Natural Kinds (Fall 2020)
Marc Ereshefsky and I will lead this research seminar on philosophical views of natural kinds.
Mind, Matter, and God (Winter 2019)
Pragmatism (Winter 2019)
Mark Migotti and I led this research seminar on pragmatist philosophy.
Scientific Practice (Winter 2017)
Marc Ereshefsky and I led this research seminar as part of a collaborative research project, From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics [project site]. The seminar was organized into three parts. The first part covered introductory accounts of scientific practice from historical, sociological and philosophical accounts of scientific practice. These readings were selected to provide a common basis for graduate students to develop research projects related to scientific practice. The contents of the rest of the seminar were set by graduate student research projects. Students identified their own topic areas in the first part of the seminar. In the second part, students developed and present research topics and select readings related to their topics for the class to read and discuss. In the third part of the course, students read and discussed drafts of one another’s research papers.
Scientific Metaphysics (Fall 2016)
Marc Ereshefsky and I led this research seminar as part of a collaborative research project, From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics [project site]. The seminar was organized into three parts. The first part was devoted to introductory readings on scientific metaphysics. These readings provided overviews of naturalistic metaphysics, accounts of how metaphysics might be informed by science, and discussions of the relationship between philosophy of science and metaphysics. The contents of the rest of the seminar was set by graduate student research projects. Students identified their own topic areas in the first part of the seminar. In the second part, students developed and presented research topics and selected related readings for the class to read and discuss. In the third part of the course, students read and discussed drafts of one another’s research papers.
Explanation in the Social Sciences (Winter 2015)
This course focussed on how scientists should investigate and explain human behaviour. Different groups of scientists take different approaches, and we will examine several approaches. We started by concentrating on one approach, behavioural genetics. This was a good place to begin because it provided an opportunity to analyze the nature/nurture controversy. Then we examined several additional approaches, including social-environmental, molecular-genetic, and neurobiological approaches. We pursued our study by reading and critiquing two recent books on the philosophy of human-behavioural science: Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture by James Tabery and Studying Human Behavior: How Scientists Investigate Aggression & Sexuality by Helen Longino. After reading and discussing each book, the class interviewed each of the authors (James Tabery and Helen Longino).
Epistemology of Scientific Practice (Fall 2014)
This graduate seminar was based on my book manuscript, Why Genetics Succeeds; An Epistemology of Scientific Practice. This book, which brings together and develops ideas in much of my published research, develops a new epistemology for understanding the practice of science and the knowledge it produces. explored the nature of scientific knowledge by examining scientific practices. My practice-centered epistemology takes knowledge, at least in mature sciences such as genetics, to be organized by investigative approaches that assimilate strategic reasoning with situated theoretical reasoning. This assimilation offers only modest explanations of limited aspects of complex phenomena. But, it provides the means to manipulate, investigate, and eventually explain in piecemeal fashion aspects of a broad range of biological phenomena, a range that extends well beyond what current theories can even potentially explain.