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Department of

History and Philosophy of Science   


graduate | undergraduate | by title

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Graduate Courses (Click on a title for course materials)

2501 Philosophy of Science Core
04-1 08851 Griffiths
Cross-listed with PHIL 2600
1. This course will focus on three perennial and pervasive problem areas in philosophy of science: (1) the nature of scientific explanation, including its involvement with laws and causality; (2) confirmation of scientific hypotheses, including the closely related concepts of probability, induction, and corroboration; and (3) the nature and function of scientific theories, including the realism/instrumentalism issue and the concepts of scientific meaning and scientific change. One major aim of the course will be to provide a general understanding of the major issues and approaches in philosophy of science for those students who plan to specialize in other areas of philosophy. Serious efforts will be made to relate these issues to important problems outside of philosophy of science. A second major aim to be to provide a solid background in mainstream philosophy of science for those students who want to do further work in philosophy of science. The reading materials for the course will be drawn from major classics and important contemporary works.
2. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Estimated Class Size: 15 students.
5. This course is offered annually, but with different instructors from year to year.
6. Special permission is required for this course and it is limited to HPS and Philosophy students only.

2502 History of Science 1
04-1 01453 Machamer
1. This course is designed as a survey of specific movements in the history of science from antiquity to the early 17 th century. Highlighted during this course will be topics in the history of mathematics, physics, optics, astronomy, biology, and medicine. Most readings will be drawn from primary source materials. This course is the first part of a two-part series. The second course, History of Science II, will deal with specific issues from the 17 th century up to the present. The courses are designed so that they can be taken independently. The specific topics treated in these survey courses vary from year-to-year and from professor-to-professor.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Expected class size: 15 students.
5. This course is offered each Fall Term.
6. Special permission is required for this course and is designed for HPS majors only.

2538 Early Modern Philosophy of Science
04-1 38292 McGuire
1. The aim of this seminar is to explore the ways in which philosophers reacted to perspectives arising from the new science of the 17 th century, and the ways that philosophical analysis entered the self-consciousness of the scientific enterprise. Among the traditional topics affected were: mind/body, fact/value, causation, objectivity, God/nature, knowledge and cognition. We shall base the seminar on readings selected from Boyle, Descartes, Newton , Locke, Berkeley , Leibniz, and Kant. Special attention will be paid to the historical context within which modern philosophy and science interacted.
2. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Estimated Class Size: 15 students.
5. This course is not offered on a regular basis.

2653 Models and Modeling in Science
04-1 38285 Mitchell
1. There is increasing interest in representing scientific knowledge by means of models. Some (Suppes, Giere, VanFraasssen) have argued for model theoretic rather than axiomatic formulations in defending a semantic account of theories. For others, models are understood in light of scientific practice, autonomous from theory, or mediating between theory and observation (Morrison, Morgan). This seminar will examine recent philosophical literature (Cartwright and others) on related topics including, the relation of model to theory and to observation, the nature of abstraction, idealization, analogy and isomorphism in modeling, and different types of models including physical and scale models, mathematical models and computer simulations.
2. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Estimated Class Size: 15 students.
5. This course is not offered on a regular basis.

2667 Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics
04-1 41101 Ruetsche
1. This course will focus on the interpretation of quantum theories, with special attention to how interpretive questions interact with other items (e.g. explanation, realism, physical possibility) on the philosophical agenda. I'll adapt the course contents to the interests and backgrounds of those enrolled, but here's a provisional list of topics: contraints on the interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics imposed by the measurement problem, Bell inequalities, Kochen-Specker result, and so on; quantum-information-theoretic interpretations; new interpretive questions raised by quantum field theories. Course requirements: EITHER (nearly) weekly short papers OR one longer research paper. Class presentations encouraged but not required.
2. Prerequisites: Graduate status or permission from the instructor.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Expected class size: 15 students.
5. This course is offered on a regular basis.
6. For permission to enter this class when it is closed, you must see instructor.

2671 Models of Scientific Change
04-1 38280 Lennox
Cross-listed with CLST 2671
1. The aim of Models of Scientific Change is to examine the various attempts made by philosophers, historians, cognitive scientists and sociologists to understand the nature of historical changes in the concepts, methods and theories of the natural sciences. The seminar will begin with an attempt to identify the reasons for this subject emerging as a problem in the period 1955-60, and will move on to look at various attempts to resolve the perceived problem in the next two decades by people such at Lakatos, Laudan, Shapere and Toulmin. From that point on we will focus on a few key episodes in the history of the biological sciences, and at recent attempts (by people such as Darden, Kitcher and Thagard) to provide philosophical accounts of those historical episodes without abandoning the idea of scientific progress and objectivity.
2. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Estimated Class Size: 15 Students.
5. This class is not taught on a regular basis.

Undergraduate Courses (Click on a title for course materials)

0427 Myth and Science
04-1 10729
04-1 41480
Cross-listed with CLASS 0330
1. 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.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Expected class size: 30 students.
5. This course is offered on a regular basis.

0515 Magic, Medicine and Science
04-1 25274
04-1 38223
Cross-listed with HIST 0089
1. 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.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Expected class size: 30 students.
5. This class is offered on a regular basis.

