University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Courses (2010-2011)

Spring 2011

HPS 0427 / CLASS 0330: Myth and Science
Yoichi Ishida
W 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
Dr. James G. Lennox
M & W 2-2:50 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
Eric Hatleback
Th 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
Dr. Peter K. Machamer
M & W 12-12:50 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 0545: Space, Time, Matter
Dr. Wayne C. Myrvold
T & Th 2:30-3:45 p.m.
This course, suitable for both science and non-science students, is an introduction to the history of conceptions of the physical universe and their transformations from ancient times to the present day. We will focus in particular on conceptions of space, time, motion, and how they were transformed during the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century, and again by modern physics in the 20th.

HPS 0610: Causal Reasoning
Karen Zwier
Th 6-8:30 p.m.
Newspapers sometimes report on "studies" addressing causal questions. Topics range from what causes global warming, to what causes heart disease, to whether the death penalty deters criminals, to whether playing violent video games causes aggression, to whether school vouchers improve achievement, etc. These studies not only make their way into your newspaper, they ultimately affect public policy. In order to make rational decisions about your own life, and about matters of social policy, you must be able to assess critically--even if informally--the causal and statistical reasoning used in these reports. This course aims to provide you with the knowledge and skill to do just that. It contains the concepts with which to understand, at least on a qualitative level, the scientific reasoning that underlies the "studies" that shape our social policies. The course uses an interactive, web-based text and exams. In addition, there is an on-line virtual "Causality Lab" in which you will set up, run, and then analyze simulated experiments. You 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, there is one class session each week.

HPS 0611: Principles of Scientific Reasoning
Leah Henderson
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 0612: Mind and Medicine
Dr. Edouard Machery
M & W 1-1:50 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. Prerequisites: 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
Thomas Cunningham
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 1508: Classics in History of Science
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
T & Th 1-2:15 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. Special permission from the instructor or the department is required to register for this course. Ask your advisor. This is an honors section of a course. Permission to register must be obtained from the University Honors College, 3600 Cathedral of Learning.

HPS 1620 / PHIL 1650: Philosophy of Biology
Dr. Sandra Mitchell
T & W 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Philosophy of Biology will consider foundational conceptual issues in biology like the nature and structure of biological explanation, the possibility of laws in evolutionary theory, the relationship between different causal components of biological processes (genetics and development), the problem of species reality and classification, the explanatory character of ascription of biological function, and the extension of biological explanations to human psychology and culture. 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.

HPS 1690 / PHIL 1690: Topics in Philosophy of Science
Dr. Giovanni Valente
M & W 4:30-5:45 a.m.

The birth of quantum mechanics at the eve of the twentieth century marked a revolution in our classical understanding of the physical world. Such a theory successfully accounts for the phenomena taking place at the microscopic level. Yet, what the theory tells us about fundamental reality is still far from clear. This course focuses on the philosophical problem arising from quantum mechanics. In particular, we shall discuss various interpretations of the theory. Particular emphasis will be given to the issue of non-locality arising from the notion of entanglement, which is responsible for some surprising phenomena, such as quantum teleportation.

HPS 1702: Junior/Senior Seminar: Empirical Foundations of Ethics
Dr. James Woodward
W 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.

This course will explore a number of empirical issues that underlie various philosophical approaches to ethics and political philosophy. The guiding theme will be that various traditional philosophical theories of right and wrong - theories associated with philosophers like Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Locke, and Rawls - have empirical presuppositions that are rarely clearly articulated or systematically assessed. Doing so can help us to choose among competing moral theories. Among the issues we will consider are the following: What is the role of self-interest in human behavior? Do people sometimes behave altruistically and if so, under what circumstances? If people have altruistic preferences, what form do they take? To what extent are people willing to share resources and to co-operate? When they do so, does this reflect a concern for fairness or just sophisticated self-interest? When people do behave fairly, do philosophical theories of justice and fairness accurately describe how they behave? Under what conditions, if any, could non –self-interested behavior evolve? What roles do reasoning and the emotions play in moral decisions and behavior? What role do sympathy and empathy play? What role do anger and indignation play? What is known about the neural structures that underlie moral judgment and behavior? What are the implications of such neurobiological for the assessment of traditional moral theories? We will use readings from philosophy, psychology, neurobiology, evolutionary biology, and economics to explore these questions. This course is for only HPS Majors in their Junior or Senior Year.

HPS 1703: Writing Workshop for HPS Majors
Dr. James Woodward
W 9:30 a.m. - 12 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.

