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Department of

History and Philosophy of Science   

Graduate Courses

undergraduate | by title

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2501 / PHIL 2600 Philosophy of Science Core
Wilson, Mark
Wednesday 4:00-6:30
This course will focus on central topics in general philosophy of science: explanation, confirmation, theory change, the meaning of theoretical terms, scientific realism. We shall combine a reading of some of the classic texts along with more recent work.
Prerequisites: Graduate Status

2502 History of Science Core
Palmieri, Paolo
Monday 2:00-4:30
This course is designed as a survey of specific movements in the history of science from antiquity to the early 17th 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 17th century up to the present. Throughout, it should be kept in mind that a major goal of this course is the development of the skills and techniques of the historian. Specific topics treated in these survey courses vary from year-to-year and from professor-to-professor. The seminar is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduate students from other departments by permission only. Interested students should contact the professor for an interview.
Prerequisites: Graduate Status

2622 / PHIL 2625 Recent Topics in Philosophy of Science: Emergence
Mitchell, Sandra D.
Thursday 9:30-12:00
In this seminar we will look at the both the historical and contemporary writings on the character, existence, prevalence, and significance of emergent properties as studied by science. We will begin with the British Emergentists (Mill, Lewes and Broad) and end with the contemporary resurgence of interest in emergence in physics, chemistry and especially biology. Examples of purported emergence have included the liquidity and transparency of water, the Curie point of phase transition when a heated magnet abruptly loses its magnetism, or life itself “emerging” from the behavior of lifeless molecules. We will consider questions: How should we define “emergence”? What sorts of things can be emergent? Is there evidence of emergence in our world, is it objective or subjective? What kind of autonomy do emergent systems, properties, entitles display and what are the consequences for scientific explanation?
Prerequisites: Graduate Status.

2624 / PHIL 2624 Philosophy of Classical & Quantum Mechanics
Butterfield, Jeremy
Tuesday 4:00-6:30
The course has two parts, roughly equal in length. The first part introduces some of the main philosophical topics about classical and quantum mechanics, and also relativity theory. For quantum theory, these will be:(i) the measurement problem, the main strategies for its solution, and the role of decoherence; (ii) quantum non-locality, especially Bell's theorems. To discuss these, the density matrix formalism will be introduced. For classical mechanics and relativity theory, the chosen topics will be:(iv) absolute vs. relational views of space and time; (v) the role of symmetry in mechanics; (vi) modality in mechanics. Here, some elementary differential geometry will be used. The second part will pursue some topics in greater depth. Topics likely to be chosen are: (a) for quantum theory: the Everett interpretation, and the identity of particles; (b) for classical mechanics: symplectic reduction, and chaos; (c) philosophical aspects of emergent phenomena in physics. The elements of classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and relativity theory will be explained as needed.
Prerequisites: Graduate Status.

2631 Method & Interpretation in Cognitive Science
Glymour, Clark
Friday 9:30-12:00
Cognitive Neuropsychology presents a variety of issues about the use of evidence, the construction of theory, strategies of inquiry, and the relations of psychology and physics. In this seminar we will consider classical neuropsychology based on clinical evidence from brain damaged subjects, focusing on what inferences about cognitive architecture can reliably be made from such data; the value of reaction time data; the role of individual cell measurements; and inferences about cognitive processes based on fMRI and other brain imaging techniques. We will also consider how psychology and biophysics do, or should interact in the explanation of human thought and judgment, and some ethical issues raised by developments of neuroscience.
Prerequisites: Graduate Status

2654 19th Century Philosophy of Science
Lennox, James G.
Tuesday 9:30-12:00
During the 19th century there was a constant and fertile interaction between philosophers with special interests in the nature of science (Herschel, Whewell, Mill, Spencer, Compte, Bernard) and leading practitioners of the sciences of geology and biology (Lyell, Darwin). In this seminar we will examine the interactions in the 19th century between philosophical investigations of science (the nature of laws, causality, induction, evidence, theory, chance, design) and the practice of science, especially geology and biology. Of central interest will be the extent to which the rise of the historical sciences shaped philosophies of science, and how the historical sciences were influenced by the philosophical norms of that period.
Prerequisites: Graduate Status.

2658 Philosophy of Medicine
Schaffner, Kenneth F.
Tuesday, Thursday 2:30-3:45
This course is a graduate-level introduction to philosophical issues in medicine. We will engage in critical reflection and discussion on the practice, methodologies, and science of medicine, in order to shed light both on the philosophy of medicine as well as broader issues in the philosophy of science. The topics to be covered include (1) the nature of the doctor-patient relationship in the context of the biopsychosocial and “perspectives” models, (2) the question whether diseases are objective or socially-constructed entities, (3) clinical reasoning using some simple examples from medical diagnosis and tests, (4) scientific progress and revolutions in biology and medicine, with examples from immunology, rheumatology, and HIV-AIDS virology, and (5) various issues raised by the AIDS epidemic, including a number of its ethical and social problems. Enrollment requires permission of the instructor. Graduate students will attend the lectures for the undergraduate version of this course, and have additional meetings with the instructor to discuss extra reading assignments. Graduate student requirements include doing a one-hour guest presentation in the undergraduate class, and a standard graduate term paper due at the end of the term.

2673 / PHIL 2041 / CLASS 2314 Studies in Aristotle: “Aristotle’s De motu animalium”
Falcon, Andrea
Tuesday 6:00-8:30
This course is a study of Aristotle's De motu animalium. The opening lines of the treatise promise a common account of animal motion. This account is common in the sense that it applies to all the types of animal motion that there might be. Later on it becomes clear that this account implies an explanation of how the soul moves the body. This helps us to understand why Aristotle builds his account of animal motion not only on the results achieved in the general treatment of motion offered in the Physics and the study of animal life advanced in his biological works, but also on certain features of the account of the soul presented in the De anima. A careful study of the way in which the argument of the De motu animalium unfolds will shed some light on the epistemological commitments guiding Aristotle in his investigation of the natural world, as well as on the place that this short but difficult treatise occupies in Aristotle's natural science.
Prerequisites: Graduate Status.