Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington

Courses

 

Fall 20114

HPSC-X 100 Human Perspectives on Science
Kimberly Brumble
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:15PM
Sycamore Hall (SY) 002

This course constitutes an examination of ethical, conceptual, and legal problems arising in and about health care and biological science. Ethical frameworks will be applied to topics like euthanasia, stem cell research, withdrawal of treatment, the physician-patient relationship, research on human and animal subjects, medical consent, and public health. The emphasis will be on practical applications of ethical and legal theory. The course will emphasize philosophical reasoning and historical context in approaching these social and scientific topics.

HPSC-X 200 Scientific Reasoning (Second 8 week )
Staff
TuTh 5:45PM - 7:45PM
Wylie Hall (WY) 015

Patterns of scientific reasoning presented in a simple form useful to both nonscientists and prospective scientists for understanding and evaluating scientific information of all sorts. Illustrations in the natural, biological, behavioral, and biomedical sciences are drawn from a wide variety of historical and contemporary sources, including popular magazines and newspapers.

HPSC-X 220 Issues in Science: Humanistic
James Capshew
MoWe 3:00PM - 4:15PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

Trees are not only an essential part of our natural environment, they also contribute in many ways to our cultural heritage. This course provides an introduction to the study of trees, concentrating on understanding their role in ecosystems of the Earth as well as focusing on their venerable and diverse relationships with humanity. Trees supply basic necessities for shelter, fuel, building materials, food, and medicines. At the same time, they provide metaphors, symbols, and other cultural constructions that nurture connections to the environment. In the current Anthropocene epoch, the fate of human populations is inextricably bound to the health and sustainability of the world¿s forested areas. Learning goals include deeper understanding of the natural and cultural history of trees (including IU¿s woodland campus), practical orientations to ecological ethics, and passionate appreciation for the many roles trees play in daily life.

HPSC-X 300 Undergraduate Readings in HPSC
Sander Gliboff
ARR
ARR

Individualized readings for students minoring in history and philosophy of science. May be used with consent of instructor as an alternative to other undergraduate courses.

HPSC-X 327 The Computer: A Biography
Amit Hagar
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:15PM
Sycamore Hall (SY) 103

The purpose of this course is to expose the students to the history and the philosophy behind the development of the digital computer. Focusing on the major land marks in the history of computing machines (Babbage¿s difference engine, Turing¿s machine, the ENIAC,The IBM decades, the personal computer, the software industry, the internet, cybernetics, and quantum and DNA computing) we shall gain insight on the intricate relations between computer science, mathematics, physics, and modern society. This is a self contained class, with no prerequisites. Assessment will be based on weekly short writing assignments, group presentations in class, a mid term exam, a final group project and a final term paper.

HPSC-X 391 Phil Issues in Quantum Theory
Amit Hagar
We 10:00AM - 12:30PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

Demons in Physics

Many theories and models from physics are probabilistic. This observation raises several philosophical questions: What are probabilities in physics? Do they reflect objective chances which exist independently of the human mind? Or do they only express subjective credences and thus capture our own uncertainty about the world? Finally, which metaphysical lessons, if at all, can one draw from the largely probabilistic character of physics?

In this 4 credits research seminar we shall investigate these question through the lenses of two famous demons, namely Laplace¿s and Maxwell¿s, which have shaped the development of our best theories of matter, spacetime, and information.  Our discussion will be based on an open access volume of collected papers on the subject, augmented with additional articles and book chapters. Particular emphasis is laid upon statistical physics and quantum mechanics, whose basic mathematical structure will be explained in class. Assessment will be based on class participation, weekly writing assignments, and a final term paper.

HPSC-X 406 Surv of Hist of Sci up to 1750
Domenico Bertoloni Meli
Tu 1:00PM - 3:30PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

This is an introductory course designed for all students with an interest in the history of the sciences and their cultural contexts. We will cover select topics from Greek to early modern science, emphasizing both primary sources and contemporary historiographical debates. The course will pay particular attention to a number of figures, including Vesalius, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. We will include aspects of natural philosophy, astronomy, the medical disciplines, and the development of experiment. Students from a broad variety of backgrounds will be welcome and their varied expertise in the science, humanities, or languages will be valued highly. This is an introductory course designed for all students with an interest in the history of the sciences and their cultural contexts. We will cover select topics from Greek to early modern science, emphasizing both primary sources and contemporary historiographical debates. The course will pay particular attention to a number of figures, including Vesalius, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. We will include aspects of natural philosophy, astronomy, the medical disciplines, and the development of experiment. Students from a broad variety of backgrounds will be welcome and their varied expertise in the science, humanities, or languages will be valued highly.

