HUM-429 / 3 crédits

Enseignant: Sachse Christian

Langue: Anglais


Summary

Understand and discuss central issues in the philosophy of life sciences, e.g. that of reductionism or why free will might be an illusion. Transpose problems and arguments from one debate to another. Evaluate the impact of the scientific worldview to the proper understanding of our human nature.

Content

Keywords

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

POLY-perspective :

  • interdisciplinary perspective
  • citizen perspective

https://www.epfl.ch/schools/cdh/cdhs-vision/

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Synthesize philosophical debates and problems.
  • Analyze philosophical texts on your own.
  • Assess / Evaluate arguments and positions during the course discussion.
  • Assess / Evaluate arguments and positions on your own in written form.
  • Critique the position of others (students/teacher).
  • Develop your own approach to a philosophical debate.
  • Transpose arguments and problems from one debate to another.
  • Generalize particular problems and arguments.

Transversal skills

  • Set objectives and design an action plan to reach those objectives.
  • Plan and carry out activities in a way which makes optimal use of available time and other resources.
  • Use a work methodology appropriate to the task.
  • Evaluate one's own performance in the team, receive and respond appropriately to feedback.
  • Assess one's own level of skill acquisition, and plan their on-going learning goals.
  • Take feedback (critique) and respond in an appropriate manner.
  • Write a literature review which assesses the state of the art.
  • Summarize an article or a technical report.

Teaching methods

In autumn term:

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

In spring term:

Supervision of projects + Presentation/Discussion of your research 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).

Forming a small group for the elaboration of a research project plan that is linked to at least one issue of the lecture/seminar (for instance your position w.r.t. the definition of our species).

 

In spring term:

Realisation of the research 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 research project plan of your group.

 

In spring term:

Realisation of the philosophical research project (group essay) according to the schedule and general philosophical standards + Presentation of the project.

 

(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)

Supervision

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

Resources

Bibliography

  • Sober, Elliott (2000): Philosophy of biology. Boulder: Westview Press.
  • Ariew, André & Cummins, Robert & Perlman, Mark (eds.) (2009): Functions. New essay in the philosophy of psychology and biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kim, Jaegwon (2005): Physicalism, or something near enough, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Bouchard, Frédéric & Huneman, Philippe (eds.) (2013): From groups to individuals. Evolution and emerging individuality. Cambridge (Mass.): MIT Press.
  • Kane, Robert (ed.) (2011): The Oxford Handbook of free will. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

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

Ressources en bibliothèque

Notes/Handbook

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

Dans les plans d'études

  • Semestre: Automne
  • Forme de l'examen: Pendant le semestre (session d'hiver)
  • Matière examinée: Philosophy of life sciences I
  • Cours: 2 Heure(s) hebdo x 14 semaines
  • Projet: 1 Heure(s) hebdo x 14 semaines
  • Semestre: Automne
  • Forme de l'examen: Pendant le semestre (session d'hiver)
  • Matière examinée: Philosophy of life sciences I
  • Cours: 2 Heure(s) hebdo x 14 semaines
  • Projet: 1 Heure(s) hebdo x 14 semaines

Semaine de référence

 LuMaMeJeVe
8-9     
9-10     
10-11     
11-12     
12-13     
13-14     
14-15     
15-16     
16-17     
17-18     
18-19     
19-20     
20-21     
21-22