The Scientific Revolution and Law



SLN #: 14621
Course Prefix: LAW-791
Course Section: 001
Credit Hours: 3
Instructor(s): White

Course Description:
This course will examine the so-called scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries beginning with Copernicus’ heliocentric cosmological hypothesis. The new cosmology and astronomy virtually demanded a new ‘physics’, in the sense of a new account of the behavior of matter in motion. And the new physics, in turn, placed new demands on mathematics. Using a combination of primary- and secondary-source material, we shall examine this interaction of astronomy, physics, and mathematics from Copernicus to Newton as producing not only a revolution in (natural) science but also as part of the evolution of a new way of looking at the world, and of a new conception of the place of humans and God in that world. In particular, the evolution of the concept of law (as in 'natural law', 'positive law', and 'scientific law') will be considered as a central element in the development of a modern world-view.

Basic Texts:
Kuhn, Thomas S. The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought. Harvard University Press, 1992 (new edition). Paperpack. ISBN-13: 978-0674171039.
Galileo Galilei. The Essential Galileo, ed. Maurice A. Finocchiaro. Hackett Publishing Co., 2008. Paperback. ISBN-13: 978-0872209374.
Westfall, Richard S. The Construction of Modern Science. Cambridge University Press, 1978. Paperback. ISBN-13: 978-0521292955.
Mancosu, Paolo. Philosophy of Mathematics & Mathematical Practice in the Seventeenth Century. Oxford University Press, 1999 (new edition). Paperback. ISBN-13: 978-0195132441.
Newton, Isaac. The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, trans. and ed., I. B. Cohen and Anne Whitman. University of California Press, 1999. Paperback. ISBN-13 978-052008817.

There will be some additional readings; but the materials will be supplied by the instructor to the students in either xerox hardcopy or in elrctronic .PDF format on a course website.

Additional Information:
Credit Hours: 3
Grading Option: Numeric Grade and ONE-Time Pass Option is Available, or Letter Grade Only
Written Assignment: Occasional very short ( 1 page) written assignment may be made.
Graduation Writing Requirement: No
Flexible Writing Requirement: Yes
Skills Requirement: No
Prerequisite: Some background in the physical sciences and mathematics and/or the history of science would be helpful; students who are concerned about their level of preparation for the seminar should contact the instructor.
Limited Enrollment Number: 10
Final Exam Given: A take-home final examination will be given.
Final Exam Type: Take-Home
Mid Term or Other Exam: A take-home midterm, perhaps optional, may be offered.
Paper or In-Class Presentation: A seminar paper in lieu of the take-home final may be written by students seeking to satisfy the seminar writing requirement. Students may be asked to do a short in-class presentation or lead discussion for 20-30 minutes.
Participation Points: Yes--up to 3
Attendance Policy: Per Statement of Student Policies
Additional Attendance Policy: Maximum of 2 unexcused absences
Online Course Site: None