0427 / CLASS 0330 Myth and Science
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.
0515 / HIST 0089 Magic, Medicine and Science
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.
0515 / HIST 0089 Magic, Medicine and Science
M & W 12:00-12:50
This course investigates magic, medicine and science in early modern Europe. The course will be based on original sources. We will teach and learn magic, medicine and science as if we were professor and students in an early modern European setting.
0610 Causal Reasoning (Web-Based course)
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.
0612 Mind and Medicine
Machamer, Peter K.
M & W 2:00-2:50
Mind and Medicine deals with problems and questions that arise in considering how the mind plays certain roles in medical theory and practice. Of course, this means we must think about what the mind is. We will begin this course by looking at nature of emotions (particularly pleasure, fear, and empathy), how they might be explained, and see what role emotions play in judgments. Then we shall move on to examine briefly the placebo effect, what it is, and how it might function. From there we shall examine a case of a common mental illness, depression, and use it to examine the nature of explanation in medicine generally. We shall contrast such explanations with those given in evolutionary psychology. Finally, we will examine the some of the interrelations among certain aspects of mind, brain, and body. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in the nature of mind, medicine and psychiatry; will have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments; and have developed skills that will enable them to think clearly about some foundational questions as future or current health care providers, policy makers, and consumers. This course is also part of a core sequence leading to certification in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine Certificate Program, and is a companion course to HPS 0613 (Morality and Medicine) but may be taken independently. The course may be of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-health care students.
0621 Problem Solving
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.
1503 / HIST 1153 European Intellectual History 2 from 1870-1940-UHC
This course will explore topics in West European Intellectual History, 1850-1950. It will be conducted as a seminar centered upon student discussion. For this reason, students with be expected to read and engage the assigned sources before class. These sources will include readings in Mill, Durkheim, Mannheim, Freud and Existentialism. Some of our organizing questions will concern the nature of industrial and post-industrial society. We will ask about the possibility for social coherence in the modern world and we will explore the role of the intellectual. Student interests and concerns will determine other paths of enquiry. Course grades will be based on class participation and presentations, three papers, a midterm and a final.
1616 Artificial Intelligence & Philosophy of Science
T & H 4:00-5:15
Could a machine think? feel? Could it be conscious? This class will explore the relations between minds and machines, investigating some of the philosophical issues raised by artificial intelligence and cognitive science, the scientific disciplines that since the 1950s have sought to understand the nature of mind through comparisons with human-created information processing devices. The course will focus on approaches to naturalizing intentionality (and the nature of intentional actions) and the problem (s) of consciousness. With respect to the latter, we will discuss the recent resurgence of interest in the scientific study of consciousness.
1620 / PHIL 1650 Philosophy of Biology
Mitchell, Sandra D.
T & H 9:30-10:45
Philosophy of Biology will consider foundational conceptual issues in biology like the nature and structure of biological explanation, the possibility of laws in evolutionary theory, the relationship between different causal components of biological processes (genetics and development), the problem of species reality and classification, the explanatory character of ascription of biological function, and the extension of biological explanations to human psychology and culture. It is designed for both the philosopher who can explore central epistemological and metaphysical issues in the context of biological science and for the biologist who wants to explore the conceptual foundations and presuppositions of her science. The students will read primary historical and philosophical texts, engage in discussion and write essays. The format of the course will be a combination of lecture and discussion.
1653 Introduction to Philosophy of Science
M & W 1:00-1:50
This course examines fundamental philosophical questions concerning the reliability, limits, scope, and character of scientific knowledge, including what features make a given investigation distinctively scientific. We will use particular historical and contemporary examples of scientific inquiry to explore questions about the nature of confirmation, scientific explanation, and the growth of scientific knowledge. We will also explore some influential challenges to the view that we should simply accept our best current scientific theories as straightforward descriptions of how things stand in otherwise inaccessible domains of nature, as well as the most important responses that have been offered to such challenges by contemporary philosophers of science.
1660 / PHIL 1660 Paradox
Earman, John S.
T & H 2:30-3:45
In this course we will explore paradoxes both for the fun of untangling intriguing puzzles and for the more serious reason of the easy access paradoxes provide to some of the most important foundations issues in philosophy, logic, mathematics, and the sciences. Examples: Zeno’s paradoxes of motion and paradoxes of supertasks; paradoxes of infinity; the liar paradox; paradoxes of time travel; paradoxes of rationality (the surprise exam paradox, the ravens paradox); paradoxes of decision (Newcomb’s paradox, the prisoners’ dilemma). Prerequisites: None; but is recommended that students have completed an introductory logic course.
1702 JR/SR Seminar
McGuire, James E.
Descartes’Principles of Philosophy (1644) is one of the seminal natural philosophical/philosophical works of the early modern period. In this seminar we will examine closely Books 1 and 11 in their own right and as they relate to other works in the Cartesian corpus. The overall aim will be to place in these Books in cultural sitting of Descartes’ life. The Principles, it will be argued, are the first fruit of Descartes’ mature thought not the Mediations. Accordingly, a close eye will be trained on the various stages that lead Descartes’ to the distinctive positions we find the Principles. Certainly, the nature of Descartes’ arguments will receive detailed scrutiny. But also their historical impact will be considered. Undoubtedly Isaac Newton owes a great deal to Descartes’ and to Cartesian modes of thinking.
1703 Writing Workshop for HPS Major
McGuire, James E.
This writing workshop is designed to introduce HPS majors to the methods and standards of good scholarly writing in History and Philosophy of Science. It will be offered to HPS majors only in conjunction with HPS 1702, JR/SR Seminar. Evaluation will be based on two short papers that will be rewritten on the basis of the instructor's comments. Must be an HPS Major in Junior or Senior year.