Epistemological Foundations of Information Systems and Operations Research


Degree Course Center for Doctoral Studies in Business
Lecturer Prof. Dr. Armin Heinzl
Credit Hours 2
ECTS Credits 8
Grading Topic presentation and course participation
Contact Anna-Maria Seeger (seeger(at)uni-mannheim.de)
Room Room 715, L 15, 1-6
Time See below
Registration heinzl@uni-mannheim.de until Aug 31, 2016
Office Hours By appointment


This course is designed for students of the doctoral program in Information Systems. 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.

No. Date Content/Topic Pre-Reading
1 Sep 9, 2016 2:30pm - 5:00pm Kick-Off Meeting
  • Introduction
  • Literature overview
  • Topic definition for seminar paper
2 Oct 14, 2016 2:30pm - 5:00pm Positivism:
  • Science as knowledge derived from the facts of experience
  • Observation and experiments as practical intervention
  • Deriving theories from facts: induction
  • Limitations of positivism
Chalmers, pp. 1-58
3 Oct 28, 2016 2:30pm - 5:00pm Anti-Positivism:
  • Falsificationism, sophisticated falsificationism, and its limitations
Chalmers, pp. 59-103
4 Nov 11, 2016 2:30pm - 5:00pm Non Method-Centric Stances:
  • Kuhn’s paradigms
  • Lakatos’ research programs
  • Feyerabend’s anarchistic theory of science
  • Methodical changes in method
Chalmers, pp. 104-173
5 Nov 25, 2016 2:30pm - 5:00pm Bridging the Past and the Future:
  • The "new" experimentalism
  • Why should the world obey laws?
  • Realism and anti-realism
Chalmers, pp. 193-246
6 Dec 9, 2016 2:30pm - 5:00pm Philosophical Foundations of Other Disciplines: Social Science, Psychology, and Computer Science. tba

Introductory Literature

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 Edition), Springer 2006

This books represents a starting point. The discussion sessions will be based on them. Recommendable is also the following book for further studies:

Curd, M.; Cover, J.A., Pincock, C.: Philosophy of Science - the Central Issues, 2nd edition, Norton publishers, 2012

For session 6, the following sources are recommended:


You  are requested to retrieve additional literature which deepens the respective stances. This will also guide your seminar paper.


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.


60% Seminar paper, 40% discussion with lecturer.


Participating students have to attend all sessions.