Graduate Courses (2012-2013)
HPS 2503: History of Science 1
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
This course is designed as an introduction to the history of human understanding of the non-living world from antiquity to the modern era. Highlighted during this course will also be topics in the historiography of the sciences. Most readings will be drawn from primary source materials. The specific topics treated in this course vary from year-to-year and from professor-to-professor.
HPS 2508: J.J. Gibson and Ecological Theories of Perception and Cognition
Dr. Peter Machamer
and Dr. James Lennox
Ecological considerations have influenced cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience and, recently, even philosophy (extended mind, embodied cognition, etc.). The development and influence of ecological theories of perception and cognition owe much to the work of J. J. Gibson (and Egon Brunswik before him). Arguably Gibson and his students changed the way perception was understood, from a snap-shot, constructivist picture to a direct, active theory where the perceiver interacts picking up information from the physical world. This course will focus on the work of J.J. Gibson and a few of his students. We will trace the development of Gibson's ideas about perception within the context of his critique of prevailing views. We then examine Gibson's (often unacknowledged) influence, e.g. in textbooks, new movements, etc. The final few weeks will deal with contemporary developments, where Gibson's influence may be seen in cognitive neuroscience and philosophy. This course may be interest to people interested in philosophy of psychology, educational psychology, history of psychology, methodology of cognition, and cognitive psychology, among others.
HPS 2599: Historical and Philosophical Issues in Behavioral Genetics
Dr. Kenneth Schaffner
The history of behavioral (and psychiatric) genetics, and related philosophical and methodological issues, will be reviewed from its beginnings in 1960 to the present day. Reading materials will include original papers and secondary sources, as well as a number of oral interviews with leaders, prominent users, and critics of the field. The focus will be on human studies including the IQ controversy, normal personality genetics, personality disorders, and schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer's disease. The types of studies to be reviewed include heritability analyses and conceptual problems with heritability, as well as molecular methods and problems with replicability and explanatory breadth and depth. The revolution produced by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in the past five years will be reviewed, and the problem of "missing heritability" analyzed. The roles of the environment and intermediate phenotypes (endophenotypes) including brain imaging studies will be discussed. Comparison and contrast of the pros and cons of GWAS (putatively "theory free") studies, pathway analysis, and "construct validity or theory-guided" approaches will be presented.
HPS 2647: Representation, Perspectives, and Pluralism
Dr. Sandra Mitchell and Dr. Mazviita Chirimuuta
Multiple models of the "same phenomenon" raise important philosophical questions regarding reduction, unification, and realism. In this seminar we will explore how to interpret the appeal to multiple models in scientific practice. We will focus on the nature of representation itself, the contribution of perspective, and the role of pragmatic considerations in understanding the relationships among different models. Readings will include Van Fraassen, Giere, and others.
HPS 2675 / PHIL 2660/27859: Philosophy of Space and Time
Dr. Eleanor Knox
Time Wednesday 9:30-12:00
This course will consider the interpretation of spacetime theories, past, present (and perhaps future). We'll begin by looking at the traditional debate over the reality of space and spacetime (that is, the debate between relationism and substantivalism) in both Newtonian and relativistic theories. We'll move on to think about the role that the formalism plays in these and related debates, specifically considering the relationship between geometry, coordinate systems and reference frames. Finally, we'll consider how we might interpret alternatives to the standard spacetime theories, including geometrized Newtonian gravitation (Newton-Cartan theory).
HPS 2677 / PHIL 2677/27857: Foundations of Quantum Field Theory
Dr. Giovanni Valente
Philosophy Seminar Room 1001
Relativistic causality is the requirement that causal processes cannot propagate faster than light. Allegedly, such a requirement is incorporated in Einstein's theory of relativity. Indeed, relativistic causality is often referred to as Einstein's causality principle, and it is understood to determine the causal structure of spacetime. Yet, there is an outstanding problem in philosophy of physics concerning the status of relativistic causality. In fact, in the last few decades a number of experimental and theoretical results have raised questions about what, precisely, the relativistic prohibition on superluminal causal processes amounts to. Furthermore, our most fundamental relativistic theories abound with different formulations of relativistic causality. In this seminar we investigate the status of relativistic causality in quantum field theory and general relativity, with a focus on the philosophical consequences that its violation would entail. This is a research seminar.
HPS 2679 / PHIL 2580/27855: Philosophy of Mathematics: Frege
Dr. Kenneth Manders
Philosophy Seminar Room 1001
Frege is the founder of modern logic and logical foundations of mathematics. He deeply influenced philosophy of mathematics in the 20th century. His 1890's papers form the point of departure for analytic philosophy of language. We will survey Frege's work, reading widely including selected secondary literature. First-year students will be able to take the course as a short-paper course; others will write a term paper.
