Epistemological Foundations

IS 901 for Doctoral program (Center for Doctoral Studies in Business)

General Information

Fall 2020
Lecturer Prof. Dr. Armin Heinzl
Course Format Seminar
Credit Points 8 ECTS
Language English
Grading Seminar Paper (60%), Discussion and Discourse (40%)
Information for Students Registration by email to heinzl until 15 September 2020
Luise Bühler

Luise Bühler

Contact person Epistemological Foundations

For further information please contact Luise Bühler.

    Course Information

  • Brief Description

    This course is designed for doctoral students in information systems and other managerial disciplines. It provides a basic understanding of philosophy of science and its epistemological foundations. On the one hand, the course will focus on those concepts which derive knowledge from observation, induction, and refutation of facts. Furthermore, it also takes experiments as well as the new experimentalism into account in order to refer to those disciplines that focus on the evaluation of artifacts like prototypes and algorithms for example. Thus, the underlying epistemological foundations are of central interest to every doctoral student who studies the structure and behavior of information systems and operations/logistics phenomena. The course will be offered in an interactive style. All doctoral students have to offer at least one presentation and a documentation regarding a specific epistemological stance. Assignment of topics will be conducted by the lecturer.

  • Lecture

    Lecturer Prof. Dr. Armin Heinzl


    Date Time Topic Room Literature
    18.9.2020 1.45 pm-5.00 pm Kick-Off / Pre-Session
    – Introduction of the participants and their research
    – Introduction of the course objectives and structure
    – Literature overview
    – Topic definition for seminar papers
    BWL Zoom 13 n.a.
    2.10.2020 1.45 pm-5.00 pm Positivism:
    – Science as knowledge derived from the facts of experience
    – Observation and experiments as practical intervention
    – Deriving theories from facts: induction
    – Limitations of positivism
    BWL Zoom 13 Chalmers, pp. 1–58
    16.10.2020 1.45 pm-5.00 pm Anti-Positivism:
    – Falsificationism, sophisticated falsificationism, and its limitations
    BWL Zoom 13 Chalmers, pp. 59–103
    30.10.2020 1.45 pm-5.00 pm Non method-centric stances:
    – Kuhn’s paradigms
    – Lakatos’ research programs
    – Feyerabend’s anarchistic theory of science
    – Methodical changes in method
    BWL Zoom 13 Chalmers, pp. 104–173
    13.11.2020 1.45 pm-5.00 pm Bridging the past and the future:
    – The “new” experimentalism
    – Why should the world obey laws?
    – Realism and anti-realism
    BWL Zoom 13 Chalmers, pp. 193–246
    27.11.2020 1.45 pm-5.00 pm Philosophical foundations of other disciplines: social science and computer science. BWL Zoom 13 tba
    20.1.2021 1.45 pm-5.00 pm Final seminar paper presentations BWL Zoom 13 Seminar papers / slides
  • Grading and Attendance

    Seminar Paper and Presentation

    You are requested to retrieve additional literature which deepens the respective stances. This will also frame and guide your seminar paper. The latter will be presented at the beginning of the subsequent session. Time format is 30 min for the presentation plus 30 min for the joint discussion.


    During the first session, topics will be assigned to participating doctoral students. Each student will be asked to elaborate a presentation with regard to the assigned topic which goes beyond the introductory literature as well as to lead the discussion regarding his/her topic. Further details will be provided in the first session.


    Participating students are required to attend all sessions. If the Corona situation aggravates, the course will be offered in Zoom.

  • Literature

    This book represents a starting point. It will be the basis for the discussion sessions:

    • Chalmers, A.F.: What is this thing called science? 4th edition, Hill and Wang Publisher, 2013.
      Chalmers, A.F.: Wege der Wissenschaft: Einführung in die Wissenschaftstheorie (German Editi-on), Springer 2006

    Recommendable is also the following book for further studies:

    • Curd, M.; Cover, J.A., Pincock, C.: Philosophy of Science – the Central Issues, 2nd edition, Nor-ton publishers, 2012

    For session 6, the sources will be specified according to the topics selected.

  • Teaching Format

    If the Covid-19 pandemic permits, the course will be offered in a presence format. Please make sure you fully comply with the contemporary hygienic safety regulations of the University of Mannheim. Please do not forget your masks and keep the respective safety distance to your fellow students and instructor(s).

    In addition, the sessions will be transmitted and recorded via Zoom.