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Department of

History and Philosophy of Science   

Graduate Courses

undergraduate | by title

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2503 History of Science II
Ted McGuire
Thursday 2:00-4:30
This course is the second part of the two-part series. It will provide an overview of major developments in the sciences from the second half of the seventeenth century to the first half of the twentieth century, considering the physical, chemical, biological, psychological and social sciences. It will deal with the work of individuals, of general movements and their institutional and national settings. Special Permission is required for HPS Majors for this course.

2522 Special Topics in History of Science: History and Philosophy of Early Calculus
Paolo Palmieri
Tuesday 9:30-12:00
This seminar explores historical and philosophical questions concerning early calculus. These questions include: Indivisibles quantities vs. infinitesimal quantities, the problem of tangents, fluxions vs. differentials, analysis/ synthesis, discovery/ emergence/ justification in mathematics.

2543 / PHIL 2105 Thomas Hobbes: Science, Psychology, Language, Mathematics, Politics and Religion
Peter K. Machamer
Tuesday 5:00-7:30
An intensive look at the range of Hobbes' work. Some influential secondary sources will be examined, e.g. Leviathan and the Air Pump, Squaring the Circle, etc.

2599 / PHIL 2599 History of Behavioral Genetics
Kenneth F. Schaffner
Tuesday 2:00-4:30
The history of behavioral genetics, and related philosophical issues, will be reviewed from its beginnings in 1960 to the present day. Reading materials will include original papers and secondary sources, as well as a number of oral interviews with leaders of the field. The focus will be on human studies including the IQ controversy, normal personality genetics, personality disorders, and schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s Disease. The types of studies to be reviewed include heritability analyses and conceptual problems with heritability, as well as molecular methods and problems with replicability and explanatory breadth and depth. The roles of the environment and intermediate phenotypes (endophenotypes) including brain imaging studies will be discussed.

2669 / PHIL 2681 Realism
Kyle Stanford
Thursday 9:30-12:00
Scientific realists think that on balance we have good reason to believe that our best scientific theories are at least probably and/or approximately true descriptions of how things stand in a mind-independent natural world. In this course we will begin by examining the classic statements and defenses of this view from thinkers like Boyd, Smart, and Putnam, including the so-called "Miracle" argument (viz. that the success of science would be a miracle if the theories used to achieve it were not at least approximately true). We will then consider some classic responses to this realist rationale from thinkers (like Van Frassen, Laudan, and Fine) who articulate challenges to realism from such sources as the underdetermination of theories by evidence and the pessimistic induction over the history of science and who defend various alternatives to the realist position. We will then examine the most recent round of controversies surrounding scientific realism, considering versions of realism that have been revised in sophisticated ways (by thinkers like Worrall, Kitcher, and Psillos) to address the concerns of the objectors, as well as the most recent challenges that have been raised to these views (by Stanford, naturally). I hope to conclude by exploring challenges (from Stein and Blackburn) to the idea that a nonrealist attitude towards science can even be given a coherent formulation, and by revisiting the Miracle argument to ask what if anything nonrealists are ultimately in a position to say about it.

2675 / PHIL 2660 Philosophy of Space and Time
John S. Earman / John D. Norton
Wednesday 9:30-12:00
This seminar will concentrate on problems of time. Topics will be drawn from both the philosophy literature (e.g. tensed vs. tenseless theories of time, presentism vs. eternalism, McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time) and the philosophy of science literature (e.g. the problem of the direction of time, the relations amongst the so-called ‘arrows of time’). Attempts will be made to bring the two literatures into fruitful interaction.

2679 / PHIL 2580 Philosophy of Mathematics
Kenneth Manders
Thursday 2:00-4:30
The current tradition in Epistemology of Mathematics rests on a fruitful restriction, to questions of (primarily logical and foundational) justification. After reviewing the highlights of this tradition, we motivate broader epistemological inquiry into the power of mathematical thought, and indicate avenues of approach to such questions. These involve rethinking mathematical reasoning in non-foundational, practice conceptions and taking into account the quality of representational contributions to mathematical reasoning. The course can serve as an introduction to the epistemology of mathematics. Requirements may be satisfied either by short papers or by a term paper, with prior approval of the instructor. This course will be offered as both a "Research Seminar" and a "Background Seminar".