor in Science.
Test information
Group paper (90%) + obligatory participation in discussion (10%)

Required materials
Background literature will be announced and made available on Brightspace.

Instructional modes

Test weight9
Test typePaper
OpportunitiesBlock KW1, Block KW2, Block KW3, Block KW4

Test weight1
Test typeAssignment
OpportunitiesBlock KW1, Block KW3