Graduate Courses

SPRING 2022 (2224)

HPS 2103/32083 - History and Philosophy of Science Core Seminar
Dietrich, Mike/Norton, John
Wednesday 1:00p.m.-3:30p.m. CL 1008C
No course description available.

HPS 2276/32084 - Biological Complexity
Mitchell, Sandra 
Monday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m. CL 1008C

No course description available.

HPS 2356/32087 - Morality and the Mind-Brain Sciences
Woodward, James  
Monday 2:00p.m.-4:30p.m.  CL 1008C

In the past few decades there has been an explosion of empirical research on moral reasoning and decision-making. This work comes from disciplines as various as anthropology (co-operation and hierarchy among early humans), psychology, neuroscience (the neural bases of moral decision-making), economics (results from experimental games concerning co-operation, reciprocity, and altruistic behavior) and evolutionary biology. This course will explore portions of this literature, both from a philosophy of science point of view and in connection with its possible relevance to normative theory in moral philosophy. Empirical studies of moral decision-making are of great interest in their own right but also raise important methodological issues that are of concern to philosophers of the social and behavioral sciences. These issues include having to do with the operationalization of complex behaviors in a way that permits empirical testing, what can be learned from from small scale experiments, and how to deal with individual differences. At the same time, one can also ask questions like the following: to what extent do various moral theories in the philosophical literature accurately describe, as an empirical matter, people's decision-making and behavior? For example, are people in western societies mainly consequentialists, deontologists or some mixture of the two?  To what extent do people have various motives-- e.g., a concern with fairness and reciprocity that various moral theories seem to assume that they have. To what extent do people have other-regarding as opposed to self-regarding motivations at all? To what extent do people have the stable character traits assumed in virtue ethics?  Does the sharp distinction between "emotion" and "reason" sometimes assumed in contemporary philosophy make sense from a neurobiological point of view?  (Of course, we will also consider claims that how people in fact behave or what motivations they in fact have   are irrelevant to normative theory since the latter has to do with how people ought to behave, rather than how they do behave.) I encourage attendance by students interested in moral philosophy but who lack a background in the areas of science discussed. Similarly, I encourage attendance by philosophers and historians of science without a background in moral theory. Both backgrounds will be supplied.


HPS 2810/32086 - Galileo and All of That
Palmieri, Paolo
Thursday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m. CL 1008C

This seminar focuses on Galileo′s contributions to the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, including the astronomical discoveries, the physics of falling bodies, the philosophy of nature, the harmony of religion and science, the overturning of scholasticism. The seminar approaches Galileo in the broader humanistic, philosophical, mathematical and religious context of early modern Europe. His ingenious experiments marked his creative pathways towards a redefinition of science. Furthermore, the seminar traces his lasting legacy in the controversies that shaped the history and philosophy of modern science in the twentieth century. There are no prerequisites.



FALL 2021 (2221)

HPS 2101/10579 – Philosophy of Science  
(Cross Listed with PHIL 2600)
Wallace, David
W- 10:00am-12:30pm              CL1008B
This course will cover central topics in general philosophy of science, such as theory change, scientific realism, reduction and emergence, explanation, and confirmation. We will read a mixture of classic texts and more recent work.
HPS 2159/30955 – Feminist Philosophy of Science  
Dietrich, Michael
H – 2:00pm-4:30pm                CL G28
In this course, we will explore the ways that feminist philosophers of science have characterized a positive role for feminist values in scientific theory and practice. We will ask what this means for traditional accounts of science as objective and value-free and consider possible consequences of feminist arguments for how science ought to be done, and by whom. We will evaluate the consequences of these arguments for concepts of objectivity, for the structure of scientific communities, and for the authority and trustworthiness of scientific explanation. We will also consider the nature of feminist critiques of science through several examples.

HPS 2355/32186 – Cognitive and Neural Systems  
Machery, Edouard
H – 10:15am-12:45pm             CL G28

This course will examine the theoretical foundations of neuroscience, with a special focus on systems 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, network science, the Bayesian brain, dynamic representation, understanding intrinsic activity, and cognitive architecture.

HPS 2365/31109 – Animal Cognition  
Allen, Colin
M – 3:00pm-5:25pm             CL 1008C
This course will examine theoretical and methodological challenges and controversies in the scientific study of nonhuman animal cognition. Current topics will be framed by the history of psychological and ethological approaches to animal behavior, with their different and sometimes opposing concerns about general laws of learning, the importance of experimental methods, the ecological validity of laboratory and field studies, and the significance of phylogeny and ontogeny for scientific understanding of animal behavior and cognition. We will sample current work in comparative animal cognition treating topics such as concepts, communication, reasoning and rationality, episodic memory, self-awareness, imitation, mind reading, consciousness and emotions, to investigate the challenges arising from the apparent subjectivity of mental states, the danger of anthropomorphic projection by researchers, the contestable relevance of neuroscientific evidence, and the so-called "logical problem" facing experimental tests of cognitive hypotheses.
HPS 2522/26676 – Special Topics: Early Modern Women Philosophers  
Palmieri, Paolo
T – 9:30am-12:00pm                 CL 1008C
This open-platform seminar questions the presence and absence of women in early modern Europe. The seminar is student-centered and promotes intellectual emancipation. Participants are welcome from all academic fields and perspectives. We will debate women philosophers and the role of visibility, oppression, seclusion, sexuality, violence, institutional racism, colonial prejudice, and gender in marking disciplinary boundaries within philosophy… [place holder for participants’s suggestions]. Suggested examples of women in early modern philosophy and science include Virginia Galilei, Anne Conway, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Laura Bassi, Marie-Anne de Roumier-Robert, Émilie du Châtelet, Friederike Charlotte of Brandenburg-Schwedt, Clémence Royer… [place holder for participants’s suggestions]. Readings, writing and creative projects, punctuated silence, and colorful patterns of resistance are encouraged. Activism and disobedience, diversity, sexual preference, political and linguistic difference, and advocacy are welcome. There are no prerequisites.
HPS 2850/31105 – Philosophy of Gauge Theory  
Gilton, Marian
M – 9:30am-10:45am           CL1008C
W – 1:15pm-2:30pm            CL1008C
This seminar will be a careful study of the philosophy of gauge theory. Topics will include the gauge argument, the metaphysical status of properties in gauge theories, the nature of gauge symmetries and the significance of gauge freedom, and the associated difficult issue of sorting out physically significant mathematical structures from surplus structure. Students will be expected to actively engage in class discussion and critical assessments of the philosophical arguments presented in the assigned readings. However, this cannot be reasonably expected without significant study of the mathematical structures used in gauge theories. Therefore, the schedule of meetings will be arranged to provide ample time to the collaborative study the technicalities relevant to each assigned reading.