University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Courses (2009-2010)

Spring 2010

HPS 0410: Einstein: Modern Science and Surprises
Dr. John D. Norton
M & W 1-1:50 p.m.
Do astronauts age more slowly? Can a finite universe have no edge? Is time travel possible? Can time have a beginning? Does the moon change because a mouse looks at it? Surprisingly, modern science answers yes to all these questions. This course provides simple-to-understand explanations of these and other related questions, their broader philosophical significance and their histories. The course is suitable for students with no science background but with an interest in the world of modern science.

HPS 0427 / CLASS 0330: Myth and Science
Jonah Schupbach
W 6-8:30p.m.
How can we understand our world? In western culture, science dominates all our answers to this question. But there are other ways. They can be found in the mythologies of ancient and modern peoples. This course will compare the scientific and mythological ways of seeing the world and their more subtle connections. In particular, we will turn to the remarkable events in Ancient Greece of 800-400 B.C. and discover how the scientific approach actually grew slowly out of mythological thought itself.


HPS 0515 / HIST 0089: Magic, Medicine and Science
Peter Distelzweig
H 6-8:30p.m.
This course is a partial survey of some important strands in the Western intellectual history. We will start with ancient Greek speculations in cosmology, philosophy, and medicine. Then we will look at some important subsequent developments in these areas and how they were influenced by the Greek tradition. These include, among other topics, the magical tradition that flourished during the Renaissance period. The latter half of the course will focus on the profound intellectual transformations in the 17th century which constitute what we often call The Scientific Revolution. The great scientific achievements of figures such as Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton will be discussed in detail. Overall, this course is meant to provide a broad picture of some of the most important elements in the Western intellectual tradition and their interactions in history.

HPS 0515 / HIST 0089: Magic, Medicine and Science
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
M & W noon-12:50 p.m.
In this course, we investigate human experience as it is reflected in the practices of magic, medicine, and science. We explore both the historical and philosophical dimensions of magic, medicine, and science, and learn about their striking similarities and differences.
Recitation: One hour a week.

HPS 0610: Causal Reasoning (Web Based)
Jonathan Livengood
H 6-8:30 p.m.
Do school vouchers really help inner city students become better educated? Do gun control laws really make society safer? This course examines how scientists reason about causal claims like these. It considers use of scientific statistical data that informs our public policy debates. The course uses an interactive, web-based text and exams. In addition, there is an on-line virtual "Causality Lab" in which students will set up, run, and then analyze simulated experiments. They will construct causal theories, use the lab to derive predictions from these theories, and then test the predictions against the simulated data. While course materials are delivered on-line, students will still attend two sessions per week; one for addressing questions about the material and the second for case study analysis.

HPS 0612: Mind and Medicine
Dr. Edouard Machery
M & W 2-2:50 p.m.
This course is designed as an introduction to the philosophical issues that exist at the intersection of psychology and medicine. Among others, we will examine the following questions: What does it mean to be healthy? Can one define health and sickness purely objectively? Should human medical judgments (e.g., clinicians’ judgments) be replaced by purely automatic, computerized procedures? What is the nature of medical expertise? Are medical judgments influenced by various biases and can these biases be overcome? Are psychiatric disorders real? How should scientists explain psychiatric disorders? How much do we learn about them by studying animals (e.g., rats)? Can evolutionary biology be useful to psychiatry? The goal of this class is to provide students with a critical understanding of these philosophical issues. Previous knowledge of biology, psychology, and medicine is not needed for this class. Key notions and theories in these fields will be introduced progressively. There are no formal prerequisites for this course. This course is part of a core sequence leading to certification in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine Program, and is a companion course to HPS 0613 (Morality and Medicine) but may be taken independently. This course is of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students. Recitation: One hour a week.

HPS 0613: Morality and Medicine (Saturday)
Bryan Roberts
Saturday 12:30-2:55 p.m.
Ethical dilemmas in the practice of health care continue to proliferate and receive increasing attention from members of the health care profession, ethicists, policy makers, and the general public as health care consumers. In this course we will examine a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of contemporary medical practice and research by analyzing articles and decision scenarios. Topics to be covered typically include the physician-patient relationship; informed consent; medical experimentation; termination of treatment; genetics; reproductive technologies; euthanasia; resource allocation; and health care reform. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in medical ethics; have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments; and have developed skills that will enable them to think clearly about ethical questions as future or current health care providers, policy makers, and consumers. This course is part of a core sequence leading to certification in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine Certificate Program, and is a companion course to HPS 0612 (Mind and Medicine) but may be taken independently. The course is of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students.

