"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.
|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.|
The following texts, designated 'primary,' will figure prominently in class discussion and analysis; a thorough understanding of their contents is advised:
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:
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:
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:
|(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.
|(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.
|(4) NATURAL SELECTION: TOPICS IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY|
| Primary Readings: Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, Chs. 1-11;|
Lewontin, Biology as Ideology, Chs. 1-6.
Supplemental Texts: Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Chs. 1-18;
Lewontin, The Triple Helix, Chs. 1-4.
Newton-Smith, A Companion, Chs. 3, 11, 46, 71.
|(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.
|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.
|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.
|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.|
Introductory / Syllabus
Dawkins, Chapters 1-4
Kuhn, Chapters 1-4 / H-O: Seminar Reports
Dawkins, Chapters 5-8
Kuhn, Chapters 5-8
Dawkins, Chapters 9-11
Labor Day - No Classes
Kuhn, Chapters 9 & 10
Lewontin, Chapters 1 & 2
Kuhn, Chapters 11-13
Lewontin, Chapters 3 & 4
Hacking, Chapters 1 & 2 / Seminar Report Topic Due
Lewontin, Chapters 5 & 6
Hacking, Chapters 3-5 / H-O: Research Papers
Seminar Reports 7-9
Hacking, Chapters 6-8
Seminar Reports 10-12
Hacking, Chapter BREAK
Review Period / Research Paper Due
Hacking, Chapters 9-11
Flanagan, Chapters 1 & 2
Hacking, Chapters 12-16
Flanagan, Chapters 3 & 4
Reichenbach, Chapters 1 & 2
Flanagan, Chapter 5
Reichenbach, Chapters 3 & 4
Flanagan, Chapter 6 - 6.5 / Discussion Topic Due
Reichenbach, Chapters 5 & 6
Flanagan, Chapter 6.6 - 6.11
Seminar Reports 1 - 3
Flanagan, Chapter 7
Jauch, Chapter 1
Thanksgiving Holiday - MTSU Closed
Jauch, Chapter 2 / Research Topic Due
Flanagan, Chapters 8.0 - 8.6
Jauch, Chapter 3
Flanagan, Chapters 8.7 - 8.15
Jauch, Chapter 4 / H-O: Discussion Papers
Seminar Reports 13-15 / Discussion Papers Due
Seminar Reports 4-6
Seminar Reports 16-18
Fall Break: No Classes
Middle Tennessee StateUniversity
|Office:||James Union Building: Room 307|
|Reserved Office Hours:||8:30-10:00 & 12:30-2:00, MWF;|
and by appointment
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