PHIL 4500 - Philosophy of Science - Fall 2014

Syllabus
 

InstructorObjectivesTextsTopicsAssignmentsGradesDisabilitiesCalendar

                  ORIENTATION
   "The Garden of Eden was lost for partaking of the fruit of the
   tree of knowledge of good and evil, lost not for lust but for
   curiosity, not for sex but for science" (Nelson Goodman).
   In this course, neither fluency nor even passing acquaintance
   with the history and practice of Western science is presupposed;
   curiosity, on the other hand, is. Curiosity, notwithstanding the
   proverbial fate of the proverbial cat, lies at the marrow of all
   intellectual passion—where art , science, and philosophy cohere
   as one single instinct: the irrepressible human need to explore, to
   explain, to inquire.


Course Objectives
The course will provide an overview of traditional problems and some recent developments in the philosophy of science. While a number of specific theories and agenda (e.g., relativity theory, quantum mechanics, sociobiology, artificial intelligence) are discussed, emphasis is placed on the conceptual consequences modern science imposes generally on our basic philosophies of knowledge and nature. Topics in both the natural and social sciences will be covered; after considering the experimental and/or theoretical results obtained by selected research communities within the special sciences, students will be encouraged to advance and criticize a variety of philosophical views concerning the aims, methods, and achievements of these sciences.

Course Materials

Required Texts

The following texts, designated 'primary,' will figure prominently in class discussion and analysis; a thorough understanding of their contents is advised:

  • Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design, Reissue. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996.
  • Flanagan, Owen J. The Science of the Mind, 2nd Ed., Revised and Expanded. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991.
  • Hacking, Ian. Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosoophy of Natural Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Jauch, Josef. M. Are Quanta Real?: A Galilean Dialogue. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press (Midland Books: No. 545), 1990.
  • Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Third Edition. University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • Lewontin, R.C. Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. Harper Collins, 1991.
  • Reichenbach, Hans. From Copernicus to Einstein. New York: Dover Publications, 1980.
Recommended Texts

The following texts, designated 'supplemental,' provide additional commentary on, background for, or development of the central issues discussed in the course; a limited supply of these texts will be available in the bookstore:
  • Aczel, Amir. Entanglement. New York: Plume, 2003.
  • Dennett, Daniel C. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. Reprint Edition. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
  • Deutsch, David. The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World. New York: Viking Books, 2011.
  • Lewontin, R.C. The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.
  • Newton-Smith, W.H., ed. A Companion to the Philosophy of Science. (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2001.
  • Sartori, Leo. Understanding Relativity: A Simplified Approach to Einstein's Theories. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995.

Course Downloads


Course Supplements

Topics

The following texts are designed to provide finer grains of analysis for the discussion of course topics than can ordinarily be developed during lecture periods; they should be consulted pro re nata:

Teloi

Texts

The following links locate bits and pieces of the recquired and recommeded texts for this course; while they cannot substitute for their fibrous ancestors, these however partial electronic texts can be of great use to the scholar-cum-laptop, when in transit or otherwise electronically engaged:


Course Division

(1) RATIONALITY, REALISM, & THE PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE
       Primary Readings:  Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chs. 1-13;
                                       Hacking, Representing and Intervening, Chs. 1-16.
      Supplemental Texts: Newton-Smith, A Companion, Chs. 23, 27-32, 52, 58, 63-65.
                                       Deutsch, Beginning of Infinity, Chs. 1, 2, 5, 10, 12, 18.

(2) REASON AND RELATIVITY: THE PHILOSOPHY OF SPACE AND TIME
       Primary Readings:  Reichenbach, From Copernicus to Einstein, Chs. 1-6.
     Supplemental Texts:  Sartori, Understanding Relativity, Chs. 1-6;
                                       Newton-Smith, A Companion, Chs. 16, 36-39, 67.

(3) QUANTUM QUESTIONS: ONTOLOGY AND THE NEW PHYSICS
       Primary Readings:  Jauch, Are Quanta Real? Chs. 1-4.
     Supplemental Texts:  Aczel, Entanglement, Chs. 1-20;
                                       Newton-Smith, A Companion, Chs. 5, 28, 40, 48, 53, 55, 72.
                                       Deutsch, Beginning of Infinity, Ch. 8.

