Courses I have been known to love teaching…
HPS 250H Introductory Philosophy of Science
This course introduces and explores central issues in the philosophy of science. Topics include scientific inference and method, the nature of scientific knowledge, and scientific explanation. We will consider some of the most influential writers in the field this past century, including the logical positivists, Popper, Kuhn, and more recent contributors to current debates. These later controversies include disagreements between scientific realists and antirealists, the idea of scientific progress, and the unity (or disunity) of the sciences.
HPS 350H Revolution in Science
A detailed investigation into a highly celebrated and important philosophical idea concerning the development of scientific knowledge: the notion of revolutions. We will consider, among other things, the process of theory change, whether theory choice is rational, and whether theoretical terms preserve their meanings across revolutions. In addition to classic work by Kuhn, we will consider the approach of sociologists of scientific knowledge, as well as feminist critiques of science and related notions of objectivity.
PHL 332H Issues in Metaphysics
This course considers different approaches to several of the core areas of metaphysics that underlie so much of the rest of philosophy. We will begin with the question of what exists, outlining accounts of things that some take to constitute basic ontological categories, such as particulars (e.g. objects, events), universals, facts, substances, and tropes. Other topics will include the notion of dispositional properties, primary and secondary qualities, the idea of natural kinds, the nature of causation, persistence and identity through time, and theories of truth.
HPS 1104H Models, Truth, and Representation
A seminar course focusing on the nature of representation, and more specifically, on how vehicles of representation in the sciences and elsewhere (such as models, diagrams, illustrations, etc.) are constructed so as to embody knowledge of their target systems. Topics include the “ontology” of models, the functions of representation, concepts of abstraction, idealization, and approximation, the epistemic status of representations, and analogies between representational practices in the sciences and in art. Seminars will combine lectures and student presentations. No specific philosophical background is required, but any prior training in the philosophy of science, epistemology, or metaphysics would be an asset.
HPS 5010H Fundamentals of the Philosophy of Science
The philosophy of science combines approaches from a variety of complementary sources: natural philosophy from ancient through early modern times, the history of the sciences, and sociology. This combination is examined by means of a survey of several core issues which have dominated the field since its birth as a distinct discipline. These include the role of logical positivism and empiricism as a founding movement, the historical turn in the philosophy of science in the 1960s, and various debates these movements have spawned, including those concerning realism and antirealism, and scientific practice-oriented philosophy. Prior philosophical training is an asset, but not required.
JPH 2192H Philosophy of Science
An introduction to the subject, focusing on central issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of the sciences. These include the nature of scientific knowledge and theories, various forms of realism and antirealism and questions raised by debates surrounding them (the semantics of theoretical terms, the underdetermination of theory by data, the possibility of scientific progress, the notion of approximate truth), and topics such as abstraction and idealization, modelling, and the possibility of reductionism. We will also consider perspectives offered by the sociology of scientific knowledge and feminist critiques. Sessions will combine lectures, student presentations, and discussions of classic and contemporary literature.