University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2017


HPS 0427 Myth and Science
Aaron Novick
W 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Cross-listed with CLASS 0330/29696. 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 11:00a.m. - 12:15p.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 0437 Darwinism and Its Critics
Dr. John Beatty
T & H 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.
In this course, we will investigate the development of evolutionary thought, paying special attention to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. To broaden our perspective, we will consider not only the scientific but also the social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical sources of Darwin’s ideas. We will also consider his influence in all these areas. The Darwinian revolution was an historical development – is an ongoing development – of wide-ranging significancee

HPS 0515 Magic, Medicine and Science
Haixin Dang
T 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m
Cross-listed with HIST 0089/19643. This course will consider some of the most important lines of thought in Western intellectual history, from the Ancient Greeks to the Scientific Revolution. We will begin briefly with ancient Greek speculations in cosmology, natural philosophy, and medicine. Then we will examine how they develop through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. These include, among other topics, the magical, alchemical, and astrological traditions that flourished from Antiquity through the 17th century. In the second half of the course will focus on the exciting intellectual transformations in 17th-century Britain and Europe, which constitute the beginnings of modern science. The great scientific achievements of figures such as Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Descartes, Boyle, and Newton will be discussed. In this course, students will gain a clear understanding of the multi-dimensional origins of modern science.

HPS 0605 Nature of the Emotions
Dr. James G. Lennox
T & H 9:30a.m.-10:45a.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 emotion, 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, Saudi Arabia, China, and Germany? The course readings will be a combination of writings by philosophers and scientists from Ancient Greece until the 21st Century.

HPS 0611 Principles of Scientific Reasoning
Siska DeBaerdemaeker
W 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.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. James F. Woodward
T & H 1:00p.m. - 2:15p.m.
Mind and Medicine deals with problems and questions that arise in considering how the mind plays certain roles in medical theory and practice. Of course, this means we must think about what the mind is. We will begin this course by looking at nature of emotions (particularly pleasure, fear, and empathy), how they might be explained, and see what role emotions play in judgments. Then we shall move on to examine briefly the placebo effect, what it is, and how it might function. From there we shall examine a case of a common mental illness, depression, and use it to examine the nature of explanation in medicine generally. We shall contrast such explanations with those given in evolutionary psychology. Finally, we will examine the some of the interrelations among certain aspects of mind, brain, and body. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in the nature of mind, medicine and psychiatry; will have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments; and have developed skills that will enable them to think clearly about some foundational 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 0613 (Morality and Medicine) but may be taken independently. The course may be of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students.

HPS 0612 Mind and Medicine
Dr. Daniel Wilkenfeld
M 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
As per above.

HPS 0612 Mind and Medicine
Dr. Jason Rampelt
H 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
As per above.

HPS 0613 Morality and Medicine
Dr. Sandra D. Mitchell
M & W 2:00p.m.-2:50p.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.
One hour recitation is required per week.

HPS 0613 Morality and Medicine-CGS
Haixin Dang
M 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.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
Jacob Neal
T 6:00p.m. -8 :30p.m.
As per above.

HPS 0613 Morality and Medicine
Nora Boyd
T 6:00p.m. -8 :30p.m.
As per above.

HPS 0621 Problem Solving: How Science Works
Shahin Kaveh
T & H 2:30p.m. - 4:45p.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 0633 Science, Philosophy & Public Policy
Zina Ward
M & W 9:30a.m.-10:45a.m.
In this course we will use the tools of history and philosophy of science to examine the complex and sometime fraught relationship between science and policy in democratic societies. In the first third of the course, we will consider how policy shapes science by discussing the allocation of scientific funding, the distinction between pure and applied science, and the challenges presented by dual-use dilemmas. In the remaining two-thirds of the course, we will focus on how science is brought to bear on policy-making. We will try to answer questions such as: should scientists participate in public policy debates? What does it mean for science to become politicized? Why does public uptake of science sometimes fail? Throughout the course we'll make use of several recent case studies related to climate science, vaccines and public health, and seismology.

HPS 1616 Artificial Intelligence and Phil of Science
Dr. Mazviita Chirimuuta
M & W 3:00p.m.-4:15p.m.
Artificial intelligence has been and still is one of the core disciplines of contemporary cognitive science. It raises fascinating questions: Can robots think? Is artificial intelligence really intelligence? Could artifacts be conscious? What can we learn about the human mind from building robots? How should intelligent robots be built? We will survey the main controversies that artificial intelligence has provoked.

HPS 1653 Introduction to Philosophy of Science
Dr. Porter Williams
M & W 1:00p.m. - 1:50p.m.
Cross-listed with PHIL 1610/17704. 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. One hour recitation required per week.

HPS 1660 Paradox
Dr. Michael Caie
M & W 4:30p.m. - 5:45p.m.
Cross-listed with PHIL 1660/26966. 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).