HPSC-X 424 Neuropsychological Pathography
James Capshew
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:15PM
Ballantine Hall (BH) 137

What does it feel like to experience depression, autism, or bipolar disorder? Traumatic brain injury or stroke? Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer¿s, or locked-in syndrome?

This seminar explores personal narratives of mental trauma and psychological distress, and seeks to understand neurological damage and emotional affliction from the perspective of the sufferer as well as the scientist. We will read and discuss various sources, both literary and scientific, in our investigation of ideas of the self and personal identity, the social construction of illness, and the role of narrative in scientific understanding.

The major learning goal is to deepen understanding of neuropsychology through exposure and analysis of personal narratives, and to assess their contributions to clinical science, rehabilitative services, and prevalent notions of human resilience.

Among the books discussed are: Howard Dully, My Lobotomy; Siri Hustvedt, The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves; Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness; Dawn Prince-Hughes, Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism; Oliver Sacks, A Leg to Stand On; and William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.

3 credit hours of A&H. PSY P324: Abnormal Psychology is recommended as a prerequisite. Questions? Please contact the instructor.

HPSC-X 451 Scientific Understanding
Elisabeth Lloyd
Th 11:00AM - 1:30PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

We will review some of the most influential texts and figures of Anglo-American philosophy of science in the 20th-21st Century, aiming to give both undergraduate and graduate students a strong background in the key positions and issues that serve as the background of the field today. Students will read, study, discuss, and write about popular as well as controversial figures such as Karl Popper, Thomas S. Kuhn, Carl Hempel, Larry Lauden, N.R. Hanson, Imre Lakatos, Helen Longino, Bas van Fraassen, Ernst Nagel, Carol Cleland, Ian Hacking, and others. The syllabus for the course is oriented around topics for each week, and while the reading list is not long, the students are expected to read each selection three times before seminar meets. Class requirements involve weekly writings, seminar presentations, and a term paper on a choice of assigned topics (this last requirement for the graduate students only). The emphasis in this seminar is on sympathetic, fair interpretations of author¿s writings, respectful and deep discussion of the philosophical issues, and the development of responsible criticism. We usually also have lots of fun in this seminar.

HPSC-G 901 Advanced Research
Sander Gliboff
ARR
ARR

Available to graduate students who have completed all course requirements for their doctorates, have passed doctoral qualifying examinations, and have the requisite number of degree credit hours, this course provides the advanced research student with a forum for sharing ideas and problems under the supervision of a senior researcher.

HPSC-X 501 Professional Development Seminar
Sander Gliboff
Mo 2:00PM - 3:00PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

Designed for beginning graduate students, but repeatable for credit, this course addresses some of the practical aspects of professional life in History and Philosophy of Science and related fields. Topics include research tools, grant proposals, presentation  skills, research ethics, job applications, teaching, and challenges facing underrepresented groups in the academy.

HPSC-X 506 Survey of History of Science up to 1750
Domenico Bertoloni Meli
Tu 1:00PM - 3:30PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

This is an introductory course designed for all students with an interest in the history of the sciences and their cultural contexts. We will cover select topics from Greek to early modern science, emphasizing both primary sources and contemporary historiographical debates. The course will pay particular attention to a number of figures, including Vesalius, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. We will include aspects of natural philosophy, astronomy, the medical disciplines, and the development of experiment. Students from a broad variety of backgrounds will be welcome and their varied expertise in the science, humanities, or languages will be valued highly. This is an introductory course designed for all students with an interest in the history of the sciences and their cultural contexts. We will cover select topics from Greek to early modern science, emphasizing both primary sources and contemporary historiographical debates. The course will pay particular attention to a number of figures, including Vesalius, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. We will include aspects of natural philosophy, astronomy, the medical disciplines, and the development of experiment. Students from a broad variety of backgrounds will be welcome and their varied expertise in the science, humanities, or languages will be valued highly.

