University of Pittsburgh
Graduate Courses (2015-2016)

Spring 2016

HPS 2502: History of Science I
James G. Lennox
W 9:30am - 12:00pm
In our newly reorganized History of Science Core sequence, HPS 2502 (History of Science I) will study the history of the investigation of the living world from the Ancient Greeks through to the late 20th century. This study will be based on a close study of primary texts (in translation when necessary). A primary focus of the seminar will be to track continuity through historical changes as well as the cultural context of the texts we will be studying. Special attention will be given to the ways in which different philosophical and theological views impact thinking about the study of life, and in particular thinking about how the study of human beings and the study of other livings things are related.

HPS 2515: Perspectives in History of Science: The Ocular Revolution? Optics, Philosophy of Color, and Ocular Anatomy in the 16th & 17th Centuries
Tawrin Baker
H 9:30am - 12:00pm
Between about 1500 and 1700 visual theory changed dramatically, along with nearly everything connected with it. The site of vision moved from the transparent crystalline humor to the retina; Aristotelian accounts of vision involving the reception of the forms of color were supplanted by corpuscular models; color, once distinct from light, became a modification of it; and the goal of mathematical optics switched from a science of seeing to a science of the behavior of light. These changes had enormous subsequent effects on science and philosophy. Today our overall picture of these changes is poorly drawn. Developments associated with vision are usually treated piecemeal by historians and philosophers of science, and histories of mathematical optics, histories of anatomy and medicine, and histories of the philosophy of perception are usually tackled within separate academic fields. We will attempt a more integrated view. Along with major figures -- Aristotle, Galen, Ibn al-Haytham, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton—we will read some lesser known ones. We will also tackle the history of the philosophy of color in some detail and its connections to well-known issues such as the primary-secondary quality distinction and the mind-body issue.

HPS 2627 / PHIL 2628: Philosophy of Physics
Giovanni Valente
M 5:30pm - 8:00pm
In this seminar we focus various philosophical problems concerning the foundations of field theories, in preparation for a workshop on the same topic that will take place at the Center for Philosophy of Science in April. Depending on the students’ own interests, we will also look at other issues in philosophy of physics.

HPS 2633: Philosophy of Cognitive Science: Cognitive control, automaticity, and agency
Wayne Christensen
M 3:00pm - 5:30pm
The distinction between automatic and controlled cognitive processes took on its modern form in psychology in the 1970s, and it continues to play a foundational role in psychological theories of cognition. Recently, research on ‘cognitive control’ has made major advancements, with attention and working memory being identified as the basis of fluid intelligence. At the same time, automatic processes are proving to be more complex and sophisticated than had been previously imagined. In this course we’re going to examine cognitive and neurobiological evidence concerning the nature of cognitive control and automaticity, and explore some of the theoretical and philosophical issues for cognition and agency that it poses. This will include conceptualizations of cognitive control and automaticity, empirical methods used to investigate them, strengths and limitations of ’dual process’ theories of cognition, relations between consciousness and working memory, the role of conceptual cognition in perception and action control, reflective agency and responsibility, and the role of cognitive control in the evolution of intelligence.

HPS 2650 / PHIL 2652: Philosophy of Psychiatry
Peter K. Machamer/ Kenneth F. Schaffner
W 2:00-4:30 pm
This course will examine some of the conceptual and methodological issues, as well as several historical topics, in psychiatry. We will assess the ways in which psychiatry analyzes and proposes criteria for the definitions of psychiatric disorders and classifications, and discuss their reliability and validity. These issues will be considered in general, and also as they relate to the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association and the emerging DSM-5.1 project for updating this manual. More specifically, these topics include examining the organizing principles for psychiatric classification, existing assessment instruments, and the roles of etiological and non-etiological characterizations of disorders, including the schizophrenia model of David Lewis. The usefulness of reductive strategies and the mechanisms of disorders (including related genetic, neurocircuit, and neuroimaging research) will be reviewed. Attention will also be given to treatment, including drug and talk therapies and their relations. Our philosophical perspective is primarily analytical, however phenomenological and hermeneutical approaches will also be discussed. Historical topics will include the contrast between psychoanalytical, narrative approaches (including the Freud and Jung traditions) and biological psychiatry, and the transition of the discipline from the former to the latter. Extended consideration of examples of schizophrenia, depressive disorders, personality disorders, and Alzheimer’s dementia will be developed in the course.

HPS 2653: Models and Modeling in Science
Sandra D. Mitchell/ James F. Woodward
T 2:00-4:30 pm
There is increasing interest in conceptualizing scientific knowledge and practice in terms of scientific models. Some (Suppes, Giere, Van Fraassen) have argued for model theoretic rather than axiomatic formulations in defending a semantic account of theories. For others, models are understood in light of scientific practice, semi-autonomous from theory, or mediating between theory and observation (Morrison, Morgan). This seminar will examine recent philosophical literature on related topics including, the relation of model to theory and to observation, the nature of abstraction, idealization, analogy and isomorphism in modeling, simple or minimal models, models as fictions, and model-model relationships. We will also discuss different types of models including physical and scale models, mathematical models, and computer simulations, and hybrid or semi-empirical models. Time permitting; we will also discuss issues having to do with model confirmation, assessment, and improvement.

