2501 / PHIL 2600 Philosophy of Science Core
This course will focus on central topics in philosophy of science, from the era of logical positivism onwards: including explanation, confirmation, theory change, the meaning of theoretical terms, and scientific realism.
2502 History of Science Core I
In our newly reorganized History of Science Core sequence, HPS 2502 (History of Science I) will study the history of the investigation of the living world from the Ancient Greeks through to the late 20th century. This study will be based on a close study of primary texts (in translation when necessary). A primary focus of the seminar will be to track continuity through historical changes as well as the cultural context of the texts we will be studying. Special attention will be given to the ways in which different philosophical and theological views impact thinking about the study of life, and in particular thinking about how the study of human beings and the study of other livings things are related.
2585 / ANTH 2612 Evolutionary Theory
This will be an in-depth survey of the historical development of evolutionary thought, with emphasis on alternatives to Darwinism. The theme of the course will be to identify the assumptions, the things taken as given without foundation, the motivations - to explore how different scholars can take the same observations as "fact" in arriving at totally different conclusions/interpretations. Students will lead class discussion based on their annotation of original works by Darwin, Huxley, Mivart, Mendel, Weismann, de Vries, Bateson, pre- and post-1910 Morgan, Haldane, Wright, Fisher, Dobzhansky, Mayr, Simpson, Goldschmidt, Schindewolf, de Beer, Lovtrup, Alberch, Williams, Eldredge and Gould, and as much else as we can fit in. From this corpus, students will choose topics that they will pursue further in their final papers and presentations. Students will be evaluated on their class participation, annotated bibliographies, and final paper and presentation. Graduate standing in anthropology, history and philosophy of science, biology, and geology, or permission of the instructor.
2622 / PHIL 2625 Recent Topics in Philosophy of Science
Causation, laws of nature, and natural kinds are deeply interconnected metaphysical notions. Is causation an objective structural feature of nature? If so, are there natural kinds as repository of causal dispositions? And, to what extent do our laws of nature express causal dispositions, and are read off natural kinds and their causal properties? Realists have traditionally answered the questions above in a positive way, while philosophers with empiricist leanings have answered the quest for causation, laws, and kinds with a moderate skepticism. The first aim of this course is to explore the motivation behind both realist and empiricist intuitions, and to assess their strengths and viability. The second aim is to try to explore whether a ‘third way’ about causation, laws, and kinds-somehow intermediate between realism and empiricism-is possible, or even desirable at all.
2633 / PHIL 2633 Philosophy of Cognitive Science
This course will survey the main philosophical questions raised by cognitive sciences. Students will acquire a comprehensive grasp of the main issues in this field. Lectures and readings will be taken from artificial intelligence, psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. We will discuss questions such as: Is the mind modular? Is the mind embodied and situated? Do we ascribe mental states by simulation or by means of a theory? What is consciousness? What are concepts?
2642 / PHIL 2625 Determinism
This seminar is intended as an introductory survey of major issues that arise in analyzing the concepts of determinism and causation. Roughly the first half of the course will be devoted to such questions as: What does it mean for the world to be deterministic? What are the relations among determinism, predictability, and randomness? What are the problems and prospects for determinism in various branches of physics? The second part of the course will survey the various approaches to causation, including counterfactual, interventionist, transference, and regularity accounts.
2679 / PHIL 2580 Philosophy of Mathematics
The current tradition in Epistemology of Mathematics rests on a fruitful restriction, to questions of (primarily logical and foundational) justification. In this course, we pursue broader epistemological inquiry into the power of mathematical thought, and illustrate philosophical avenues of approach. These involve rethinking mathematical reasoning in non-foundational, practice conceptions and taking into account the quality of representational contributions to mathematical reasoning. We will discuss case studies of mathematical concept formation (negative quantities in analytic geometry) and ones comparing competing representations. This will open up novel perspectives on the philosophy of language (improving a language to better deal with a class of problems) that go beyond the philosophy of mathematics. There will also be student presentations of term paper projects.
2689 / PHIL 2689 Explanations, Causes and Mechanisms
Machamer, Peter K.
The seminar will examine some recent philosophical writings on these three topics. Specifically we will analyze the nature of explanations by mechanisms in a variety of domains and fields, including social science, cognitive science, and neuroscience. We shall also consider multi-level explanations, such as those that relate persons to sub-personal states and environments. Along the way we shall discuss the issues of reduction, emergence, the space of reasons, and the nature of information as used in some sciences. If there is interest and time we may spend a session or two on discovery of mechanisms.