PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY

Philosophy 736-335-001

University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Fall 2010
Instructor: Luca FERRERO
Schedule: TR 5:00-6:15pm
Office: CRT 627
Lecture Room: CRT 309
tel. (414) 229-5903/4719
Office hour: Tue 4:00-5:00pm

email:

and by appointment

homepage: http://www.uwm.edu/~ferrero


Writing Coordinator: Amy FLOWERREE

Office: CRT 637
email:

Course Description

In this course, we will consider the philosophical questions raised by the nature and existence of living organisms and biological processes. What is life? What makes living organisms different from inanimate things? Could an artificially created machine or software be considered alive? Can the emergence of life be explained by natural selection alone or does it require an intelligent designer? What is the nature of evolutionary theory? Why have the ideas of natural selection and evolution been considered to be both 'dangerous' and among our 'greatest intellectual achievements'?

We will also discuss the philosophical implications of evolutionary theory: whether genes are 'selfish' and can be said to determine our behaviors; the 'nurture vs. nature' debate; how altruism might emerge from the interactions of self-interested organisms struggling for their own survival; whether evolutionary-style explanations can be applied to psychological and cultural phenomena. Readings: Sterelny & Griffiths's Sex and Death, Dennett's Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and a selection of recent papers. No biology background required. Students majoring in biology or related disciplines should contact the instructor about waiving the philosophy credits prerequisite.

REQUIRED TEXTS

 
Kim Sterelny & Paul E. Griffiths Sex and Death. An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology. University of Chicago Press
 R B
Daniel Dennett, Darwins Dangerous Idea, Simon and Schuster
(check corrections made by Dennett after publication at http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/errors.html )
 R B

See Syllabus for extra required readings for both Undergraduates and Graduates

Supplementary Readings

 
Elliott Sober. Philosophy of Biology, Westview Press R
David Hull, Michael Ruse (eds). Philosophy of Biology, Oxford University Press (hereafter HR) O R
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) various entries (see syllabus below)
O

Readings marked with B are available at People's Books Coop, 2122 East Locust St (Corner of Maryland and Locust, south of campus)
Readings marked with O are available online
Readings marked with R are on reserve at the Golda Meir Library

N.B. You are required to read the assigned texts before attending the lecture

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ON LINE RESOURCES


Make sure to check http://www.uwm.edu/~ferrero/phil-links-ferrero.htm for
Study Aid and On-line Resources in Philosophy

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SCHEDULE OF TOPICS AND READINGS

Date
Lecture
Topic
Readings
required readings are in larger underlined font
suggested extra readings are in smaller font
09/02
I Introduction Sterelny & Griffiths, Ch. 1
Dennett, Ch. 1


SEP: Philosophy of Biology
09/07
II Evolution And Natural Selection
Background Tutorial: Ridley, Natural selection and Variation

Sterelny & Griffiths, Ch. 2
Dennett, Ch. 2-3, 5-6

Hull, D., L., Langman, R., E. and Glenn, S., S. (2001) " A General Account of Selection: Biology, Immunology and Behavior." D2l
SEP: Evolution -- Darwinism -- Fitness -- Natural Selection
Dawkins "Universal Darwinism" HR 2
Sober Ch. 1 & 3

09/09
III
09/14
IV Evolutionary Explanations and Adaptationism Background Tutorial: Ridley, Adaptive Explanation

Gould - Lewontin "The Spandrels of St. Mark..."
Sterelny & Griffiths Ch. 10 (skip 10.2)
Dennett, Ch. 8-10.2

SEP: Adaptationism
Dennett, Ch. 10.3-10.4
Dennett, "The Interpretation of Texts, People and Other Artifacts"
Philosophy and phenomenological research (1990) 50, supplement:177-194.

09/16
V
09/21
VI Genes and the Units of Replication
Background Tutorial:
Ridley, Evolutionary genetics
Ridley, Molecular a nd Mendelian Genetics

Background Reading:
Sterelny & Griffiths, Ch. 6.2-6.5

Sterelny & Griffiths, Ch. 3-4 

SEP: Replication -- Gene -- Heredity -- Genotype-Phenotype

09/23
VII
09/28
VIII Developmental Systems Theory Sterelny & Griffiths, Ch. 5
Griffiths and Gray: "Developmental Systems and Evolutionary Explanations" HR 7


Ridley, Mark "Evolutionary Developmental Biology" in Evolution

09/30
IX
10/05
X Review and Catching Up

10/07
XI FIRST TEST
10/12
XII WRITING WORKSHOP
See instructions on my homepage
10/14
XIII
10/19
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FIRST PAPER DUE
10/19
XIV Units of Selection & Altruism Background Tutorial: Ridley, The units of selection

Sterelny & Griffiths Ch. 8 (up to p. 169)
Altruism in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Wilson, D.S. & Sober, E. (1994). Reintroducing group selection to the human behavioral sciences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4): 585-654.