517 Thinking about the Environment
04-1 38194 Earman
1. The goal of this course is to promote clear and rigorous thinking about environmental issues such as nuclear power, global warming, ozone depletion, and the use of chemical pesticides. The course will therefore focus on developing the skills needed to find the best available information on an environmental issue, and to make informed judgments about what conclusions and what actions are warranted on the basis of that information.
2. Prerequisites: None
3. Recitations: One hour per week
4. Estimated class size: 160 students.
5. This course is offered on a regular basis

0610 Statistics and Causal Reasoning
04-1 38297
04-1 41106
1. Do school vouchers really help inner city students become better educated? Do gun control laws really make society safer? This course examines how scientists reason about causal claims like these. It considers use of scientific statistical data that informs our public policy debates. The course uses an interactive, web-based text and exams. In addition, there is an on-line virtual "Causality Lab" in which students will set up, run, and then analyze simulated experiments. They 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, students will still attend two sessions per week; one for addressing questions about the material and the second for case study analysis.
2. Prerequisite: None.
3. Recitations: One hour a week.
4. Estimated Class Size: 30 students.
5. This course is offered on a regular basis.

0611 Principles of Scientific Reasoning
04-1 20402
1. 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.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Expected class size: 30 students.
5. This course is offered on a regular basis.

0613 Morality and Medicine
04-1 20407 Mitchell
04-1 25424
1. 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.
2. Prerequisites: None. However, 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.
3. Recitations: One hour per week in the Fall section 20407.
4. Estimated Class Size: 30 students in the Summer 6WK1 session, 160 students in the Fall session and 30 students in the Fall Saturday session.
5. This course is offered every term.

0621 Problem Solving: How Science Works
04-1 38237
04-1 41247
1. 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.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Expected class size: 30 students.
5. This course is offered every term.

0623 Explanations of Humans and Society
04-1 38253 Machamer
1. This course will look at some of the original writings of the three "giants" of modern psychology: Freud, Skinner and Piaget. The three movements of psychoanalysis, behaviorism and developmental cognition will be explored through their most articulate and well known proponents. Topics to be discussed include the nature of the emotions, the structures of behavior and the forms of human thought. Specifically, we will discuss how the concepts of desire, love, jealousy, homosexuality, skilled actions, language, and logical and moral reasoning can be used to understand human beings.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: One hour per week in the Fall session 38253.
4. Expected class size: 30 students in the Summer 6WK1 session, 80 students in the Fall session.
5. This course is not offered on a regular basis.

1600 Philosophy and the Rise of Modern Science
04-1 38246 McGuire
Cross-listed with PHIL 1600
1. It is generally agreed that what happened in the 17 th century changed the human landscape irrevocably. The Religious Reformation was consolidated; Divinely ordained kingship was decisively uprooted; upheavals across Europe ushered in non-traditional political and constitutional formations; and the forces of transformation forged new sociocultural contexts in which life was lived. Lying at the core of these transformations was the impact of early modern science as it emerged in the 17 th century. This course will examine the dynamics of the ‘Scientific Revolution' paying close attention to such figures as Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, and Newton . We will be concerned with the philosophical consequences of their thought within the context of their period, but also with the affect it had on the scientific world-picture of the 18 th century Enlightenment.
•  Prerequisite: None.
•  Recitations: None.
•  Expected class size: 30 students.
•  This course is not offered regularly.

1616 Artificial Intelligence and the Philosophy of Science
04-1 38276 Griffiths
1. This course deals with artificial intelligence and more generally
with cognitive science, the scientific disciplines that since the 1950s have sought to understand the nature of mind through comparisons with man-made information processing devices. The course will include an overview of one or more fields of research and of one or more conceptual or methodological debates that has resulted from work in that field or fields. Topics covered in any one year may include the classicism/connectionism debate, approaches to naturalizing intentionality, the problem of consciousness, evolutionary psychology, the cognitive science of emotion, and ‘embodied cognition'.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: None.
4. Estimated Class Size: 30 students.
5. This course is offered periodically.

1653 Introduction to Philosophy of Science
04-1 28006 Ruetsche
Cross-listed with PHIL 1610
1. What distinguishes astrology from astronomy, or alchemy from chemistry, if anything? This course critically examines the most important attempts to define the ‘scientific method', to draw a line dividing science from pseudo-science and to justify the high status and reliability generally accorded to scientific knowledge. The ‘philosophies of science' studied include Popper's idea that truly scientific theories are ‘falsifiable', and that certain theories are unfalsifiable ‘pseudo-science'; Kuhn's proposal that science consists of a series of ‘paradigms' separated by ‘scientific revolutions'; and Feyerabend's ‘anarchist' claim that there are no objective criteria by which science can be distinguised from pseudoscience.
2. Prerequisites: No specific prerequisites; but at least one prior course in some area of science is desirable.
3. Recitations: One hour per week.
4. Expected class size: 80 students.
5. This course is offered each year, but the term may vary from year to year.
6. For permission to enter this class when it is closed, you must see the instructor.

1682 Freedom and Determinism
04-1 41097 Boxer
Cross-listed with PHIL 1682
1. 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.
2. Prerequisites: None.
3. Recitations: None
4. Expected class size: 30 students.
5. This course is not offered on a regular basis
6. Please see the instructor for permission to enter this class when it is closed.