Universität Wien FIND

180156 VO Science and democracy (2021S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: German

Examination dates


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Friday 19.03. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 26.03. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 16.04. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 23.04. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 30.04. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 07.05. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 14.05. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 21.05. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 28.05. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 04.06. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 11.06. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital
Friday 18.06. 10:00 - 11:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Democracy and science seem to be threatened today. The aim of these lectures is (a) to empirically reconstruct the status quo of science and democracy and, on the basis of this, (b) to develop a normative theory of science and democracy that opens up perspectives how science and philosophy of science could help us repelling assaults on democracy and science and prevent them in the future.
The lecture series disintegrates in two parts. First, we discuss several empirical approaches from historiography, political science, philosophy and history of science on the history and present state of democracy and science as well as threats such as populism, conspiracy theories, pseudo-science and science denialism. In the second part of these lectures, we outline a philosophical theory of science, democracy, and values, which is based on non-cognitivism as can be found in the Vienna Circle, early logical empiricism, and the democracy theory of Hans Kelsen. This normative conception is getting defended against alternative conceptions and becomes outlined in its potential usefulness for the overcoming of the current crisis of science and democracy.
The lectures are held online (Moodle) and will be broadcasted live, to allow for a permanent exchange and discussion with the participants. Each lecture is based on a mandatory reading, which will comprise between 50 and 80 pages per week. All texts will be made available online at Moodle. The lectures become recorded and will be also made available at Moodle.

Assessment and permitted materials

Multiple Choice Test.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The test not only covers the content of the lectures but will also contain questions on those parts of the mandatory reading that were not addressed during the lectures. For a positive grade, at least 60 percent of the questions must be answered correctly.

Examination topics

The text of the lectures plus mandatory readings, as outlined below.

Reading list

Rudolf Carnap, „Überwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache“ (1931)
Rudolf Carnap, „Theoretische Fragen und praktische Entscheidungen“ (1934)
Rudolf Carnap, „Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” (1951)
Frank Cunningham, Theories of Democracy (2002), ch. 9, 10
Heather Douglas, Science, Policy, and the Value Free Ideal (2009), ch. 5
Hans Kelsen, „Wissenschaft und Demokratie“ (1937)
Hans Kelsen, „Foundations of Democracy” (1955), part I
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), ch. 2
Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die (2018), Introduction, ch. 1, 9
Helen Longino, Science as Social Knowledge (1990), ch. 4
Lee McIntyre, The Scientific Attitude (2019), ch. 3
Christoph Möllers, Demokratie – Zumutungen und Versprechen (2008), S. 1-62
Otto Neurath, Visual Education (1945), ch. 1-5
Otto Neurath, “The Orchestration of the Sciences by the Encyclopedism of Logical Empiricism” (1946)
Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt (2010), Intro, ch. 1, Conclusion, Epilogue
Karl Popper, Logik der Forschung (1935), ch. 1
Hans Reichenbach, “Die freistudentische Idee (Auszug)“ (1913)
Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy (1952), ch. 17
David Stasavage, The Decline and Rise of Democracy (2020), ch. 1, 9, 12
Joseph E. Uscinski & Joseph M. Parent, American Conspiracy Theories (2014), ch. 1, 2, 7

Association in the course directory

Last modified: We 15.09.2021 09:48