University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Courses

Spring 2018


HPS 0427 Myth and Science
Dr. Jason Rampelt
T & H 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.
Cross-listed with CLASS 0330/26452. Some of the oldest written texts reveal that humans have always told stories to explain the world around them. When those stories are ancient, we call them myths; when they are recent, we call them science. This course will examine primary source texts from ancient Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations through the Greeks to about the 4th century BC. Authors studied will include the Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, as well as several authors in astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, including Euclid, Archimedes, and the Hippocratic texts. Key questions addressed: How have concepts of the cosmos changed through the period studied? What is the difference between myth and science? What is the place of divinity in past and present thinking? What roles do history and culture play in conceptions of the natural world?.

HPS 0515 Magic, Medicine and Science
Dr. Daniel Wilkenfeld
H 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Cross-listed with HIST 0089/11558. 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 Magic, Medicine and Science
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
M & W 11:00a.m. - 11:50a.m.
Cross-listed with HIST 0089/23238. Science is the result of a long process of formation starting in Antiquity and culminating in the late seventeenth century with the so-called Scientific Revolution. Before the Scientific Revolution science, magic, and medicine were strongly related. This course examines the historical processes by which science became an independent sphere of human endeavour in the Western world. Recitation: One hour a week

HPS 0545 Space-Time-Matter: Antique-20th Century
Siska de Baerdermaeker
M 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Ever since the ancients first looked up at the sky, people have asked themselves questions: what are stars made of? Is the universe infinite? Does the evolution of the universe have a beginning or end, or is it eternal? The nature of the universe has been subject to human theorizing throughout history, and these theories have held a central place in the physical sciences. This course is an introduction to the history of cosmology in the West from antiquity to the present day. We will investigate how models of the universe evolved from ancient Greece, through the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century and the introduction of general relativity in the early 20th century, and into today. This historical survey will inform philosophical reflections, for example on the nature of space and time, and how these view informed thinking about the universe throughout history. This course is suitable for science and non-science majors.

HPS 0610 Causal Reasoning
Dr. Porter Williams
T & H 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.
How can scientists, statisticians, and other researchers distinguish causal relationships from those that are merely correlational?  Why is this distinction important for medical research, public policy, and decision-making in everyday life?  This course examines these questions and reasoning about causality in general. This course includes a web-based format for the textual material, exams, and virtual "Causality Lab." Students will use this lab to analyze simulated experiments, construct causal theories, derive predictions from these theories, and test predictions against simulated data. While the course materials are available on-line, students attend a weekly session for case study analysis and course material review.

HPS 0611 Principles of Scientific Reasoning
Shahin Kaveh
W 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
The course will provide students with elementary logic skills and an understanding of scientific arguments. Our society and the world around us are increasingly influenced by scientific findings. From medicine to technology to government policy, scientific reasoning plays a prominent role both in understanding the problems faced by human beings and in finding solutions to them. Scientific reasoning is often crucial to understanding what causes the issue and what interventions are effective. 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 hear disputes about what causes poverty or outcome disparity among different groups in society, but we rarely hear evidence-based arguments for or against those claims. In this course we will learn how these questions can be addressed systematically through scientific reasoning and decided by empirical evidence. Each week we will learn about a method or a possible source of error / bias in scientific reasoning. We will then apply what we learned to an issue of interest to contemporary society, and ask how these questions can be answered scientifically.
Note: This course will address potentially sensitive issues.

HPS 0612 Mind and Medicine
Dr. James F. Woodward
M & W 1:00p.m. - 1:50p.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? Or does the notion of disease involve value judgments of various sorts? What does it mean to say that a disease is “genetic”? Are diseases always best explained by appealing to lower-level biological details such as genetics and biochemistry? What does it mean to biological “mechanisms” in explaining disease? Should human medical judgments (e.g., clinicians’ judgments) be replaced by purely automatic computerized procedures? Are medical judgments influenced by various biases and can these biases be overcome? Are psychiatric disorders real? How should Scientists best explain psychiatric disorders? 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 0612 Mind and Medicine
Nora Boyd
H 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.

HPS 0612 Mind and Medicine
Jacob Neal
M & W 9:30a.m. - 10:45a.m.

HPS 0613 Morality and Medicine
Zina Ward
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
Haixin Dang
T 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.

HPS 0613 Morality and Medicine - CGS
Haixin Dang
W 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.

