|This is a shelf course. A shelf course comprises a number of modules related to this broad area of study. Each module is a separate semester of study in this area and is offered in rotation. You can study TWO modules but you cannot study the same module twice.|
Subject Area: Philosophy
Module: "Philosophy of Biology" (Semester 1, 2011)
The understanding we have of our nature as biological beings, and perhaps more, is a fascinating topic which has captivated thinkers for thousands of years. In this module we will chart its history and focus on the developments in the recent past. We will begin by discussing the account of evolution by natural selection presented by Charles Darwin 150 years ago. We will chart responses to this account and how this account has changed our understanding of ourselves.
This module aims to introduce you to issues and ideas in the Philosophy of Biology that have widely informed intellectual debate and that have had a significant impact upon the ways in which we think about ourselves. You will discover what other people have thought about these matters, and you will be encouraged to think about them for yourself.
Module: " Aristotle's Philosophy of Science"
Aristotle is a giant in Western thought. His achievements can be gauged by the way those who came after him felt obliged to attack him. His Posterior Analytics provide a rich source of ideas which indicate his perspective on our ability to understand the world. A close reading of this primary text with other supporting texts illuminate a cluster of issues which have changed significantly over time. By focussing on learning how to read this text students come to appreciate that it is not just the substantive views of science which have changed over time but even more significantly the questions we think are important to ask.
This module is aimed at teaching students how to read philosophical texts. Learning how to uncover not just the views a philosopher is articulating but also the questions their theories are designed to answer.
Module: "Positivism and After"
The nature and reliability of knowledge is a perennial question at the heart of the philosophy of science. Is there a scientific method? How does science differ from other enterprises and other kinds of knowledge? This course places such questions in the context of answers of the ‘Logical Postivists (Empiricists)’ in the early 20th Century – the Vienna Circle, following Ludwig Wittgenstein. The module will introduce key ideas of the Positivists concerning the nature of science and its methods, including particularly the question of how we might distinguish genuine science from various forms of pseudo-science or ‘metaphysics’. These philosophical attempts to understand the nature of science led to a major re-evaluation following the work of Thomas Kuhn on the Structure of Scientific Revolutions and the course will examine the directions that philosophy of science took in this post-positivist period, including the sociological approaches of ‘science studies’.