History and Philosophy of Science Descriptions

HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

History and Philosophy of Science major

A major in History and Philosophy of Science requires 48 credit points from this table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 3000-level core units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level interdisciplinary project units
(v) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

History and Philosophy of Science minor

A minor in History and Philosophy of Science requires 36 credit points from this table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level units drawn from core, interdisciplinary project and selective units

Units of study

The units of study are listed below.

1000-level units of study

Core
HPSC1000 Bioethics

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Assoc. Professor Dominic Murphy Session: Intensive January,Intensive June,Semester 1 Classes: Three 1 hour lectures and one 1 hour tutorial per week Prohibitions: HPSC1900 Assessment: 3 x 1,250 word papers and tutorial work Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: This Junior unit of study is highly recommended to Intermediate and Senior Life Sciences students.
Science has given us nearly infinite possibilities for controlling life. Scientists probe the origins of life through research with stem cells and embryos. To unlock the secrets of disease, biomedicine conducts cruel experiments on animals. GM crops are presented as the answer to hunger. Organ transplantation is almost routine. The international traffic in human body parts and tissues is thriving. The concept of brain death makes harvesting organs ethically more acceptable. It may also result in fundamental changes in our ideas about life. Science has provided new ways of controlling and manipulating life and death. As a consequence, difficult ethical questions are raised in increasingly complex cultural and social environments. This course will discuss major issues in the ethics of biology and medicine, from gene modification to Dolly the sheep. This unit will be introductory, but a small number of topical issues will be studied in depth. No scientific background beyond Year 10 level will be assumed.
Textbooks
Weekly readings
HPSC1900 Bioethics (Advanced)

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Assoc. Professor Dominic Murphy Session: Semester 1 Classes: Three 1 hour lectures, one 1 hour tutorial per week. Prohibitions: HPSC1000 Assumed knowledge: (ATAR 90 or above) or equivalent Assessment: 3 x 1,250 word papers and tutorial work Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
The topics covered by HPSC1000 - Bioethics will be treated in more depth, in a special tutorial set aside for Advanced students.
Textbooks
Weekly readings
HPSC1001 What is this Thing Called Science?

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith Session: Semester 2 Classes: 2x1-hr lectures; 1x1-hr online study; and 1x1-hr tutorial per week Prohibitions: HPSC2101 or HPSC2901 or HPSC1901 Assessment: 1000-word essay (20%), 2x 2000-word essays (each worth 30%), 10x online exercises (10%), tutorial participation (10%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
What distinguishes creationism from evolutionary theory, or astrology from astronomy? Can we have good reason to believe that our current scientific theories represent the world "as it really is"? This course critically examines the most important attempts to describe the scientific method, to draw a line dividing science from non-science, and to justify the high status generally accorded to scientific knowledge. Views studied include Karl Popper's idea that scientific theories are falsifiable in principle, Thomas Kuhn's proposal that science consists of a series of paradigms separated by abrupt scientific revolutions, and various claims that science cannot really be distinguished from other approaches to knowledge. This unit of study also explores contemporary theories of evidence and explanation, the role of values in science, sociological approaches to understanding science, feminist perspectives on science, and the nature of scientific consensus.
Textbooks
Godfrey-Smith, P (2003). Theory and Reality. The University of Chicago Press. USA/ Curd, Cover and Pincock (2013). Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues (2nd edition). W. W. Norton and Company.
HPSC1901 What is this Thing Called Science? (Adv)

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith Session: Semester 2 Classes: 2x1-hr lectures; 1x1-hr online study; and 1x1-hr advanced tutorial per week Prohibitions: HPSC2101 or HPSC2901 or HPSC1001 Assumed knowledge: (ATAR 90 or above) or equivalent Assessment: 1000-word essay (20%), 2x 2000-word essays (each worth 30%), 10x online exercises (10%), tutorial participation (10%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
What distinguishes creationism from evolutionary theory, or astrology from astronomy? Can we have good reason to believe that our current scientific theories represent the world "as it really is"? This course critically examines the most important attempts to describe the scientific method, to draw a line dividing science from non-science, and to justify the high status generally accorded to scientific knowledge. Views studied include Karl Popper's idea that scientific theories are falsifiable in principle, Thomas Kuhn's proposal that science consists of a series of paradigms separated by abrupt scientific revolutions, and various claims that science cannot really be distinguished from other approaches to knowledge. This unit of study also explores contemporary theories of evidence and explanation, the role of values in science, sociological approaches to understanding science, feminist perspectives on science, and the nature of scientific consensus.
Textbooks
Godfrey-Smith, P (2003). Theory and Reality. The University of Chicago Press. USA/ Curd, Cover and Pincock (2013). Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues (2nd edition). W. W. Norton and Company.