HPS 2501 / PHIL 2600: Philosophy of Science Core
Woodward, James F.
This course will focus on central topics in general philosophy of science, including explanation, confirmation, theory change, and scientific realism. We shall combine a reading of some of the classic texts along with more recent work.
HPS 2522: Special Topics in History of Science: Galileo And All That
In this seminar, we will explore Galileo’s contributions to the cultural revolution of the seventeenth century, including the astronomical discoveries, the physics of falling bodies, the philosophy of nature, the harmony of religion and science. We will place Galileo in the broader humanistic, philosophical, mathematical and religious context of early modern Europe. We will re-enact his ingenious experiments in the HPS laboratory and reconstruct his creative pathways towards knowledge. We will trace his lasting legacy in the controversies that shaped the history and philosophy of modern science. The seminar will be based on an integrated methodology which emphasizes the study of primary sources, dialogue, experimentation, and a hands-on approach to learning.
HPS 2532: History of Quantum Mechanics
Norton, John D.
Modern quantum mechanics emerged in the first 30 years of the twentieth century. It began with an account of the statistical physics of heat radiation by Planck in 1900, with Einstein's proposal of the light quantum in 1905 and with Bohr's 1913 account of atomic spectra. The modern theory emerged in the mid to late 1920s in researches by Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Dirac and more. This seminar will review the historical development of these three decades and will seek to place special emphasis on the developments of the mid to late 1920s.
HPS 2542: Hobbes and Spinoza
Machamer, Peter K.
Thomas Hobbes and Benedict de Spinoza are often seen as contrary contemporaries in the history of philosophy. Hobbes was the complete materialist, with a vision of unified science that ranging from geometry and matter, though the nature of humans, to the nature of the commonwealth. Spinoza is concerned to derive all from the nature of God (an anathema to Hobbes). But Spinoza too was a monist, and had a unified view of nature (and natures). And it is arguable that Spinoza takes his idea of body from Hobbes. This course will read carefully selected texts from Hobbes and Spinoza, including from De Corpore, De Homine, Leviathan, and the Ethics—and the reactions of both of Descartes.
HPS 2633 / PHIL 2633: Philosophy of Cognitive Science
This course will survey the main philosophical questions provoked by cognitive science. Students will acquire a comprehensive grasp of the main issues in this field. Lectures and readings will be taken from artificial intelligence, psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. We will discuss questions such as: Is the mind modular? Is the mind embodied and situated? Do we ascribe mental states by simulation or by means of a theory? What is consciousness? What are concepts?
HPS 2635: Central Problems in Systems Neuroscience
This course will examine the theoretical foundations of systems and behavioural neuroscience, asking what progress has been made towards a general account of neural processing, and discussing obstacles to theoretical unification. Example seminar topics are: The Neuron Doctrine, Information Theory and the Brain, The Bayesian Brain, Decoding Models, Understanding Intrinsic Activity.
HPS 2657 / PHIL 2657: Philosophy of Biology
Lennox, James G.
This seminar will explore questions related to the conceptual and methodological foundations of biology such as the nature and structure of biological explanations, the role of teleological and functional explanations in biology, the species concept and natural kinds, relation of biology to other sciences (chemistry, psychology). The central focus will be on evolutionary biology, and we will examine recent attempts to (re)integrate evolutionary and development biology (evo-devo) in order to reflect on requirements for successful theory integration. The seminar will look at these topics diachronically, tracking developments in the theoretical foundations of biology as a way of better understanding their current status.
HPS 2673 / PHIL 2041 / CLASS 2314: Studies in Aristotle: The Aristotelian Mechanics
Joyce van Leeuwen
The Aristotelian Mechanics is the earliest known theoretical treatment of machines and as such it is of great significance for our knowledge about the history of ancient mechanics. The text consists of 35 mechanical problems, some of which still influenced scholars in early modern Europe, like Galileo. In this seminar we will start with a careful reading of the text of the Mechanics and discuss the mechanical questions in the context of their Byzantine and Renaissance reception. In the second part of the seminar we will focus on the manuscript tradition of the Mechanics, since many modern interpretations and commentaries are based on wrong assumptions about the transmission of the text. Of especial importance are the so far unnoticed diagrams that are contained in the manuscripts of the treatise. By analyzing the diagrams in the authentic Greek manuscripts, we will examine how the mechanical principles were visualized at the time of their production.