HPS 0620: Science and Religion
Benjamin Goldberg
T&H 1-2:15 p.m.
The interaction between religion and science in the Western world is a long and complicated one. And it has by no means merely been one of hindrance and mutual antagonism, though there certainly has been plenty of that! The purpose of this course is to explore and attempt to understand some of this history in order to gain a better understanding of both of these very human activities, past and present.

HPS 0621: Problem Solving
Thomas Pashby
T 3-5:30 p.m.
A scientist announces that the sun contains a new, so-far unknown chemical element, even though there is no hope of getting a sample. Another is sure that a famous predecessor has faked his data, even though he has seen nothing but the perfect, published results. Astonishingly, both claims prove to be sober and sound. We will explore the approaches and methods that make such miracles part of the routine of everyday science. This course is intended for students with little or no background in science.

HPS 1508: Classics in History of Science
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
T & H 9:30-10:45 p.m.
Four hundred years ago Galileo Galilei aimed a telescope at the sky. He revolutionized astronomy. Equally revolutionary were his theories and experiments in physics, published in his masterpiece Two New Sciences. In this course we will learn why Galileo's theories and experiments in physics were revolutionary. We will read Galileo's Two New Sciences, setting it in the context of the history and philosophy of Western science and civilization. There are no prerequisites.

HPS 1612 / PHIL 1612: Philosophy of 20th Century Physics
Balazs Gyenis
T & H 4-5:15 p.m.
The first part of this course will sample philosophical issues surrounding relativity theory. These issues include the nature of space-time theories, the conventionality of simultaneity, and the openness of the future; we will also discuss the physical possibility of time travel in relativistic spacetimes. The second part of this course is meant as an introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics. Our goal will be to understand what an interpretation of quantum mechanics is and why anyone would want one. We will also explore interpretations historically proposed, and the frailties to which they are prone. A theme linking both parts of the course is the question of physical determinism. While some background in physics would be useful for this course, it is not essential. For as we go, we will study the formalisms relevant to the philosophical questions we'd like to pose.

HPS 1660 / PHIL 1660: Paradox
Dr. John S. Earman
T & H 2:30-3:45 p.m.
In this course we will explore paradoxes both for the fun of untangling intriguing puzzles and for the more serious reason of the easy access paradoxes provide to some of the most important foundations issues in philosophy, logic, mathematics, and the sciences. Examples: Zeno’s paradoxes of motion and paradoxes of supertasks; paradoxes of infinity; the liar paradox; paradoxes of time travel; paradoxes of rationality (the surprise exam paradox, the ravens paradox); paradoxes of decision (Newcomb’s paradox, the prisoners’ dilemma).

HPS 1702: JR/SR Seminar: Scientific Reduction and the” End of Philosophy”
Dr. Peter K. Machamer
T 5-7:30 p.m.
Recently many practitioners of various sciences (and some philosophers) have made claims about the ability of science (in some form) to answer traditional philosophical questions. Such questions include the problem of free will, moral or ethical responsibility, rational judgments, the role of emotions, and the nature of values. The form these answers take are generally attempts to reduce the philosophical claims to cognitive neuroscientific, biological, or evolutionary bases. This approach has become so popular that on April 7, 2009, Op-Ed columnist David Brooks wrote a piece in the New York Times called "The End of Philosophy." (Check it out online.)

This seminar will examine the nature of reduction and reactions to it, and then look specifically at a number of articles and book chapters that claim scientific success for solving old philosophical puzzles. We shall use these studies to raise questions about the nature and limits of scientific explanation. This course is for HPS major in their junior or senior year.

HPS 1703: Writing Workshop for HPS Majors
Dr. Peter K. Machamer
T 5-7:30 p.m.
This writing workshop is designed to introduce HPS majors to the methods and standards of good scholarly writing in History and Philosophy of Science. It will be offered to HPS majors only in conjunction with HPS 1702, JR/SR Seminar. Evaluation will be based on two short papers that will be rewritten on the basis of the instructor's comments. This course is for HPS majors in their junior or senior year.

Fall 2009

HPS 0427 / CLASS 0330: Myth and Science
Schupbach, Jonah
Tuesday 6-8:30 p.m.
How can we understand our world? In Western culture, science dominates all our answers to this question. But there are other ways. They can be found in the mythologies of ancient and modern peoples. This course will compare the scientific and mythological ways of seeing the world and their more subtle connections. In particular, we will turn to the remarkable events in Ancient Greece of 800-400 B.C. and discover how the scientific approach actually grew slowly out of mythological thought itself.