HPS 1800: Special Topics in History and Philosophy of Science: History and Philosophy of Medicine
Dr. Charles T. Wolfe
T 2-4:30 p.m.

This course traces the history of concepts of health and disease in Western culture and the institutional, social, and cultural contexts in which they developed, with attention paid to the philosophical dimension (whether the figure of the doctor as philosopher in older times, or the philosophy of medicine as a new field in the 20th century). Medicine is and was not a monolithic ‘thing’, always one and the same (or an ever-improving stable entity). After an introduction devoted to the historical perspective on health and medicine, the course is divided into three main segments: medicine in the ancient and medieval eras, classical (‘early modern’) European medicine, and modern Western medicine, commonly held to begin in the 19th century. In each of these sections of the course, we will study a combination of theories, practices and contexts – from diseases to ideas to institutions. The balance of coverage between medical thought and medical practice will vary depending on the state of historical knowledge of the given period. The last segments of the course look at different perspectives on medicine, no longer just historical: from the cultural to the social, and the philosophical, including much-debated concepts such as ‘normality’, ‘health’ and ‘embodiment’. Texts include primary sources such as Hippocrates, Galen, Harvey, Willis, La Mettrie and Claude Bernard, and secondary sources which approach the history of medicine from various contexts including philosophy, methodology, and sociocultural context.

Fall 2010

HPS 0427 / CLASS 0330: Myth and Science
Julia Bursten
T 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 0430: Galileo & Creation of Modern Science
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
T & H 9:30-10:45 a.m.
The Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was the decisive figure in the rise of modern science. First, he ushered in a new era in astronomy when he aimed a 30-powered telescope at the sky in 1610. Second, he revolutionized the concept of science when he argued that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. Finally, he astounded the theologians, who eventually condemned him to life imprisonment, when he claimed that the scientist's search for the truth cannot be constrained by religious authority. This course will study Galileo in the broader intellectual, social, and religious context of early modern Europe.

HPS 0515 / HIST 0089: Magic, Medicine and Science
Eric Hatleback
H 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 0605: Nature of Emotions
Dr. James G. Lennox
M & W 12-12:50 p.m.
This course is a historical and philosophical examination of theories and portrayals of the emotions. We will examine different philosophical and scientific accounts of such emotions as love, hate, desire, anger, jealousy, pride and grief, and the historical development of those accounts. A number of questions will guide our readings and discussions. How have philosophers and scientists portrayed the relationship between emotions, and reason, will and morality. In what aspect or aspects of human nature are the emotions grounded—the body, the mind, or both? How are the emotions related to personality and behavior? Can one examine one’s emotions and control them, or change the way the emotions affect our behavior? Can philosophical and scientific theories about the emotions be tested and validated? And since beliefs about emotions change throughout history, and also from culture to culture, does this imply the emotions change as well? Does love, for example, have the same meaning in Ancient Greece, Medieval England, and modern day America; or in modern day America, Saudia Arabia, China, and Germany? The course readings will be a combination of writings by the most philosophers and scientists from Aristotle and Plato to contemporary neuro-scientists and philosophers.
Recitation: One hour a week.

HPS 0611: Principles of Scientific Reasoning
Yoichi Ishida
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
Dr. Peter K. Machamer
M & W 2-2:50 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 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 0621: Problem Solving
Karen Zwier
T 6-8:30 p.m.
This course is intended to provide an introduction to science and scientific thinking for students who have not had much contact with science. Its goal is to explain what is distinctive about the scientific approach and its product, scientific theories. The emphasis will be on quantitative approaches and on showing how the use of number in science greatly extends the reach of our investigative tools. The course is divided into three parts: (1) A general inquiry into the problems scientists face in their investigations of nature and the techniques commonly used to overcome them; (2) An introduction to the science of thermodynamics as an example of how theories are constructed and can be applied to practical situations in real life; and (3) An introduction to statistical analysis and its uses in dealing with scientific data.

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 that have been 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 1653 / PHIL 1610: Introduction to Philosophy of Science
Dr. Edouard Machery
M & W 11-11:50 p.m.
This course explores the principal ways in which scientific knowledge is attained in the natural sciences and in the behavioral/social sciences, and it examines fundamental philosophical questions concerning the reliability and limits of scientific understanding. The major topics of discussion include: Explanation, confirmation, realism and the nature of theories, the growth of scientific knowledge, space and time, and causality and determinism.

HPS 1682 / PHIL 1682: Freedom and Determination
Dr. Karen Boxer
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 2500 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.