2023-2024 / PHIL0110-1

Epistemology of Health Sciences


15h Th

Number of credits

 Master in journalism (120 ECTS)5 crédits 


Vinciane Despret

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

a. Introduction: What is epistemology? The place of epistemology in philosophy. The different sciences¿ specific problems: norm and objectivity; the specificity of sciences; the issue of testing.
b. The notion of truth: history of the production of truth (M. Foucault)
c. Science philosophy: theoretical history (Inductivism, Falsificationism, Popper, Kuhn¿s paradigms). New theories: the sociology of science, constructivism.
d. How does science relate to culture?
Practical case: nature sciences: Darwinism and its reception; contemporary ethology and primatology. How does the social, political or ideological context influence the definitions of scientific subjects, examination and interview methods and information collection? (Is science really natural?)
e. Biology as a science of culture
Practical case: the role of metaphors, practices and representations in biology¿s recent history: ova; embryology and genetics; sexual hormones. How have political, social, ideological but also technical contexts influenced the evolution of the subjects of biomedical sciences; how do scientists build reality? Are scientific facts objectively established or collectively created?

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

Critically considering the epistemological foundations of sciences, esp. those on which biomedical knowledge relies.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)


Recommended or required readings

Lecture notes will be available in the beginning of the cycle.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- Remote

written exam

Written work / report

Additional information:

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- Remote

written exam

Written work / report

Additional information:

Written assigment due. 

Students will have to write an assignment The work must be limited to 1 page of writing (character 12), to which are added a cover page with your first and last names as well as the chosen subject, and possibly 1 page of bibliographical references



 three options to choose from

. Starting from a theoretical point (or several) of the course, explain how what you learned about these theories interested you, whether in relation to your professional life, your studies, or even with what the covid crisis has forced you to go through. You will briefly develop this point or these points, as you have understood them (it should not be too long), then you will explain what it helps you to think about in professional or study situations, or in relation to crisis.


 Or From articles read about this crisis, what does it tell us, either about science or even about your profession in the field of caregivers? Do not forget to indicate the references on which your work is based and to summarize the points that interested you.


Or Read and review Barbara Stiegler's manifesto, Democracy in a Pandemic, Gallimard, Tract n°23. You do not have to summarize the whole book, you can simply develop the points that interested you as caregivers or future caregivers.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course


Professor V. Despret
Département de Philosophie, office 2/32b
Place du XX Août
Phone: 04/366 55 98
Secretary: 04/366 55 99
Email: v.despret@ulg.ac.be

Association of one or more MOOCs

Items online

Online Notes
Notes are available on eCampus.