(4) NATURAL SELECTION: TOPICS IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY
       Primary Readings:  Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, Chs. -11;
                                       Lewontin, Biology as Ideology, Chs. 1-6.
     Supplemental Texts:  Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Chs. -18;
                                       Lewontin, The Triple Helix, Chs. 1-4.
                                       Newton-Smith, A Companion, Chs. 3, 11, 46, 71.
                                       Deutsch, Beginning of Infinity, Chs. 3, 4, 6, 15-16.

(5) MODELING MENTALITY: TOPICS IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
       Primary Readings:  Flanagan, The Science of the Mind, Chs. 1-8;
     Supplemental Texts:  Newton-Smith, A Companion, Chs. 45, 50, 66, 69.
                                       Deutsch, Beginning of Infinity, Chs. 7, 13 .


Assignments and Course Mechanics
A calendar of readings, discussion topics, and written assignments is provided below. Since the readings will serve as the primary springboard for discussions, it is vital that you be familiar with whatever texts are appropriate to a topic BEFORE that topic is covered in class. Class discussion will approximate seminar format, so joint inquiry will generally take precedence over ex cathedra lecture.

There will be two (2) written assignments (papers) and one in-class presentation (seminar report) as follows.

(1)  Research Report. (no more than six double-spaced typed pages) on some historically significant scientific discovery or theoretical innovation.

(2)  Seminar Report. (no more than ten double-spaced typed pages), with topics selected from unsettled issues under current scientific investigation.

(3)  Discussion Paper. (no more than fifteen double-spaced typed pages) on a philosophical or theoretical issue covered in class.


Grades
Ten percent of the final grade will reflect class participation. The remaining ninety percent of the final grade will be based on the following division (total possible points = 100):

   (a)  Research Report:    20 pts.
   (b)  Seminar Report:     30 pts.
   (c)  Discussion Paper:   50 pts.


Accomodation for Students with Disabilities
If you have a disability that may require assistance or accommodation, or you have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers, etc., please speak with your instructor as soon as possible. Students may also contact the Office of Disabled Students Services (898-2783) with questions about such services.




Course Calendar
 

DATE

MATERIALS COVERED

DATE

MATERIALS COVERED

A. 25

Introductory / Syllabus

15

Dawkins, Chapters 1-4

27

Kuhn, Chapters 1-4 / H-O: Seminar Reports

17

Dawkins, Chapters 5-8

29

Kuhn, Chapters 5-8

20

Dawkins, Chapters 9-11

S. 01

Labor Day - No Classes

22

Review Period

03

Kuhn, Chapters 9 & 10

24

Lewontin, Chapters 1 & 2

05

Kuhn, Chapters 11-13

27

Lewontin, Chapters 3 & 4

08

Hacking, Chapters 1 & 2 / Seminar Report Topic Due

29

Lewontin, Chapters 5 & 6

10

Hacking, Chapters 3-5 / H-O: Research Papers

31

Seminar Reports 7-9

12

Hacking, Chapters 6-8

N. 03

Seminar Reports 10-12

15

Hacking, Chapter BREAK

05

Review Period / Research Paper Due

17

Hacking, Chapters 9-11

07

Flanagan, Chapters 1 & 2

19

Hacking, Chapters 12-16

10

Flanagan, Chapters 3 & 4

22

Reichenbach, Chapters 1 & 2

12

Flanagan, Chapter 5

24

Reichenbach, Chapters 3 & 4

14

Flanagan, Chapter 6 - 6.5 / Discussion Topic Due

26

Reichenbach, Chapters 5 & 6

17

Flanagan, Chapter 6.6 - 6.11

29

Seminar Reports 1 - 3

19

Flanagan, Chapter 7

O. 01

Jauch, Chapter 1

21

Flanagan, Chapters 8.0 - 8.6

03

Jauch, Chapter 2 / Research Topic Due

24

Flanagan, Chapters 8.7 - 8.15

06

Jauch, Chapter 3

26

Thanksgiving Holiday - MTSU Closed

08

Jauch, Chapter 4 / H-O: Discussion Papers

28

Thanksgiving Holiday - MTSU Closed

10

Seminar Reports 4-6

D. 01

Seminar Reports 13-15 / Discussion Papers Due

13

Fall Break: No Classes

03

Seminar Reports 16-18






Instructor Information

Instructor:RonBombardi
Department of Philosophy
Middle Tennessee State University
Email: Ron Bombardi
Office:James Union Building: Room 307
Telephone:615-898-2049
Reserved Office Hours:8:00-9:00 & 11:30-12:30, MWF;
9:00-10:00, TR;
and by appointment





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