SEP: Units and Levels of Selection
Brandon: "The Levels of Selection, A Hierarchy of Interactors" HR 9
Sober & Wilson "A Critical Review of Philosophical Work on the Units of Selection Problem" HR 10
Sober, Ch. 4

10/21
XV
10/26
XVI Individuals and Super-Organisms

Sterelny & Griffiths, pp. 170-179
Buss The Evolution of Individuality pp. 170-196 D2L
Sousa "Biological Individuality"

SEP: The Biological Notion of Individual --  Self in Biology
Wimsatt "The Ontology of Complex Systems: Levels, Perspectives and Causal Thickets", Canadian Journal of Philosophy supplementary volume #20, ed. Robert Ware and Mohan Matthen. 1994, pp. 207-274. [figures: 1. Complex Orderings - 2. Levels of Organization]

10/28
XVII
11/02
XVIII Evolutionary Psychology Sterelny & Griffiths Ch. 13 (optional Ch.14)
Cosmides Tooby Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer.

Dennett, Ch. 16-17

SEP: Evolutionary Psychology
Sober Ch. 7

SEP: Morality and Evolutionary Biology

11/04
XIX
11/09
XX Cultural Evolution & Memetics
Dawkins Viruses of the Mind In (B. Dalhbom, ed.) Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind. Blackwell.
Dennett, Ch. 12, 13.1 & 14.4
Dennett Memes: "Myths, Misunderstandings and Misgivings" 

SEP: Cultural Evolution

11/11
XXI
11/16
XXII What is life? Sterelny & Griffiths Ch. 15.1-15.2
Bedau, "The Nature of Life" sec. 1-3
Bedau "Four Puzzles About life"

SEP: Life
Margulis What is Life? Ch. 1

11/18
XXIII
11/23
XXIV Artificial Life Dennett, pp. 166-175
Sterelny & Griffiths Ch. 15.3
Bedau "Artificial Life"

DeSousa, R. "Time and Individuality in Artificial Life"

11/25
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THANKSGIVING
11/30
XXV WRITING WORKSHOP
See instructions on my homepage
12/02
XXVI
12/07
XXVII Evolution, Design, and Creation Background Tutorial: Ridley, The evidence for evolution

Sober: Ch. 2
SEP: Creationism

12/09
XXVIII

Review and Catching up


12/14
XIX

SECOND TEST




12/18
 
SECOND PAPER DUE 
 

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ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING POLICY

UNDERGRADUATES
Assessment of Participation in the Learning Process (20 %)

Class participation (attendance and participation in class discussion)

10%

Writing workshop participation including peer commentary

10%

Assessment of Factual Learning (30%)

2 In-class Tests

15% each

Assessment of Critical Reflection on Course Material (50%)

2 Papers (1300-1600 words each)

25% each

FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS [please note that Graduate Students have additional reading requirements to be announced in class]

Class participation

10%

Peer Commentaries in the writing workshop

10%

2 take-home tests

15% each

Final Research Paper (3600-4500 words // approximately 12-15 pages)

50%

 

click here to see the GRADING GUIDELINES

Please note that PLAGIARISM is a serious instance of Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism includes:

  1. Directly quoting the words of others without using quotation marks or indented format to identify them; or,
  2. Using sources of information (published or unpublished) without identifying them; or,
  3. Paraphrasing materials or ideas of others without identifying the sources.

UWM Policy concerning Plagiarism is available at http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/OSL/DOS/conduct.html 

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WRITING WORKSHOP

In this class, you are given the opportunity to benefit from the comments of your peers on the first draft of your papers. You must submit the first draft of the paper together with a detailed outline on the first day of the writing workshop. Two or three other students will be assigned to you as commentators. You will meet with them at the writing workshop and discuss with them how to improve your draft. You then have some more days to revise your draft before submitting the final version for grading (for the exact deadlines, see the schedule above). You will also be commenting on the work of two or three other students. You will receive their drafts on the day when your draft is due. You will turn in your written comments at the writing workshop.

Please note that the active participation in the writing workshop is REQUIRED in order to pass the class. Detailed instructions about the writing workshop will be distributed during the term and made available on my homepage at http://www.uwm.edu/~ferrero/writing-workshop.htm

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Academic Misconduct Policy: see http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/OSL/DOS/conduct.html

Drop/Audit Policy: Students will be allowed to drop the course up through the last day permitted by the Registrar. Likewise, students may elect to audit the course up through the last day permitted by the Registrar

Grievance and Appeals Policy: The Department of Philosophy has procedures for handling student grievance and grade-appeals. Information is available in the Department office, 612 Curtin Hall

Special Assistance: If you need special assistance, please contact me the first day of class

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