IHPST Graduate Courses 2021-22 (mode of delivery still to be determined).
HPS1000H Introduction to History and Philosophy of Science Pro-Seminar
Day & Time: Fridays 12 to 2 noon
Course description: The HPS1100H Pro-Seminar (2021-22) will be dedicated to experiment (a form of reasoning) that is now widely regarded as the ultimate factfinder in science. What are the grounds for the conviction that experiments are the ultimate factfinders? On what grounds can be it claimed that experiments are uniquely privileged with respect to factfinding? How can we sort out experimental success from experimental failure? Given the richness and diversity of experiment across different fields of inquiry (the natural sciences, engineering, medicine, the social sciences, etc.), can we even have a general (philosophy) of experiment
We will explore the philosophy of experiment (and its historical construction) through case studies (Kuhn referred to this as teaching philosophy by example), starting with Bacon and Boyle and through the study of primary course material attempt to unpack some of the historical circumstances and cultural determinants that institutionalized experiment as our best defense against uncertainty.
HPS3009H Slavery, Medicine and Science in Historical Perspective
Day & Time: Thursdays 10-12
Course description: This course examines historical entanglements of science, medicine, and slavery. It articulates a critical reflection of both the many ways in which medicine and natural inquiry supported the institution of slavery and the settings in which slavery was integral to the production of modern medical and natural knowledge. At the same time, the course aims at casting light on the epistemic role of enslaved individuals and communities in the histories of science, medicine and technology. In recent years, a growing number of scholars have examined the institutional apparatuses of imperial science and medicine, paying special attention to the mobility of individuals, knowledge, practices, objects across the globe. However, the place of slavery in historical processes of production, movement and transfer of natural and medical knowledge has only started to be explored. This course draws attention to entanglements of slavery, science and medicine in different settings and regions. It considers how the study of these entanglements can potentially shift our perspective on the way we think and write about our discipline. Key themes and topics include the examination of the place of slavery in histories of: medicine and anatomy; gender and generation; medical experimentation; collecting and natural history; the rise of racial science and the making of collective identities; bodies, violence and the archive.
HPS2003H Introduction to the History of Biology
Day & Time: Mondays 10 to 12
Course description: This course provides an overview of selected major developments in the history of the life sciences, mainly in evolution and genetics in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It also examines key historiographical questions in the history of science. Each week we focus on one historical event and also on one historiographical issue in the history of science, but we will strive to connect them to earlier events and debates. The readings include primary sources, secondary sources, and historiographical discussions. We learn to interpret primary texts and use secondary literature in developing historical arguments.
HPS4020H Postcolonialism and the Global Turn in Science & Technology Studies
Day & Time: Tuesdays 2 to 4 pm
Course description: This seminar introduces graduate students to the role of postcolonial theory in generating a “global turn” in histories of science and the multidisciplinary field of science & technology studies (STS). We will analyze and discuss the key critiques of historical and social studies of science by postcolonial scholars, debate the theoretical and methodological significance of ideas like “global perspectives,” the “Global South,” and “non-Western science” in STS. To evaluate the impact of these ideas on the field, we will review recently published case studies applying postcolonial approaches to histories of science, technology, and medicine. Students will also have the opportunity to compare these approaches with the related but distinct concepts of decoloniality emerging from Indigenous studies, and to consider how postcolonial STS can inform their own ongoing research.”
HPS4040H Computing and Information from Babbage to AI
Day & Time: Mondays 10-12
Course description: In this course, we examine the history of modern computing and information technology and science from the calculating engines during the Industrial Revolution to today’s Artificial Intelligence. We concentrate on their technical developments, political, institutional, and cultural contexts, and societal implications. We review the central scholarly works and selected primary sources on the subject.
HPS3010H Social Epistemology
Day & Time: Tuesdays 10 to 12 noon
Course description: Traditionally, epistemology has dealt with the ways in which an individual acquires knowledge through perception and reasoning. However, in recent years it has become apparent that the traditional discussions of knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular, fail to capture important aspects of the social dimension of knowledge. We acquire most of our beliefs from the testimony of others, including experts, and from social institutions that are in charge of the generation of knowledge. The relatively recent branch of philosophy that deals with the social dimensions of knowledge is called social epistemology. It has developed through dialogue with the history of science, sociology of scientific knowledge, anthropology, and philosophy of science. The course will provide an introduction to social epistemology, in general, and social epistemology of science, in particular. It will deal with various aspects of the nature of knowledge from this new perspective, including issues such as the development of scientific knowledge, ‘knowledge that’ (something true) vs. ‘knowledge how’, the influence of social and cultural factors on scientific methodology, scientific rationality and scientific knowledge, scientific realism vs. social constructivism, distributive cognition, holism vs. methodological individualism, trust, expertise, consensus, distributive epistemic injustice, and feminist epistemology.
HPS4300H The Historian’s Craft: Sources, Methods and Approaches
Day & Time: Thursdays 12 to 2
Course description: This graduate seminar offers an introduction to the principles of research in the history of science, medicine, and technology (HSMT). Through a close examination of classic texts and recent publications in the field, it focuses on sources, methods, and approaches in the practice of HSMT. We will explore the major genres—history of ideas, individuals, institutions, disciplines, and networks—as well as the main modes of analysis—intellectual, social, and cultural—employed in the field. The seminar will emphasize the development of skills essential to the profession—good writing, attentive reading, analytical thinking, concise presentation, academic debate, and historiographic and methodological knowledge. Each week, we will examine in depth a particular genre or level of analysis based on assigned readings and book presentations.
HPS4011H Cognitive Technologies: Philosophical Issues and Debates
Day & Time: Fridays 10 to 12
Course description: Many technological developments have brought with them significant changes in both the modes and scope of human thinking, including how we learn, how we remember, and how we perceive and engage with the world. This seminar will introduce graduate students to philosophical issues and debates that arise from the development of cognitive technologies. We will analyze and discuss key epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues that sit at the intersection of philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of technology, and neuroethics. Topics covered will include situated views of cognition, cognitive artifacts, cognitive enhancement, and artificial intelligence.
HPS3001H Philosophy of Biology
Dat &Time: Thursday 4-6
Course description: The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis is the current orthodox theory of evolution. It arose early in the 20th Century through an amalgamation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and Mendel’s theory of inheritance. It is now coming up for a century of unprecedented success. (The first serious intimation of a synthesis was produced by Fisher in 1918). Recently, however, the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis has begun to receive a battery of challenges. These arise mostly from empirical work in development, inheritance, the evolution of novelties inter alia. The challenges have provoked biologists, historians and philosophers to re-evaluate the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, to investigate its conceptual foundations, to explore its possible limitations. Increasingly calls for an extensive revision, expansion, or wholesale rejection of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis— as well as systematic defences of the Synthesis— are being heard. The objective of this seminar series is to investigate the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, its formulation, its conceptual foundations, the empirical and conceptual challenges it faces, and its prospects for survival or revision.