HPS 2501 Philosophy of Science (Core)
Dr. James F. Woodward
Cross-listed with PHIL 2600/10480
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.
HPS 2504 History of Genetics: Mendel to Methylation
Dr. Michael Dietrich
In this course we will survey major developments in the history of genetics from Mendel to contemporary research on epigenetics. Drawing upon a mix of primary and secondary sources, we will consider how systems of practice in genetics reflect their wider social contexts, how choices of problems and organisms shaped genetic research programs, how the rise of molecular biology transformed genetics and lead to the genomic era, and how epigenetics has challenged the scope of our understanding of inheritance.
HPS 2505 Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science
Dr. Colin Allen
The cognitive sciences began with great enthusiasm for the prospects of a successful multi-disciplinary attack on the mind. This enthusiasm was fueled by the faith that computational ideas could put flesh on abstract notions of mental representation, providing the means to make good physical sense of questions about the nature of mental information processing. The challenges of understanding how minds work have turned out to be much greater than many of the early enthusiasts predicted — in fact they have turned out to be so great that many have argued that we need new paradigms to replace the computationalist-representationalist assumptions of traditional cognitive science. This course aims to provide an understanding of the historical origins of these foundational discussions, and to apply this understanding to a specific topic in the philosophy of cognitive science. For Fall 2018 that topic will be the relevance or irrelevance of Shannon’s information theory to cognitive science.
HPS 2522 Special Topics in History of Science: Women in and out of Science
Dr. Paolo Palmieri
This open-platform seminar questions the presence and absence of women in science from antiquity to the twenty-first century. The pedagogy of the seminar is student-centered and promotes intellectual and identity emancipation. Participants are welcome from all academic fields and perspectives, including (but not limited to!) Africana, the history and philosophy of science, philosophy, psychoanalysis, feminism, literature, cultural studies, fine arts, theater, ethnicity and different abilities. We will debate visibility, oppression, objectification, seclusion, the denial of sexuality, violence, institutional racism, and the role of hierarchies in marking disciplinary boundaries… [place holder for participants’s suggestions]. Examples of women in classical science include Virginia Galilei, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Émilie du Châtelet, Clémence Royer. We will read women scholars who have contributed to women science studies, for instance, Joy Harvey, Banu Subramaniam, Lynn Hankinson Nelson, Justine Larbalestier… [place holder for participants’s suggestions]. Readings, writing and creative projects, punctuated silence, and colorful patterns of resistance are encouraged. Activism and disobedience on diversity, sexual preference, political and linguistic difference, and ethnicity are welcome.
HPS 2590 Einstein 1905
Dr. Harvey Brown
This seminar will involve the study of papers related to (i) the historical origins of Einstein’s contributions to physics in his annus mirabilis 1905, with special emphasis on his special theory of relativity in the context of discoveries in nineteenth century either theories, and (ii) the origins of his general theory of relativity and its cosmological implications.
HPS 2626 Recent Topics in Philosophy of Physics
Dr. Harvey Brown
This seminar will involve the study of papers related to some or all of the following topics in the philosophy of physics:
recent controversies concerning the nature of explanations in special and general relativity
the role of probability in prominent interpretations of quantum mechanics
the origins of time asymmetry in thermodynamics and the understanding of the arrow of time in statistical mechanics
assorted issues related to symmetry principles in physics, such as Noether’s theorems and the Aharonov-Bohm effects