HPS 0437: Darwinism and its Critics
Lennox, James G.
M & W 10-10:50 p.m.
Charles Darwin's ideas not only revolutionized biology - they also have revolutionary implications for how we see ourselves and our place in nature. We will study the origins and development of Darwin's ideas, and the reactions of the scientific, religious and philosophic community to them from Darwin's time to our own. The course revolves around two central questions: (1) What is the scientific status of Darwinism? (2) What are the implications of Darwinism for our beliefs about human nature? We will spend the last few weeks of the term looking in detail at a variety of contemporary critics of Darwinism.

HPS 0515 / HIST 0089: Magic, Medicine and Science
Distelzweig, Peter
Wednesday 6-8:30 p.m.
This course is a partial survey of some important strands in the Western intellectual history. We will start with ancient Greek speculations in cosmology, philosophy, and medicine. Then we will look at some important subsequent developments in these areas and how they were influenced by the Greek tradition. These include, among other topics, the magical tradition that flourished during the Renaissance period. The latter half of the course will focus on the profound intellectual transformations in the 17th century which constitute what we often call The Scientific Revolution. The great scientific achievements of figures such as Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton will be discussed in detail. Overall, this course is meant to provide a broad picture of some of the most important elements in the Western intellectual tradition and their interactions in history.

HPS 0515 / HIST 0089: Magic, Medicine and Science
Goldberg, Benny
Monday noon-2:30 p.m.
This course is a partial survey of some important strands in the Western intellectual history. We will start with ancient Greek speculations in cosmology, philosophy, and medicine. Then we will look at some important subsequent developments in these areas and how they were influenced by the Greek tradition. These include, among other topics, the magical tradition that flourished during the Renaissance period. The latter half of the course will focus on the profound intellectual transformations in the 17th century which constitute what we often call The Scientific Revolution. The great scientific achievements of figures such as Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton will be discussed in detail. Overall, this course is meant to provide a broad picture of some of the most important elements in the Western intellectual tradition and their interactions in history.

HPS 0605: Nature of Emotions
Dr. Edouard Machery
M & W 11-11:50 a.m.
This course will examine selected historically important theories and portrayals of the human emotions or passions. The course will examine different accounts of love, hate, desire, anger, jealousy, pride, grief, etc. It will look at how philosophers and scientists have portrayed the relationship between emotions and reason, control, the will, decorum, and morality. A number of questions will guide the readings and discussions. Which emotions or passions are primitive? In what are the emotions grounded: the body, the mind, the spirit? Can these even be usefully distinguished? What is the structure of human emotions and how do they function? What are the relations among emotions, personality types and behavior? Can one learn to recognize emotions, control emotions, change the way emotions affect behavior? How can one test or validate theories about emotions? And finally, since theories and beliefs about human emotions change over time and from culture to culture, does this mean that the nature of, say, anger, has changes as well? The course will rely mostly on primary source material, written by persons who have had a recognized intellectual and social impact.

HPS 0611: Principles of Scientific Reasoning
Roberts, Bryan
M 6-8:30 p.m.
The course will provide students with elementary logic skills and an understanding of scientific arguments. Ours is an increasingly scientific and technical society. In both our personal life decisions and in our work we are daily confronted by scientific results which influence what we do and how we do it. Basic skills in analyzing the structure of arguments in terms of truth and evidence are required to make this type of information accessible and useful. We hear, for example, that drinking alcoholic beverages reduces the chances of heart disease. We might well ask what sorts of tests were done to reach this conclusion and do the tests really justify the claim? We read that certain geographical configurations in South America "prove" that this planet was visited by aliens from outer space. Does this argument differ from other, accepted scientific arguments? This course is designed to aid the student in making sense of a variety of elementary logic skills in conjunction with the application of those skills to actual cases.

HPS 0613: Morality and Medicine
Mitchell, Sandra D.
M & W 1-1:50 p.m.
Ethical dilemmas in the practice of health care continue to proliferate and receive increasing attention from members of the health care profession, ethicists, policy makers, and the general public as health care consumers. In this course we will examine a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of contemporary medical practice and research by analyzing articles and decision scenarios. Topics to be covered typically include the physician-patient relationship; informed consent; medical experimentation; termination of treatment; genetics; reproductive technologies; euthanasia; resource allocation; and health care reform. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in medical ethics; have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments; and have developed skills that will enable them to think clearly about ethical questions as future or current health care providers, policy makers, and consumers This course is also part of a core sequence leading to certification in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine Certificate Program, and is a companion course to HPS 0612 (Mind and Medicine) but may be taken independently. The course is of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students. Recitation: One hour a week.

