HPS 2580
Cosmology Spring 2018

Orphaned topics

Access this site at http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teaching/2580_Cosmology/general.html

Cosmology has become one of the most dynamic areas of modern science. Its growth is driven by a steady stream of novel astronomical observations and by energetic theorizing that ranges from the highly speculative to the cautious and conservative. We shall explore the historical origins of modern cosmology and foundational issues of philosophical interest with an emphasis on these new developments.

John D. Norton, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Room 1017 CL, 412 624 5896 jdnorton@pitt.edu
Room G28 CL
Tuesday 9:30am - 11:55am

Your Part

Term paper
To be submitted Friday April 27 in hard copy by noon in 1017CL; or e-versions (preferred) in email to me by 5pm.

My policy is NOT to issue incomplete grades, excepting in extraordinary circumstances. I really do want your papers completed and submitted by the end of term. We do not want them to linger on like an overdue dental checkup, filling your lives with unnecessary worry and guilt.

In return for the rigidity of the deadline, the seminar will not meet in the final week of term (Tuesday April 24) to give you extra time to complete the paper.

The paper may be on any subject of relevance to the seminar.

To assist you in commencing work, please submit a paper proposal by the seminar meeting Tuesday April 3. It should be send in email ahead of the class meeting or presented on paper in the meeting. The proposal need only be brief. It should contain a short paragraph describing the topic to be investigated and give a brief indication of the sources you intend to use.

Do talk with me about possible topics. Do talk with me earlier rather than later.

Looking for places to start? Look at the introductory survey of problems, the orphaned topics and sources.

Take your turn presenting material
The seminar will be structured around presentations by seminar members, including me. They are based on weekly readings drawn from the topics and reading list.

We have roughly 2 readings or its equivalent each week, so there will commonly be two presenters. Each should expect about one hour to be spent on the reading. For a small group such as we will have in the seminar, a highly structured "talk, then question time" is not optimal. A better model is for the presenter to develop the ideas of the paper in interactive discussion with the seminar members.

In presenting a reading, you should presume that the seminar has read it. You should spend a short amount of time reviewing the principal claims and arguments of the reading. This is not intended to replace the seminar's reading of the text, but merely to provide a basis of common agreement on its content and upon which subsequent discussion is based. Your principal burden is to provide a critical analysis, a response to the reading and to encourage analytic discussion. This analysis can take many directions. Is the project of the paper clear? Are the theses clear? Are the arguments cogent? How does the reading relate to other readings and issues in the seminar? Are there plausible counter-theses? What arguments support them?

You are encouraged to stand at the front of the room, make strong eye contact with the seminar and deliver the material, writing as needed on the blackboard or gesturing at the digital screen. This promotes a more engaging presentation than when you sit at the table with your head buried in your notes talking to the notes.

Attendance and participation
I look forward to seeing and hearing you each week in the seminar.