HPSC-X 551 Survey of the Philosophy of Science
Elisabeth Lloyd
Th 11:00AM - 1:30PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

We will review some of the most influential texts and figures of Anglo-American philosophy of science in the 20th-21st Century, aiming to give both undergraduate and graduate students a strong background in the key positions and issues that serve as the background of the field today. Students will read, study, discuss, and write about popular as well as controversial figures such as Karl Popper, Thomas S. Kuhn, Carl Hempel, Larry Lauden, N.R. Hanson, Imre Lakatos, Helen Longino, Bas van Fraassen, Ernst Nagel, Carol Cleland, Ian Hacking, and others. The syllabus for the course is oriented around topics for each week, and while the reading list is not long, the students are expected to read each selection three times before seminar meets. Class requirements involve weekly writings, seminar presentations, and a term paper on a choice of assigned topics (this last requirement for the graduate students only). The emphasis in this seminar is on sympathetic, fair interpretations of author¿s writings, respectful and deep discussion of the philosophical issues, and the development of responsible criticism. We usually also have lots of fun in this seminar.

HPSC-X 600 Advanced Readings Course
Sander Gliboff
ARR
ARR

No description available

HPSC-X 700 A M Thesis
Sander Gliboff
ARR
ARR

No description available

HPSC-X 706 SP Topics in History and Philosophy of Science
Jutta Schickore
Tu 8:30AM - 11:00AM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

This seminar explores the world of "Big Science" in its historical and philosophical dimensions. In the first part of the course, we will seek to clarify the many meanings of "big," including notions of scope, scale, and significance, as they relate to the rise of modern science. We will see how large-scale research has been treated in various historiographical contexts, including astronomy, high-energy physics, and biomedicine.
In the second part of the course, we will turn to epistemological and ethical issues arising from large-scale science and ¿big data¿. Topics include the epistemology of data-driven research, changes in standards of evidence, the role of trust and expertise in big science, epistemic values and the commercialization of research, and analyses of scientific authorship.

HPSC-X 755 SP Topics in Philosophy of Science
Amit Hagar
We 10:00AM - 12:30PM
Goodbody Hall (GB) 107

Demons in Physics

Many theories and models from physics are probabilistic. This observation raises several philosophical questions: What are probabilities in physics? Do they reflect objective chances which exist independently of the human mind? Or do they only express subjective credences and thus capture our own uncertainty about the world? Finally, which metaphysical lessons, if at all, can one draw from the largely probabilistic character of physics?

In this 4 credits research seminar we shall investigate these question through the lenses of two famous demons, namely Laplace¿s and Maxwell¿s, which have shaped the development of our best theories of matter, spacetime, and information. Our discussion will be based on an open access volume of collected papers on the subject, augmented with additional articles and book chapters. Particular emphasis is laid upon statistical physics and quantum mechanics, whose basic mathematical structure will be explained in class. Assessment will be based on class participation, weekly writing assignments, and a final term paper.

HPSC-X 800 PH D Thesis
Sander Gliboff
ARR
ARR

No description available

Spring 2014

X100-  The Science of Sex:  From Ancient Attitudes to Victorian Secrets
Ashley Inglehart
TR  4:0 pm-5:15 pm

This class is a survey course which goes from the Hippocratic corpus to Victorian Science in the 19th.  The focus of the class is on the physiological processes of reproduction in humans. Our study will include (but is not limited to) understandings of reproductive anatomy, varying theories of seeds, the discovery of the clitoris, theories about orgasms, and what contribution the female makes to reproduction. We will also look at issues of medicine, treatment, and disease –most notably Hysteria and the Great Pox (Syphilis). During the course, I will plan a trip to both the Lilly Library and the Kinsey Institute.

X100-Bioethics:  Applied Topics in the Biological Sciences & Medicine
Kimberly Brumble
TR (2nd 8 weeks) 5:45 pm-7:45 pm 

This course will survey ethical, legal, and philosophical problems concerning health care, medical research, biological research, and related topics. Topics may include euthanasia, abortion, withdrawal of treatment, consent, diagnostics, bias, the physician-patient relationship, research on human subjects, research on animal subjects, and genetic technology.  This course will hone students’ skills in analytic reading and writing, as well as the ability to make philosophic arguments.

