Coursebooks 2017-2018


Philosophy of life sciences I


Lecturer(s) :

Arminjon Mathieu




Understand and discuss central issues in the philosophy of life sciences, for instance that of reductionism. Transpose problems and arguments from one debate to another. Evaluate the impact of the scientific worldview to the proper understanding of our human nature.



In terms of questions ...

Where lies, if at all, the conflict between evolutionary theory and religion? What does "dysfunction", what does "normal" may mean? Do they exist in nature? What is the relationship between biology and the microphysical world and that of different theories? What makes us a biological individual, how to define our species? Are we free to break the laws of nature or are we entirely determined by the laws of nature?

These questions, among many others, will be tackled in the philosophical reflection on the life sciences offered by this master module. Reflecting on these issues provides intellectual tools for a better understanding of today's science and technologies.


Evolutionary theory, Function, Dysfunction, Normes, Completeness of phyics, Reductionism, Emergentism, Pluralism, Explanatory autonomy, Natural kinds, Free will, Determinism, Indeterminism, Complex systems

Learning Prerequisites

Recommended courses

Philosophie et histoire des sciences A (HUM-216)

Philosophie et histoire des sciences B (HUM-238)

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

Transversal skills

Teaching methods

In autumn term:

Lecture/Seminar (English) + Supervision (English/French/German) of the elaboration of a project plan (individual plan of project).

In spring term:

Supervision of projects (indivual projects or group projects).

(More information and the precise schedule are provided at the beginning of the academic year)

Expected student activities

In autumn term:

The official workload of 90h (for the SHS program) are in fact required for good results, results obtained by:

Active participation at the lecture/seminar (preparation of each course; being capable of participating in the discussion).

Passing a test that is about the topics of the lecture/seminar (passing the test requires a good understanding of all topics of the lecture/seminar).

Elaboration of an individual project plan that is linked to at least one issue of the lecture/seminar (individual plan of project).


In spring term:

Realisation of a philosophical project (individual project or group project) that requires notably a critical lecture of articles and books (mostly in English), high level writing skills, working discipline and time management (the official workload of 90h for the SHS program are in fact required for good results).


(More information and the precise schedule are provided at the beginning of the academic year)

Assessment methods

Evaluation on a semester basis (grade associated to 3 ECTS).


In autumn term:

1) Result of the test + 2) Quality of the project plan (individual plan of project).


In spring term:

Realisation of the philosophical project (individual essay or group essay) according to the schedule and general philosophical standards.


(More information on philosophical standards and the precise schedule for the spring term are provided at the beginning of the academic year and during supervision of the project plan)


Office hours Yes
Assistants No
Forum No
Others More information about the supervision are provided at the beginning of the academic year.




(Other books and supplementary articles are proposed at the beginning of the academic year)

Ressources en bibliothèque

The support for each lecture will be provided during the term (pdf sent by e-mail directly to the students of the course).

In the programs

Reference week

Under construction
      Exercise, TP
      Project, other


  • Autumn semester
  • Winter sessions
  • Spring semester
  • Summer sessions
  • Lecture in French
  • Lecture in English
  • Lecture in German