2503 History of Science II
This seminar will provide an overview of some of the 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, geological and social sciences. It will deal with the work of individuals, of general movements and their institutional and national settings.
2522 Special Topics in History of Science: Investigating Discovery
James Lennox and Paolo Palmieri
A variety of archival resources are available for investigating the history of science, and the internet will continue to make more and more of these materials accessible on-line. In this seminar we will be exploring issues such a how to make intelligent use of resources and how to determine which questions they can help to answer. In particular, can such resources give us insight into the creative proves often referred to as scientific discovery? We will explore such questions in the context of archival collections, for example those related to Galileo and Darwin.
2538 Early Modern Philosophy of Science
The aim of this seminar is to explore the ways in which philosophers reacted to perspectives arising from the new science of the 17th 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.
2586 / ANTHRO 2605 / GEOL 3901 History, Philosophy and Systematics of Becoming Human: the underpinning of paleoanthropology and the study of human evolution
In this course we will read primary literature that is relevant to the study of human evolution, beginning with Tyson’s description of an “ourang outang” through the inquiries into “humanness” of Burnett (Monboddo), Buffon, Linnaeus, and others, to the treatises of Blumenbach on “race” and being “Homo sapiens,” Huxley and Darwin’s arguments for “man’s place in nature” and the “descent of man,” and the debates between Schaaffhausen, Fuhlrott, Huxley, and King over the “status” of the first publicly announced human fossil, the Feldhofer Grotto Neanderthal. From there we will read in chronological order the publications on subsequent fossil discoveries and the recognition (or rejection) of extinct human relatives, as well as essays on the course of human evolution; included, for example, will be Dubois (on “Pithecanthropus erectus”), Dart (on Australopithecus), Broom (On “Plesianthropus” and Paranthropus), Keith and Hrdlicka (overviews), the Leakeys (Louis and Mary’s discoveries at Olduvai Gorge, and Richard’s at Koobi Fora), and Johanson (at Hadar) and some of the more recent finds. The thrust of the course will be to tease apart fact from assumption as they were cobbled together in promoting one’s favorite scenario on human evolution. Students will be expected to hand in annotated bibliographies based on the reading and to take turns in leading discussion. Each student will also produce a term paper that will expand on a topic relevant to the course.
2648 / PHIL 2648 / CLASS 2314 Science and Philosophy in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals
This seminar is a philosophically-oriented study of arguably one of the greatest treatises in the history of science. Our focus will be on Generation of Animals (GA) both as a scientific work systematically structured in line with Aristotle’s general philosophy of science and as a source for our understanding of central elements of his metaphysics, theory of science, and philosophy of biology. We will follow Aristotle as he develops and argues for his theory of the male and female contributions to generation, and of the manner in which form (and soul, including intellect) is transmitted from one generation to the next; and we will briefly examine what might be called the epistemology of spontaneous generation. We will also examine, in greater depth, the respective roles of teleological and material-level explanation in GA’s accounts of the conception and embryological development of an organism (in both sexual and spontaneous generations). Though the greater part of our attention will be a specialized treatise, our work will involve a close look at Aristotle’s conceptions of substance and essence, of natures and potentials, of form and matter, of teleology and necessity, of soul, and of the structure of a theoretical science, and will include readings from other works of Aristotle. For that reason, this course is suitable for those wanting an introduction to Aristotelian philosophy as well as for those who have already experienced the joys (and occasional frustrations) of a close study of this great philosopher-scientist.
A full-length paper will be required at the end of the course. Short in-class presentations will be welcome (but not required). Those of us who have some Greek can meet occasionally outside of the seminar to translation choice passages from GA.
2653 Models and Modeling
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.
2657 / PHIL 2657 Philosophy of Biology
This seminar will consider foundational conceptual issues in biology including the nature and structure of biological explanation, the possibility of laws in biology and the relationship of biology to other sciences, natural kinds and the classification of species, teleology and biological function. In addition we will explore cutting edge topics of robustness in complex biological systems and the challenges raised for causal inference, emergence and multi-level organization as well as the relationship between unity of science and pluralism.
2677 / PHIL 2677 Foundations of Quantum Field Theory
John Earman and Laura Ruetsche
Philosophers of physics have lavished attention on the quantum mechanics of systems with finitely many degrees of freedom (aka ordinary QM): a pair of spin ½ systems in the spin singlet state, say, or a bivalent object system coupled to a bivalent measuring apparatus. This course will focus on quantum theories of systems with infinitely many degrees of freedom (aka QM¥): quantum field theory and the thermodynamic limit of quantum statistical mechanics. A provocative difference between theories of ordinary QM and theories of QM¥ is that the former, but not the latter, (almost) always have a unique Hilbert space representation. How then---that is, by what mathematical tools and according to what interpretive principles---are we to identify the content of theories of QM¥? We will attempt to articulate and address this question in a variety of contexts. The articulation will employ the resources of rudimentary operator algebra theory, with which the student will not be presumed to be familiar (although she will be expected to be acquainted with the vector space formalism of ordinary QM). The contexts will include: the uniqueness theorems for the representation of the canonical commutation relations for ordinary QM and the breakdown of uniqueness for QM¥; the Rindler effect and the status of particles in QFT; Haag’s theorem and the unitary implementability of QFT dynamics; QFT on curved spacetime; phase structure, symmetry breaking, and “macroscopic” observables in the thermodynamic limit of QSM.