X102-Science Revolutions: Plato to Nato
David Rogers
MWF 12:20 pm-1:10 pm
Sarah Reynolds
TR  (2nd 8 weeks) 4:00 pm-6:00 pm

Where did modern science come from? Is it a stockpile of technique and knowledge that has accumulated slowly and steadily over the centuries? This course presents a more complex and dynamic picture, in which the history of science also takes unexpected twists, turns and conceptual leaps, in response to changing social, political and religious interests, and to shifting scientific assumptions, methods, and forms of organization. The course introduces the most important formative steps in the scientific tradition, each of which overturned earlier ways of investigating and understanding nature. These include Aristotelian physics, Ptolmaic astronomy and Galenic medicine in the ancient and Medieval world; the scientific revolutions of the 15th- through the 18th centuries that ushered in Copernican astronomy, Newtonian physics, and new ideas about physiology and medicine; the chemical and Darwinian revolutions; and the rise of modern physics and other 20th-century innovations and problems.

X200-Scientific Reasoning
Nicholas Zautra
MWF 1:25 pm-2:15 pm
Shane Zappettini
MWF  2:30 pm-3:20 pm
Weston Evans
TR (2nd 8 weeks) 5:45 pm-7:45 pm

Science is the most successful way humans have found to produce knowledge of the world. But the success of science lies in the fact that it is not just a collection of facts and theories -- science's success comes from critical attitudes and methodologies.

This course covers topics essential for understanding scientific reasoning.  By the end of the course, students will understand the concepts of logical validity and soundness, laws of nature and scientific models, causation, principles of statistical reasoning, experimental design, and pseudoscience.  Other topics may include ethics in science, decision theory, and scientific realism.

X110-Scientists at Work: Frankenstein to Einstein
Professor James Capshew
MWF 11:15 am-12:05 pm

Course description TBA

X207-Occult in Western Civilization (Alchemy, Astrology, & Magic)
Professor William Newman
TR 9:30 am.-10:45 am

The occult is a theme that is deeply ingrained in the history of Western Civilization.  From antiquity to the present, segments of our society have laid claim to a secret wisdom that could only be revealed to those who are worthy of its exercise.  Such “occult” pursuits as alchemy, astrology, and magic played an important role in the formation of modern science during the scientific revolution of seventeenth century, and subsequently had a major impact on poetry, music and the pictorial arts.  And yet, if we considered pursuits that are usually deemed to make up “the occult,” it is remarkable how little these fields have to do with one another.  What does alchemy, and artisanal pursuit related to metallurgy, have in common with divinatory practices such as astrology, oneiromancy, or crystal-gazing?  What does witchcraft have to do with extraterrestrial life?  The Occult in Western Civilization will answer these questions and others.  It will also argue that the occult sciences-especially alchemy, astrology, and natural magic-were originally predicted on quite reasonable bases consistent with the best science and philosophy of their time, however, they may have been altered in late twentieth-century culture.  By thinking carefully about the relationships among science, philosophy, and those disciplines traditionally classified as “occult” students will learn about the nature of scientific knowledge more generally.  The basic goals of the course, then, will be to instill a historical understanding of the occult while at the same time stimulating philosophical reflection on the nature of scientific knowledge in general.

X320-History and Philosophy of Medicine
Professor Domenico Bertoloni Meli
TR 1:00 pm-2:15 pm

This class covers select episodes in the history and philosophy of medicine from antiquity to contemporary issues. We shall focus on anatomy, physiology, and the understanding of disease at different times, reading both historical accounts and some primary sources. Some of the topics and key figures include Hippocrates and Galen in antiquity, Andreas Vesalius in the Renaissance, the discovery of the circulation of the blood and the rise of microscopy in the 17th century, the rise of clinical medicine, pathology, Laennec and the stethoscope around 1800, and the changing understanding of diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer.

