FALL 2022 (2231)
HPS 2101/10537 - Philosophy of Science Core Seminar
Tuesday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m. CL 1008B
This seminar is an intensive and advanced introduction to some of the main themes and problems in philosophy of science including the nature of evidence, theory comparison, and the theory-observation distinction, the meaning of theoretical terms, scientific explanation and scientific change.
HPS 2160/30455 – Science and Values
Thursday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m. CL 1008C
This course will examine values as they appear in scientific reasoning and practice. It will deal with issues such as the distinction between cognitive and social values, and how values enter into the selection of theories and research projects, and their subsequent applications. It will also take up the ethical assumptions and implications of scientific judgments and policy decisions.
HPS 2233/30456 - Modern Evolutionary Biology
Thursday 2:00p.m.-4:30p.m. CL 1008C
This seminar will take a project-based approach to the history of evolutionary biology. Starting with archival records of the Committee on Common Problems in Genetics, Paleontology and Systematics, we will develop a set of historical projects on the transformation of evolutionary biology in the mid and late twentieth century. This course will emphasize instruction on a range of historical methods that are broadly applicable to other history of science projects.
HPS 2278/30458 - Race: History, Biology, Psychology, and Philosophy
Tuesday 2:00p.m.-4:30p.m. CL 1008C
This seminar will critically examine the intersection of race and science from a number of different disciplinary perspectives. Topics may include philosophical reflection on the biological reality of race, historical accounts of the rise of modern race concepts and their use in scientific research, and the psychology and ethics of race and racial discourse.
HPS 2826/30460 - Philosophy of Quantum Field Theory
Wednesday 10:00a.m.-12:30p.m. CL 1008C
This course covers quantum field theory (QFT) and its applications in particle physics and beyond. Topics covered will vary but may include: algebraic and Lagrangian formulations of QFT; the Interpretation of effective field theories; the relation between particles and fields; spontaneous symmetry breaking; the gauge principle.
SPRING 2022 (2224)
HPS 2103/32083 - History and Philosophy of Science Core Seminar
Dietrich, Mike/Norton, John
Wednesday 1:00p.m.-3:30p.m. CL 1008C
HPS 2276/32084 - Biological Complexity
Monday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m. CL 1008C
Biological systems are multi-level, historically contingent, robust and evolved structures. What are the special complexities of biological organization and dynamics? Some have identified biocomplexity as the reasons there are no laws of biology, others have defended reductionist strategies to explain the complexity, and others have founded new disciplines, like systems biology, as a response to bio complexity. This seminar explores topics related to ontological and methodological challenges for scientific approaches to knowledge of biological systems.
HPS 2356/32087 - Morality and the Mind-Brain Sciences
Monday 2:00p.m.-4:30p.m. CL 1008C
In the past few decades there has been an explosion of empirical research on moral reasoning and decision-making. This work comes from disciplines as various as anthropology (co-operation and hierarchy among early humans), psychology, neuroscience (the neural bases of moral decision-making), economics (results from experimental games concerning co-operation, reciprocity, and altruistic behavior) and evolutionary biology. This course will explore portions of this literature, both from a philosophy of science point of view and in connection with its possible relevance to normative theory in moral philosophy. Empirical studies of moral decision-making are of great interest in their own right but also raise important methodological issues that are of concern to philosophers of the social and behavioral sciences. These issues include having to do with the operationalization of complex behaviors in a way that permits empirical testing, what can be learned from from small scale experiments, and how to deal with individual differences. At the same time, one can also ask questions like the following: to what extent do various moral theories in the philosophical literature accurately describe, as an empirical matter, people's decision-making and behavior? For example, are people in western societies mainly consequentialists, deontologists or some mixture of the two? To what extent do people have various motives-- e.g., a concern with fairness and reciprocity that various moral theories seem to assume that they have. To what extent do people have other-regarding as opposed to self-regarding motivations at all? To what extent do people have the stable character traits assumed in virtue ethics? Does the sharp distinction between "emotion" and "reason" sometimes assumed in contemporary philosophy make sense from a neurobiological point of view? (Of course, we will also consider claims that how people in fact behave or what motivations they in fact have are irrelevant to normative theory since the latter has to do with how people ought to behave, rather than how they do behave.) I encourage attendance by students interested in moral philosophy but who lack a background in the areas of science discussed. Similarly, I encourage attendance by philosophers and historians of science without a background in moral theory. Both backgrounds will be supplied.
HPS 2810/32086 - Galileo and All of That
Thursday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m. CL 1008C
This seminar focuses on Galileo′s contributions to the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, including the astronomical discoveries, the physics of falling bodies, the philosophy of nature, the harmony of religion and science, the overturning of scholasticism. The seminar approaches Galileo in the broader humanistic, philosophical, mathematical and religious context of early modern Europe. His ingenious experiments marked his creative pathways towards a redefinition of science. Furthermore, the seminar traces his lasting legacy in the controversies that shaped the history and philosophy of modern science in the twentieth century. There are no prerequisites.