FALL 2021 (2221)
HPS 2101/10579 – Philosophy of Science
(Cross Listed with PHIL 2600)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
SPRING 2021 (2214)
2497 Teaching Practicum Dr. John D. Norton
2214 24343 Friday 10:00a.m.-11:00a.m.
This is a survey course designed specifically for teaching assistants and fellows. The focus will be on practical teaching methods
and technique in classroom recitations and lectures.
2502 History of Science 2-Core: Early Science of History Marian Gilton/Paolo Palmieri
2214 29199 Tuesday 9:25a.m.-11:55a.m.
This course is designed as a survey of specific movements in the history of science from antiquity to the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. Topics highlighted in this course include (but are not limited to) the emergence of Greek mathematics and calculus, Greek science and its transmission to Medieval Europe, the mathematization of physics in the seventeenth century, ancient and early modern astronomy and cosmology, Greek biology and the early modern life sciences. Most readings will be drawn from primary source materials. The specific topics treated in these survey courses vary from year-to-year and from professor-to-professor.
2563 History of Medicine Dr. Jonathan Fuller
2214 31639 Monday 9:25a.m.-11:55a.m.
This course will take an integrated history and philosophy of science approach in studying the development and nature of ‘scientific medicine’. We will read and discuss work from philosophers and historians writing about important historical moments and transitions in medical science and practice, particularly those occurring in the 1800s and 1900s
2622 Recent Topics in Philosophy of Science Dr. Robert Batterman
2214 31646 Thursday 10:00a.m-12:30p.m.
Cross-listed with PHIL 2625/31647
This class will examine a prevalent scientific methodology that has almost completely been ignored by philosophers of science. It is sometimes called a “hydrodynamic approach” to many-body systems. It focuses on properties at mesoscales in between the atomic/fundamental level and the continuum/phenomenological level. By looking at this approach we will develop a more nuanced and accurate picture of the relations between theories and models at different scales then that which is currently in favor in the philosophical literature. We will work through a new book manuscript on the topic with additional readings.
2634 Topics in Philosophy of Cognitive Science Dr. Edouard Machery
2214 31591 Tuesday 2:20p.m.-4:50p.m.
In this course we will focus on issues related to measurement in general as well as in the context of psychology. We will examine topics such as the history and philosophy of the foundations of measurement, key psychometrics concepts such as validity, the justification of psychological measurement, operationalism, the nature of quantities, and so on. Most examples will be drawn from psychological measurement or from historical case studies (e.g., temperature), but we may also look at physical examples such as time.
2667 Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics Dr. David Wallace 2214 31648 Wednesday 10:00am-12:30pm
Cross-listed with PHIL 2627/31649
We will discuss some of the central conceptual questions of modern quantum mechanics, including the quantum measurement problem, non-locality, hidden-variable theories, dynamical-collapse theories, the Everett (many-worlds) interpretation, and the metaphysics of quantum mechanics. I will not assume prior knowledge of quantum mechanics, though I will make use of mathematics at about the level of elementary calculus.
2682 Theories of Confirmation Dr. John D. Norton
2214 31638 Wednesday 2:20p.m.-4:50p.m.
Science is distinguished from other investigations of nature in that the claims of mature sciences are strongly supported by empirical evidence. Theories of confirmation provide accounts of this relation of inductive support. We shall review the range of theories of confirmation, including formal and less formal approaches. The review will be critical; none of them is entirely successful. The theories will be tested against significant cases of the use of evidence in science.
2501 Philosophy of Science (Core)
Dr. John Norton 2211 10607
Wednesday 2:20-4:45pm Lawrence 231
Cross-listed with PHIL 2600/10451
This seminar is an intensive and advanced introduction to some of the main themes and problems in philosophy of science including the nature of evidence, theory comparison, and the theory-observation distinction, the meaning of theoretical terms, scientific explanation and scientific change.
2532 History of Old Quantum Theory
Dr. Marian Gilton 2211 31719
Monday 2:20-4:45pm Lawrence 231
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 be a careful study of the historical development of quantum theory during these three decades, drawing upon both primary and secondary sources. Occasionally, special emphasis will be given to discussing the development of quantum mechanics in connection with themes in general philosophy of science (e.g. evidence, the relationship between theory and experiment, and theoretical equivalence).
2658 Philosophy of Medicine
Dr. Jonathan Fuller 2211 30852
Monday 9:25-11:55am CL G28
This seminar course provides a graduate level introduction to the philosophy of medicine, a fast-growing philosophical field. We will explore both classic and cutting-edge work. In line with the orientation of the field, we will examine metaphysical/conceptual and epistemic questions in medicine and medical research rather than the kinds of questions traditionally asked in the field of bioethics. Also following the contemporary focus of philosophy of medicine, readings are situated in the philosophy of science. The seminar will be organized around topics explored in a book-in-progress written by the instructor, tentatively titled The New Modern Medicine. The book explores features of contemporary medicine that make it philosophically interesting in a historical perspective compared with modern medicine of one hundred years ago. In most weeks, students will read a chapter draft along with other papers on that chapter’s main topic. Topics explored will include: the concept and nature of disease; disease causation and classification; cure, prevention and modeling disease; the epistemology of evidence-based medicine; the methodology of clinical trials; populations and individuals in epidemiology; medical skepticism and criticism; alternative medicine and the demarcation problem; and the medical model.
Dr. James Woodward 2211 30853
Tuesday 2:20-4:50pm Lawrence 233
Over the past several decades there has been an explosion of work on causation and causal inference. Some of this work is due to philosophers (including philosophers of science) but there have also been very important developments in other disciplines, including statistics, machine learning and econometrics. This course will survey a number of these developments. Among the issues we will discuss: 1) strategies for learning causal relations from non-experimental data, 2) strategies for finding the right variables for causal analysis, particularly in connection with complex systems in which there are causal relations at different “levels”, 3) the strengths, limitations and interrelations among various devices for representing causal relations such as Bayes nets, differential equations and so on, 4) the place of causal reasoning in various scientific disciplines, including physics. We will also attempt to connect these issues with various philosophical theories of causation that are currently influential, including counterfactual accounts, causal process accounts, and regularity theories.
2666 Artificial Intelligence and Philosophy of Science
Dr. Colin Allen 2211 31844
Wednesday 9:25-11:55am Sennott Square 5129
This course will examine developments in Artificial Intelligence (including Machine Learning) from the perspective of philosophy of science. In the first module, we will focus on acquiring or extending your technical and historical understanding of the major strands of AI/ML from the late 1950s to the present. In the second module we will consider the status of different AI/ML approaches as computational models for cognitive science. In the third module we will consider AI/ML as methods for automating scientific discovery and scientific reasoning. In the fourth and final module we will focus on the normative and value issues raised by AI/ML in various scientific and social applications.
Observation and experimentation have long been taken as central to the legitimacy of scientific claims. Richard Feynman wrote “The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific ‘truth’” (1963). But how do experiments reveal the way nature is organized? In this course we will explore a range of topics in the philosophy of experiment, including underdetermination and theory-ladenness, replicability, techniques and norms of experimental practice, convergence and divergence of experimental results, the production and use of data, the relationships between experimentation, theorizing and model-building and the new challenges of digitization and big data. This seminar will be organized as a research group where each participant will develop their own research project throughout the semester which jointly engages both the philosophical issues and particular scientific practices and results. Ongoing research reports, a final presentation of results, and an annotated bibliography will be required.