Unifying Life Sciences: Biological Cultures and Meanings of Life|
Fall 2006 not offered
What does it mean to integrate or unify sciences? Scientists and philosophers have often advocated the unity of science, but for much of the 20th Century, unification has been contested within the life sciences. None of the multiple programs for the unification of biology have comfortably integrated all of the life science disciplines, and they have differed substantially over the autonomy of the life sciences from chemistry and physics. This course will briefly address philosophical conceptions of the unity or disunity of science, and then examine four programs for unifying biology: the neo-Darwinian synthesis, molecular biology, artificial life, and developmental systems theory. The focus of this examination will be the relation between scientific practice (the concrete research activities undertaken on behalf of the program) and the cultural meanings of "life" associated with it. The course is an upper-level seminar in the Science in Society Program and the Philosophy Department, and is also intended to provide philosophical, historical, and cultural background for the Integrated Genomic Sciences initiative.
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|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Prerequisites: [SISP202 or PHIL287] OR [SISP205 or PHIL288] OR [BIOL182 or MB&B182]
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENVS)(SISP)(SISP-ScieDblMjr)
Smocovitis, UNIFYING BIOLOGY
Keller, CENTURY OF THE GENE
Sterelny and Griffiths, SEX AND DEATH
Kitcher, "1953 and All That"
Emmeche, THE MACHINE IN THE GARDEN (selections)
plus essays by some of Kohler, Haraway, Huxley/Dobzhansky/Mayr, Hull, Gilbert or Moss, Dawkins, Gould, Margulis, Helmreich, Langton, Griffiths & Gray, Lewontin, Griesemer, and/or others.
|Examination and Assignments: |
One or more seminar presentations, and either a term paper, or two mid-length papers.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This is an advanced course in philosophy of science and interdisciplinary science studies, and it engages in some detail with biological science. Few students will have background in all three of these areas. Ideally, the seminar will include students in science studies, philosophy, and several of the life sciences (the prerequisites are designed to enable such diversity). Students will be encouraged to focus their seminar presentations and papers in ways that draw upon and develop their specific interests. All participants in the seminar will need to assimilate the biological background (some of which is historical), however, so that some familiarity and facility with biological concepts and phenomena is essential.
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