Graduate Courses

FALL 2019

2501       Philosophy of Science (Core)                                                                                                   
Dr. Mark Wilson  2201       10630
Monday 4p.m.-6:30p.m. 1008-C CL
Cross-listed with PHIL 2600/10459
This course will focus on central topics in philosophy of science, from the era of logical positivism onwards: including explanation, confirmation, theory change, the meaning of theoretical terms, and scientific realism.
2522       Special Topics-History of Science: History & Philosophy of Modern Calculus                         
Dr. Paolo Palmieri 2201  28590
Tuesday 9:30a.m.-12:00 p.m. 1008-C CL
This seminar explores historical, cultural and philosophical questions concerning the history of the calculus. These questions include: Indivisibles quantities vs. infinitesimal quantities, the problem of tangents, fluxions vs. differentials, analysis/ synthesis, limits/ integration, discovery/ emergence/ justification in mathematics, the roots of modern mathematics in ancient classical Greek culture, the cultural significance of modern mathematics and the evolution of the disciplinary boundaries that define the structure of science and the way it is taught and practiced in the modern universities. No prerequisites.
2649       Science and Values                                                                                                                   
Dr. Sandra Mitchell  2201       31283 
Thursday 9:30a.m. -12:00p.m. 1008-C CL
We will consider two major theses that have been defended regarding science and values: (1) that scientific inquiry, rather than being a simple matter of evidence and logic or rule-governed inference, requires a variety of value judgments, and (2) that social (ethical, prudential, political, etc.) values play some role in scientific inquiry. This will include discussions of objectivity, underdetermination and the role of science for science policy.
2634       Special Topics in Cognitive Science                                                                                           
Dr. Colin Allen  2201          
Monday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m. 1008-C CL
Cross-listed with PHIL 2663/31301
This seminar will address the diversity of modeling approaches used in the cognitive sciences: mathematical, computational, Bayesian, dynamical, network models, etc.  We will cover issues such as the relationship of cognitive models to neuroscience, and questions about the nature and significance of distinctions among models such as cognitive vs. associative, dynamical vs. computational, optimal vs. heuristic. These topics will lead us to more general issues concerning the scientific modeling concerning the epistemic and explanatory status of models, pragmatism in modeling choices, and methods for evaluating models.
2669       Realism                                                                                                                                       
Dr. Mazviita Chirimuuta  2201       30784 
Thursday 1p.m.-3:30p.m. 1008-C CL
In this course we will endeavour to answer the question of how and why scientific realism came to be the dominant view regarding the interpretation of scientific theories -- at least amongst non-specialists -- by the end of the twentieth century. We will begin by examining the forms of realism that emerged at the start of the century, and how they interacted with rival empiricist and neo-Kantian approaches. We will examine the mid-century decline of logical empiricism, and the canonical arguments in favour of realism. Time permitting, we will finish with an assessment of contemporary varieties of realism: structuralism (considering, in particular, its origins in neo-Kantian philosophy of science), Michela Massimi’s perspectival realism, and Hasok Chang’s recent attempt to align realism with a pragmatist approach to truth.

Previous Semesters----------------

Spring 2019

HPS 2503    History of Science 2  
Palmieri, Paolo  2194    30773                                                                                                             
Thursday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m.
1008-B CL
This course is designed as an introduction to the history of human understanding of the non-living world from antiquity to the modern era. Highlighted during this course will also be topics in the historiography of the sciences. Most readings will be drawn from primary source materials. The specific topics treated in this course vary from year-to-year and from professor-to-professor.
HPS 2653     Models and Modeling in Science                                                                                
Robert Batterman  2194    31101                                                                                                             
Monday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m
1008-B CL
Cross-listed with PHIL 2663/30852
This course will examine various strategies for modeling across scales. These include justifying the use of continuum models to explain and characterize behaviors of systems that we know are not continua. An overarching theme will be the use of what one can call ``asymptotic reasoning'' to justify ignoring details at scales (spatial and temporal) beyond those where various behaviors are dominant.  We consider a host of examples, from physics, materials science, and biology.  
HPS 2657    Philosophy of Biology: Causation & Explanation in Biology                                         
James Woodward  2194    30774                                                                                                             
Tuesday 2:00p.m.-4:30p.m.
1008-B CL
This course will explore some of the recent literature on causation and explanation in biology. Among the issues we will discuss are the following:  How should we understand the notion of mechanism and mechanistic explanation in biological contexts? How central are mechanistic explanations to biology?  What notion (or notions) of causation do we find in biology? Are the non-causal explanations in biology for example, are explanations that appeal to network structures non-causal as several philosophers have recently claimed?  What strategies do biologists employ in formulating explanatory theories about systems that are highly complex?  Can we make sense of the idea that some causal relationships in biological systems are more important than others or in some way privileged?                                      
HPS 2663    Perception                                                                                                                 
Mazviita Chirimuuta  2194    30775                                                                                                                  
Monday 1:00p.m.-3:30p.m.
1008-B CL
This course will be an examination of naturalistic philosophy of perception – mostly contemporary, but some historical examples. We will consider the strengths and pitfalls of different versions of naturalism, including non-standard approaches such as Huw Price’s “subject naturalism”, as employed in Gert’s (2017) theory of colour. We will also consider the relevance of different branches of perceptual science – e.g. neuroscience, psychophysics, and evolutionary psychology – for philosophy of perception, and examine how general issues in philosophy of science, such as realism vs. instrumentalism, impact on naturalistic methodologies. Topics will include colour ontology, the primary-secondary quality distinction, the relationship amongst the sensory modalities, and the status of introspection.
HPS 2665     Philosophy of Medicine                                                                                                        
Anya Plutynski  2194    30792                                                                                                          
Wednesday 9:30a.m.-12:00p.m.
1008-B CL
Philosophy of medicine is an investigation into what doctors know, and how they know it. This course will focus on cancer as a case study for exploring a variety of conceptual and epistemic questions about the nature of disease, challenges facing disease classification, explanation, and evidential reasoning in cell and molecular biology, epidemiology, and biomedicine generally. Some questions will explore include: Does cancer diagnosis involve an evaluative component? What is the scope and what are the limitations of mechanistic thinking about cancer? What does it mean to say that cancer is a genomic disease?  How ought we to classify cancers? What sort of evidence is required to justify the claim that "smoking causes lung cancer"? Is cancer a product or byproduct of our evolutionary history, and how do we know? Is cancer progression an evolutionary process? What counts as process in cancer science? What count as warranted claims about the effectiveness of medical interventions? When are we justified in saying that this or that screening method or treatment is effective? In sum, how do scientists and clinicians explain, predict, and intervene successfully on cancer? This course is about the variety of conceptual, metaphysical, epistemological, and practical, political questions that arise in medicine and the biomedical sciences as concerns cancer, in particular.