HPS 0613: Morality and Medicine
Lebing, William
T 6-8:30 p.m.
Ethical dilemmas in the practice of health care continue to proliferate and receive increasing attention from members of the health care profession, ethicists, policy makers, and the general public as health care consumers. In this course we will examine a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of contemporary medical practice and research by analyzing articles and decision scenarios. Topics to be covered typically include the physician-patient relationship; informed consent; medical experimentation; termination of treatment; genetics; reproductive technologies; euthanasia; resource allocation; and health care reform. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in medical ethics; have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments; and have developed skills that will enable them to think clearly about ethical questions as future or current health care providers, policy makers, and consumers. This course is part of a core sequence leading to certification in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine Certificate Program, and is a companion course to HPS 0612 (Mind and Medicine) but may be taken independently. The course is of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students.

HPS 0613: Morality and Medicine – Saturday Class
Livengood, Jonathan
Saturday noon-3 p.m.
Ethical dilemmas in the practice of health care continue to proliferate and receive increasing attention from members of the health care profession, ethicists, policy makers, and the general public as health care consumers. In this course we will examine a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of contemporary medical practice and research by analyzing articles and decision scenarios. Topics to be covered typically include the physician-patient relationship; informed consent; medical experimentation; termination of treatment; genetics; reproductive technologies; euthanasia; resource allocation; and health care reform. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in medical ethics; have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments; and have developed skills that will enable them to think clearly about ethical questions as future or current health care providers, policy makers, and consumers. This course is part of a core sequence leading to certification in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine Certificate Program, and is a companion course to HPS 0612 (Mind and Medicine) but may be taken independently. The course is of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students.

HPS 0621: Problem Solving
Gyenis, Balazs
H 6-8:30 p.m.
A scientist announces that the sun contains a new, so-far unknown chemical element, even though there is no hope of getting a sample. Another is sure that a famous predecessor has faked his data, even though he has seen nothing but the perfect, published results. Astonishingly, both claims prove to be sober and sound. We will explore the approaches and methods that make such miracles part of the routine of everyday science. This course is intended for students with little or no background in science.

HPS 0621: Problem Solving
Pashby, Thomas
T & H 1-2:15 p.m.
A scientist announces that the sun contains a new, so-far unknown chemical element, even though there is no hope of getting a sample. Another is sure that a famous predecessor has faked his data, even though he has seen nothing but the perfect, published results. Astonishingly, both claims prove to be sober and sound. We will explore the approaches and methods that make such miracles part of the routine of everyday science. This course is intended for students with little or no background in science.

HPS 1605: Aesthetics and Science
Machamer, Peter K.
T & H 4-5:15 p.m.
What are the experiences that make up our appreciation of literature, painting or music? Does knowing about a work of art preclude really appreciating it? Is there a peculiar aesthetic experience? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Is smut? This course examines certain psychological and social aspects of human perception and thought as they relate to various arts. We will deal with how the psychological processes of perception and cognition can help us understand men's peculiar attraction to artworks. Is there a specific cultural or social dimension to works of art? Can we explain why humans react to and evaluate the works they do? How much is emotion? How much understanding? Movies, television, literature, painting, music and poetry will be examined, as well as the concepts of metaphor, interpretation and artistic style.

HPS 1653 / PHIL 1610: Introduction to Philosophy of Science
Massimi, Michela
M & W noon-12:50 p.m.
The aim of this course is to provide a broad survey of some fundamental questions in philosophy of science, and to cultivate your ability to think through these difficult questions in a clear and critical way. The course is divided in three main parts. In the first part, we explore the questions: “What is science? Is there a valid scientific method?” We tackle these questions by looking at the problem of induction, some classic answers to it, and following developments in confirmation theory. In part two, we investigate the questions: “Is science aiming at truth? Or does it only aim at saving the phenomena?” We critically assess three main philosophical views surrounding this issue. Finally, in part three, we concentrate on more specific questions such as: “What is a scientific explanation?”, and “What is a law of nature?” We look, once again, at both traditional answers and more recent attempts to answer those challenging questions.

HPS 1682 / PHIL 1682: Freedom and Determination
Boxer, Karen
M & W 4:30-5:45 p.m.
The free will debate is as old as philosophy itself; despite this, it is no closer to resolution today than it was 2,500 years ago. This course will examine some of the central questions in that debate: Is free will compatible with determinism? Does it require the ability to have done otherwise than what we actually did? How are we to understand this ability? Must we be the ultimate sources of our own actions? Is this notion even coherent? If not, where does this leave us? Related questions concerning the topic of moral responsibility will also be explored.