X326-History & Philosophy of Physics
Professor Jordi Cat
TR 1:00 pm-2:15 pm

This course surveys a selection of cultural and philosophical issues in the history of physics, from the time of Galileo to the 20th century, without requiring technical knowledge of physics.  Unfortunately, time will not allow for an examination of the relation between modern physics and tao mysticism, or of the question of why the best or most famous physicists have turned out to be quite ugly-looking. Instead, the course will begin with the questions, why did Copernicus and others believe that the Sun is at the center of the universe? And, should we? (the first revolution in the picture of the cosmos got Galileo in trouble with the Church; but how good was his evidence?) and, why should we trust numbers to describe the world?  (how bookkeeping and philosophy promoted the language of numbers as the reliable description of facts).  Other issues are, how propagation of motion by contact action (think bowling or pool) was considered more intelligible than action at a distance (but does it make sense?),  whether space is a real thing containing the bodies in the universe, whether matter can really be hard, how precise measurements of the properties of beer (recommended, along with tea, by the British government as an alternative to drinking polluted water) led to the principle of energy conservation, how energy conservation required elastic atoms, how modeling the ether survived to model the weather, how Einstein's most famous theory of relativity did not claim that everything is relative but it responded to the need to synchonize local clocks for the sake of train time tables, and changed how energy, matter, space and time were understood, how quantum physics gave us uncertainty as well as nuclear risk, and symmetries helped unified fundamenta ideas of space-time and matter. Physics and its history cannot be understood isolated from other sciences, natural and human, or from institutions, practices, ideas, objects and skills in art, philosophy, religion, politics, industry and society at large.

X407-History of Science since 1750 (meets with X507)
Professor Sander Gliboff
T 9:30 am-12:00 pm

This course provides an advanced introduction to and survey of science since 1750. Emphasizing recent secondary literature on canonical episodes, the course will consider the physical, biological, and earth sciences, science in international comparison and in social, political, intellectual, and institutional context, as well as the history of technology and medicine. There are no prerequisites, but some knowledge  of modern science or modern European or American history will be helpful.

X452-Modern Philosophy of science (meets with X552)
Professor Jordi Cat
TR 5:00 pm-6:15 pm

This course will trace the historical development of the philosophy of science from approximately early 17th century to the mid-twentieth century, beginning with a quick survey of the philosophies of Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Newton and Leibniz, then turning to the philosophy of Newtonian science developed by Immanuel Kant, its developments and reactions, and ending with French conventionalism, logical positivism, Popper and Quine. In the twentieth century philosophy of science begins to take shape as a specialized discipline within philosophy more generally. Its problems are motivated and framed by the interplay of earlier philosophical questions and more recent revolutionary developments in nineteenth century science: the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries, the wave theory of light and electrodynamics, thermodynamics and the conservation of energy, and molecular-atomic theory. Canons of scientific methodology were introduced in the 19th century in Britain by Herschel, Whewell and Mill. Work in philosophy of science was undertaken next by professional scientists attempting to come to terms with these new developments-in particular, by Herman Von Helmholtz, Ernst Mach, Pierre Duhem and Henri Poincaré. Around the turn of the century, philosophy of science is stimulated once again by revolutionary developments: Einstein relativity theory, on the one hand, and new work in logic and the foundations of mathematics by Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and David Hilbert, on the other.  Philosophical developments took place as well, such as neo-Kantianism and phenomenology. Philosophy of science was now pursued by professional philosophers, although most trained in the sciences, in particular Karl Popper and the members of the so-called Vienna Circle of logical positivists such as Moritz Schlick, Otto Neurath and Rudolph Carnap.  Neurath and Ernst Cassirer try to engage the social sciences as well. The work of all these philosophers sets the stage for most of post-war twentieth century philosophy of science. Alongside the relevant philosophical and scientific problems and ideas, this course will expose the students to examples of different approaches to the history of philosophy.

X507-History of Science since 1750 (meets with X407)
Professor Sander Gliboff
T 9:30 pm-12:00 pm

This course provides an advanced introduction to and survey of science since 1750. Emphasizing recent secondary literature on canonical episodes, the course will consider the physical, biological, and earth sciences, science in international comparison and in social, political, intellectual, and institutional context, as well as the history of technology and medicine. There are no prerequisites, but some knowledge  of modern science or modern European or American history will be helpful.

X552-Modern Philosophy of Sciences (meets with X452)
Professor Jordi Cat
TR 5:00 pm-6:15 pm