Fall 2015

HPS 2501 / PHIL 2600: Philosophy of Science Core
Dr. Jim Woodward
Thursday 9:30-12:00
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: Scholasticism
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
Monday 3:00-5:30
This seminar explores the intellectual movement known as European Scholasticism, comparing and contrasting its nature with the debates it spawned. Scholasticism inherited ancient Greek philosophy and recast it in the framework of Christianity, shaping a worldview that laid the philosophical foundations of Western civilization. History and philosophy of science, analytic philosophy, and higher education institutions such as the university have their roots in Scholasticism, which spanned the late Middles Ages to the end of the seventeenth century. We will investigate the scholastic origins of fundamental philosophical categories such as method, reality, essence, science, causality, demonstration, substance, order, analysis and synthesis.

HPS/PHIL 2533: Descartes
Dr. Kenneth Manders
Monday 11:00a.m.-1:30p.m.
We will look historically at Descartes' early career before 1637, emphasizing his mathematics. We will read the "Rules for the Direction of the Mind", his philosophical reflections on his research. If the English translation arrives on time, we will read Jean-Luc Marion's great essay on the Regulae, Descartes's Grey Ontology: Cartesian Science and Aristotelian Thought in the Regulae. Course requirements may be satisfied either by short papers or a research paper; there are no pre-requisites beyond graduate standing. This course is offered only once.

HPS 2555 / PHIL 2555 / CLASS 2392: Aristotle's Concept of Natural Science
Lennox, James G.
Tuesday 9:30-12:00
In Metaphysics VI.1, Aristotle distinguishes three areas of theoretical knowledge: first philosophy, natural science and mathematics. There are, however, numerous problems in trying to understand precisely how he thinks these fields are to be differentiated from each other, what sorts of investigations belong in each category, and whether each field has its own distinctive methods and principles. In HPS 2555 we will focus on ‘natural science’ (phusike epistêmê) and on questions such as the following: How does Aristotle distinguish natural science respectively from first philosophy and from mathematics? Can we determine which of the independent investigations Aristotle carried out himself fall within natural science, and how they are related to one another? (For example, how are his various animal investigations related to one another, and what is the place of those investigations in the science of nature? How should we conceive of the De anima in relationship to the science of nature? And finally what philosophical premises shape Aristotle thinking about these questions? Though the primary text we will be reading is Aristotle’s Physics (especially books I-III, V and VIII), answering the above questions will require us to look at a broad range of texts from across the corpus. We will also read Andrea Falcon’s Aristotle and the Science of Nature: Unity without Uniformity (Cambridge 2005). The course will not presuppose knowledge of classical Greek, but, for those who wish to, a reading group will be organized for the purpose of studying and discussing a selection of texts of particular importance to the course themes in the original language.

HPS 2590: Einstein 1905
Dr. John Norton
Wednesday 3:00-5:30

HPS 2634 / PHIL 2634: Topics in Cognitive Science
Dr. Edouard Machery
Tuesday 3:00-5:30
In this class, we will focus on recent topics in the philosophy of cognitive science. Possible topics include: the nature of beliefs, inner speech, introspection, imagination, and implicit attitudes. The focus will be on recent articles that have gathered attention in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science literature.

HPS 2635: Central Problems in Systems Neuroscience: How to simplify the brain
Dr. Mazviita Chirimuuta
Monday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m.
This seminar will examine philosophical issues connected to systems, cognitive and computational neuroscience. In particular we will focus on techniques (new and old) that neuroscientists have developed in order to handle the daunting complexity of neural systems, examining them in the light of the extensive philosophical literature on idealization, abstraction and minimal models. We will also look in detail at recent debates over the nature of explanation in neuroscience, comparing mechanist, dynamicist and other accounts. Examples of seminar themes are: The Neuron Doctrine; Efficient Coding Theories; Large-scale Neural Simulations; Canonical Computations and Networks.

HPS 2657 / PHIL 2657: Philosophy of Biology
Dr. Stephen A. Inkpen
M/W 10:00a.m.-11:15a.m.
Philosophy of Biology will consider methodological and conceptual issues in biology through an historical lens. Drawing on the writings of life scientists from Charles Darwin onwards as well as current philosophers of biology, we will consider the nature and structure of biological explanation, the possibility of laws in evolutionary theory, the problem of species reality and classification, the metaphorical representations of evolution and natural selection, the methods biologists use to learn about the world, whether biology is an historical or exact science, and more. It is designed for both the philosopher who can explore central epistemological and metaphysical issues in the context of biological science and for the biologist who wants to explore the conceptual foundations and presuppositions of her science. The students will read primary historical and philosophical texts, engage in discussion and write essays. The format of the course will be a combination of lecture and discussion. Combined with the undergraduate course HPS 1620/PHIL 1650.