2000-level units of study

Core
HPSC2100 The Birth of Modern Science

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Ofer Gal Session: Intensive January,Semester 1 Classes: 1 x 2 hour lecture, 1 X 1 hour tutorial, 1 x 1 hour independent online work. Prerequisites: 24 credit points of Junior units of study Prohibitions: HPSC2900 Assessment: 10x short quizzes (24%), 10x 100wd questions (26%), 3x essays (250wd; 500 wd; 750 wd ¿ together 30%), 10x online activities (10%), class participation (10%) Mode of delivery: Block mode
Modern culture is a culture of science and modern science is the outcome of a historical process of 2,500 years. In this course we investigate how traditional knowledge gradually acquired the characteristics of 'science': the social structure, contents, values and procedures we are familiar with. We will look at some primary chapters of this process, from antiquity to the end of the seventeenth century, and try to understand their implications to understanding contemporary science in its culture.
Textbooks
Weekly readings
HPSC2900 The Birth of Modern Science (Advanced)

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Ofer Gal Session: Semester 1 Classes: 1 x 2 hour lecture, 1 X 1 hour tutorial, 1 x 1 hour independent online work. Prerequisites: 24 credit points of Junior study with a Distinction average Prohibitions: HPSC2100 Assessment: 10x short quizzes (24%), 10x 100wd questions (26%), 3x essays (250wd; 500 wd; 750 wd ¿ together 30%), 10x online activities (10%), class participation (10%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
The topics covered in 'The Birth of Modern Science' will be covered in more depth, in a special tutorial set aside for advanced students.
Textbooks
Weekly readings
HPSC2011 Science, Ethics and Society

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Daniela Helbig Session: Semester 2 Classes: 2 X 1 hour lecture PLUS 1 X 1 hour tutorial per week and an online component. Prohibitions: HPSC3107 Assumed knowledge: Students should be familiar will introductory material in Philosophy of Science, Ethics or Sociology. Assessment: short essay (15%), final essay (30%), presentation (15%), quizzes (20%), classroom and online tutorial participation (20%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Science and technology are powerful modern institutions, and they are social endeavours, undertaken and often contested by different groups of people in different historical, cultural, political, and geographical contexts. These social underpinnings are the subject of this course. What does it mean to say scientific knowledge is socially constructed? How does science relate to social and political values? Can scientific facts simply be independent of these values? Should they be independent? Scientific knowledge is often difficult to understand without years of training, and yet this knowledge is crucial to social welfare and to political and environmental futures. So how should publics relate to scientific knowledge? We investigate sociological and ethical issues related to modern science, technology, and medicine, and we develop different approaches to thinking critically about what it means to live in a society so profoundly bound up with the methods and results of the long historical process of scientific knowledge-making. Topics include scientific expertise in public policy and law; fact/value distinctions; industrial science; human/non-human animals and recent biomedical challenges to human self-understandings; scientific and legal constructions of human difference; and recent global challenges that are both social and scientific in nature, in particular environmental change.
Textbooks
Weekly readings

3000-level units of study

Core
HPSC3016 The Scientific Revolution

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Prof Ofer Gal Session: Semester 2 Classes: Two 1 hour lectures and two 1 hour tutorials per week. Individual student consultation as required. Prerequisites: (HPSC2100 or HPSC2900) and (HPSC1001 or HPSC1901 or HPSC2101 or HPSC2901) Assessment: 10x150wd questions (40%) and 1x 3500wd essay (40%) and 1 x Experiment (10%) and Class Participation (10%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Modern Western science has a number of characteristics that distinguish it from other scientific cultures. It ascribes its tremendous success to sophisticated experiments and meticulous observation. It understands the universe in terms of tiny particles in motion and the forces between them. It is characterised by high- powered mathematical theorising and the rejection of any intention, value or purpose in Nature. Many of these characteristics were shaped in the 17th century, during the so-called scientific revolution. We will consider them from an integrated historical- philosophical perspective, paying special attention to the intellectual motivations of the canonical figures of this revolution and the cultural context in which they operated. Topics will include: experimentation and instrumentation, clocks, mechanistic philosophy, and the changing role of mathematics.
Textbooks
Weekly Readings
Interdisciplinary Project
HPSC3888 HPSC Interdisciplinary Project