This course will trace the historical development of the philosophy of science from approximately early 17th century to the mid-twentieth century, beginning with a quick survey of the philosophies of Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Newton and Leibniz, then turning to the philosophy of Newtonian science developed by Immanuel Kant, its developments and reactions, and ending with French conventionalism, logical positivism, Popper and Quine. In the twentieth century philosophy of science begins to take shape as a specialized discipline within philosophy more generally. Its problems are motivated and framed by the interplay of earlier philosophical questions and more recent revolutionary developments in nineteenth century science: the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries, the wave theory of light and electrodynamics, thermodynamics and the conservation of energy, and molecular-atomic theory. Canons of scientific methodology were introduced in the 19th century in Britain by Herschel, Whewell and Mill. Work in philosophy of science was undertaken next by professional scientists attempting to come to terms with these new developments-in particular, by Herman Von Helmholtz, Ernst Mach, Pierre Duhem and Henri Poincaré. Around the turn of the century, philosophy of science is stimulated once again by revolutionary developments: Einstein relativity theory, on the one hand, and new work in logic and the foundations of mathematics by Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and David Hilbert, on the other.  Philosophical developments took place as well, such as neo-Kantianism and phenomenology. Philosophy of science was now pursued by professional philosophers, although most trained in the sciences, in particular Karl Popper and the members of the so-called Vienna Circle of logical positivists such as Moritz Schlick, Otto Neurath and Rudolph Carnap.  Neurath and Ernst Cassirer try to engage the social sciences as well. The work of all these philosophers sets the stage for most of post-war twentieth century philosophy of science. Alongside the relevant philosophical and scientific problems and ideas, this course will expose the students to examples of different approaches to the history of philosophy.

X705-Ecology of Place w/H Reynolds Biol Z620
Professor James Capshew
MW 2:30 pm-3:45 pm

Course description TBA

X705-Representations of the Body
Professor Domenico Bertoloni Meli
M 1:00 pm-3:00 pm

This course examines different aspects and forms of the representation of the body from the Renaissance to the 18th century, with special emphasis on the connections between anatomy and art. We will examine aspects such as the birth of illustrated anatomy treatises, representations of male and female bodies, of human and animal bodies, of healthy and diseased states. No previous anatomical knowledge is required to take this class.

X705-Medieval & Early Modern Magic, Astrology & Alchemy
Professor William Newman
M 10:00 am-12:30 pm

Course description TBA

X755 Chance in Physics
Professor Amit Hagar
We 2:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
GB 107

Many theories and models from physics are probabilistic. This observation raises several philosophical questions: What are probabilities in physics? Do they reflect objective chances which exist independently of the human mind? Or do they only express subjective credences and thus capture our own uncertainty about the world? Finally, which metaphysical lessons, if at all, can one draw from the largely probabilistic character of physics?

In this research seminar we will base our investigation of these questions on an open access volume of collected papers on the subject, augmented if needed with additional articles. Particular emphasis is laid upon statistical physics and quantum mechanics, whose basic mathematical structure will be explained in class. Many chapters in this volume reflect a desire to understand probabilities from physics as objective chances. These chances are characterized, e.g., as time-averages, as probabilities from a best system in the terms of David Lewis, or using the Boltzmannian typicality approach. Other chapters are sympathetic to a Bayesian view of probabilities in physics. The chapters about quantum mechanics elucidate the peculiar characteristics of quantum correlations and discuss strategies to justify the Born Rule.

X755-Pragmatism
Professor Elisabeth Lloyd
W 10:00 am-12:30 pm

We shall explore the American Pragmatists’ views, concentrating on their writings about scientific knowledge.  Reading assignments will focus on the original writings of Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George Mead, and criticisms and discussions of their work offered by their contemporaries, including Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore.
While the material of the seminar is primarily historical, our investigations will center around the following interpretive and evaluative aims:

  • To reconstruct and understand the positive theories of science and inquiry  advocated by Peirce, James, Dewey, and Me 
  • To understand and evaluate the pragmatists’ views of the aims and methods of philosophy itself
  • To evaluate key criticisms of these theories offered by their contemporaries
  • To consider whether Pragmatists’ views of science can provide anything of value to today’s philosophers

C105-Quantum Mysteries for Everyone
Professor Amit Hagar
MW 10:10 am-11:00 am

Quantum theory is the best theory we have of microscopic things, but it is also extremely hard to understand. We will begin this course by describing a few simple quantum experiments to see just why the theory is so strange, and then look more closely at the formalism of the theory and at the philosophical puzzles raised by its interpretations. After suggesting several solutions, we shall adopt a more instrumental view, on which these puzzles may be considered an important resource that, if harnessed, may have some surprising implications on the way we manipulate information and perform computations. Along the way, we will learn how to think critically and carefully about science and scientific theories. There will be weekly writing assignments of at most 1 page, three small tests, a group project, and a final multiple choice exam.