HPS 0620 Science and Religion
Brock Bahler
T & H 1:00p.m. - 2:15p.m.
Cross-listed with RELGST 1770/27755 & PHIL 1840/27756 Are science and religion at odds with each other? Are they complementary and harmonizable? Or do they represent completely separate domains of human inquiry? In this course, we examine the relations between science, rationality, and technology, on the one hand, and faith, religion, and religious texts, on the other, and examine how these questions have been answered throughout history, particularly in the Western monotheist faiths (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam). Special attention will be given to the interpretation of creation accounts in the ancient world, views toward science and medicine in the Middle Ages, the scientific revolution, and various religious approaches to evolutionary theory. We will also consider the relationship on practical, contemporary issues such as racism and science, neuroscience and religious practice, as well as ecology and faith. Some of the guiding themes that will shape our discussion include the compatibility of religion and science throughout history, the possible mutual benefits between the respective discourses, and what role religious communities play (and have played) in scientific and environmental concerns.

HPS 0621 Problem Solving: How Science Works
Dr. Daniel Wilkenfeld
T & H 9:30a.m. - 10:45a.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: How Science Works
Dr. Daniel Wilkenfeld
M & W 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.

HPS 0626 Development of Modern Biology
Dr. Michael Dietrich
T & H 12:00p.m. - 1:15p.m.
This course will consider major episodes in the history of biology in the 19th and 20th centuries. Beginning with the Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and ending with contemporary genomics, we will place the major milestones of modern biology in their wider social, political, and cultural context. Topics may include Darwinism and its controversial reception, eugenics and the control of heredity, experimentation as a hallmark of twentieth century biology, the impact of molecular biology, the development of cloning and reproductive biology, and the rise of genomics and big data in biology.

HPS 0630 Science and Pseudoscience
Aaron Novick
T 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
This course is a philosophical exploration of the nature of science. What is the difference between genuine science and merely pretend science, or pseudoscience? We will consider both classic philosophical work on the problem of demarcating science from pseudoscience, as well as a number of case studies of particular alleged pseudosciences. Cases may include, but are not limited to, paranormal phenomena, Lysenkoism, scientific creationism, Velikovskian catastrophism, and alchemy.

HPS 1508 Classics in History of Science
Dr. James G. Lennox
T & H 9:30a.m. - 10:45a.m.
In the 17th century, William Harvey revolutionized our understanding of the movement of the heart and blood, and declared “Aristotle is my leader…”. Approximately two centuries later, Charles Darwin revolutionized the scientific study of life with his theory of evolution by natural selection and declared: “Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in very different ways, but they were mere school boys to old Aristotle.” In HPS 1508 we will begin by looking back, as these two giants did, to the very origins of the scientific study of life, Aristotle, to learn what it was that so impressed Harvey and Darwin. We will then study Harvey’s great work on the movement of the heart and blood in animals with the following question in mind: how could one of the great experimentalists of the scientific revolution consider himself a follower of Aristotle? And finally, we will turn to On the Origin of Species, the great work in which Darwin presented his ‘long argument’ for the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. Throughout we will be look for continuity as well as innovation in the history of the sciences of life.

HPS 1623 Death, & Healthcare Profession-UHC
Dr. Jonathan Weinkle
H 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Cross-listed with RELGST 1725/25762. The American culture of the 20th and 21st centuries has been called not death-defying, but death-denying. It is often said that America is the only place in the world that treats death as optional. Once upon a time, we could not have open, public conversations about breast cancer, because the word could not be uttered aloud. In many places, it is just as hard today to have an open, public conversation about death and dying. This phenomenon is not just a social more; it affects the practice of many professions and entire segments of our economy and society. This course explores our individual and cultural reactions to mortality, religious ideas about death, the ways in which dying in today’s America is different from dying throughout history or elsewhere in the world, and the responses of a variety of professions, both within the field of healthcare and beyond, to their encounters with people in the various stages of dying. Students will be asked, at turns, to be scientific, philosophical, clinical, analytical, and emotional in encountering the concepts and material presented here. This should be a true interdisciplinary experience.

HPS 1682 Freedom & Determinism
Dr. Erica Shumener
T 6:00p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Cross-listed with PHIL 1682/27763. This course will examine some of the central questions in the free will 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.

HPS 1702 JR/SR Seminar for HPS Majors
Dr. John D. Norton
W 1:00p.m. - 3:45p.m.
This is a "capstone" course for undergraduate majors in history and philosophy of science, intended to round out a major's studies in the field. We will review some core issues in philosophy of science, relating them to episodes in history of science. Seminar members will be led through the process of developing similar case studies of their own. This seminar is for HPS Undergraduate Majors in their Junior or Senior Year. Prerequisites: Must be an HPS major in junior or senior year.

HPS 1703 Writing Workshop for HPS Majors
Dr. John D. Norton
W 1:00p.m. - 3:45p.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 Writing Workshop is for HPS Undergrad Majors in Junior or Senior Year..

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).