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Psychology and Science


First, this course offers an introduction to the main concepts and developments within classical epistemology, addressing the question of how (scientific) knowledge is established. Second, considerable attention will be paid to the various forms of reasoning used within (and outside) science, the errors (fallacies) that may occur, and the different ways in which people try to convince others. Attention will also be given to examples of fraud in science and ethical considerations concerning the participation in experiments.

Course objectives

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the main ideas about the nature of scientific knowledge.

  • Knowledge and understanding of the way in which science has developed on the basis of historical examples.

  • Knowledge of the main forms of reasoning used within science and beyond.

Applying knowledge and understanding

  • Basic skills in analysing and understanding types of logical reasoning, and the fallacies that may occur

  • Skill in recognizing different methods of persuasion (rhetoric).


Psychology and Science (2013-2014):



First-year students will automatically be registered for the course.


Students will not be automatically enrolled for an examination — they can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.

Mode of instruction

Seven lectures and four work group sessions


The course will consist of seven lectures. In the first four, parts of What is this thing called Science? and Critical Thinking will be discussed, related to the philosophy of science. The remaining three lectures will be on Critical Thinking (in particular concerning fallacies) and a final lecture on questions raised by students.

Work group sessions

There will be four work group sessions, running parallel to the first four lectures. In the work group sessions topics from epistemology will be discussed, along with the logic involved.

A work group will consist of one instructor and a maximum of 24 students (two groups combined). Work groups will meet weekly on four occasions. Attendance is obligatory, and students will be graded. The work group grade will be included in the calculation of the final grade.

Test questions will be used in every meeting to check knowledge and understanding of the material in the course book chapters under study. The instructors will assess the answers as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. An overall grade will be awarded for participation combined with answering the test questions. For information on how this grade will be calculated, see the course workbook.


The material to be studied for the examination consists of chapters from the reading list and lecture material, as assigned by the instructor. The examination consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. The grade for the work group sessions will be included in the calculation of the final grade (30%).

Compensation of partial grades: A partial grade must be at least 5.0 to be compensated by the higher second grade.

The final grade is rounded to whole and half numbers, except for the 5.50.
For the final grade to be a 5.00 or a 6.00, rounding off rules are:
≥ 4.75 and


Before the start of the course the workbook will be put on Blackboard.


  • Chalmers, A. F. (2003). What is this thing called Science? (3rd edition). Open University Press (McGraw-Hill). ISBN (pbk) 0 335 20109

  • Moore, B. N. & Parker, R. (2011). Critical Thinking (10th edition). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0078038280

  • Course workbook for the work group sessions: available via Blackboard.

If you are a member of the study association Labyrint you may purchase books at a reduced price via their study book service. Alternatively there are the academic book shops.


Prof. dr. F. van der Velde
Room 2B10
Tel: 071-5273637