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Associate Professor Dominic Murphy Session: Semester 2 Classes: Lecture 2 hrs/week; tutorial 1 hr/week Prerequisites: HPSC2X01 and HPSC2011 Assumed knowledge: Students should have demonstrated the ability to explain topics and concepts in HPS at an intermediate level Assessment: Assignments (50%), Project report (40%), Project oral presentation (10%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Our ever-changing world requires knowledge that extends across multiple disciplines. The ability to identify and explore interdisciplinary links is a crucial skill for emerging professionals and researchers alike. This unit presents the opportunity to bring together the concepts and skills you have learnt in your discipline and apply them to a real-world problem. You will work on a project which involves evaluating theories in HPS based on knowledge drawn from collaborators in another discipline, for instance by taking a recent scientific controversy or theoretical innovation as a case study. For example, you might test a proposal about the theoretical basis of neuroscience by comparing it to a predictive coding model of brain function, or test assumptions about how scientific models work by studying specific models in climatology or ecology In this unit, you will continue to understand and explore disciplinary knowledge, while also meeting and collaborating with students from across the University through project-based learning; identifying and solving problems, collecting and analysing data and communicating your findings to a diverse audience. All of these skills are highly valued by employers. This unit will foster the ability to work in interdisciplinary teams, and this is essential for both professional and research pathways in the future.
SCPU3001 Science Interdisciplinary Project

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Prof Pauline Ross Session: Intensive February,Intensive July,Semester 1,Semester 2 Classes: The unit consists of one seminar/workshop per week with accompanying online materials and a project to be determined in consultation with the partner organisation and completed as part of a team with academic supervision. Prerequisites: Completion of 2000-level units required for at least one Science major. Assessment: group plan, group presentation, reflective journal, group project Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
This unit is designed for students who are concurrently enrolled in at least one 3000-level Science Table A unit of study to undertake a project that allows them to work with one of the University's industry and community partners. Students will work in teams on a real-world problem provided by the partner. This experience will allow students to apply their academic skills and disciplinary knowledge to a real-world issue in an authentic and meaningful way. Participation in this unit will require students to submit an application to the Faculty of Science.
Selective
HPSC3002 Hist and Phil of the Biomedical Sciences

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Hans Pols Session: Semester 2 Classes: Two 1 hour lectures and two 1 hour tutorials per week. Prerequisites: (HPSC2100 or HPSC2900) and (HPSC2101 or HPSC2901) Assessment: 2x300-400wd reports (25%) and 1xclass presentation (25%) and class questions (10%) and 1x2500-3000 wd essay (40%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Throughout the ages people have been born, have died, and in between have lived in various stages of sickness or health. In this unit of study we shall look at how these states of being were perceived in different times and places throughout history, while at the same time noting the increasing medicalisation of everyday life, together with the irony that the "miracles" of modern medicine appear to have created a generation of the "worried well". Using this historical perspective, we shall ask how perceptions of sickness, health and the related provision of health care have been intertwined with social, political and economic factors and, indeed still are today.
Textbooks
Weekly Readings
HPSC3108 Hist and Phil of the Physical Sciences

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Dean Rickles Session: Semester 1 Classes: One 2-hour lecture Prerequisites: HPSC2101 or HPSC2901 Assessment: Four 1500-word essays (4x25%). Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
This unit of study deals with a selection of contemporary debates in the history and philosophy of natural sciences. It covers four main themes: (1) the question of how evidence is gathered in the natural sciences and how it is (and/or other factors) go into confirming theories-we also consider what confirmation consists in (including an examination of Bayesianism). (2) Issues of modelling, representation, and measurement, including an analysis of the ways idealisation, approximation, and simulation are to be understood. (3) Models of scientific explanation, including recent work on laws, prediction, and causality. (4) issues of emergence and reduction, including the problems associated with defining such concepts - we also consider notions of simplicity and the impact of the sciences of complexity. The unit of study involves case studies from the natural sciences that allow students to apply their knowledge and test their understanding. Upon completion of the unit, students will have developed a range of skills that will allow them to explore the physical sciences with more critical attitude.
Textbooks
Weekly readings
HPSC3023 Psychology and Psychiatry: History and Phil

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Hans Pols and Dr Fiona Hibberd Session: Semester 1 Classes: Two 1 hour lectures and one 2 hour tutorial per week. Prerequisites: (12 credit points of Intermediate HPSC units) OR (Credit or greater in an HPSC Intermediate unit) OR (12 Intermediate credit points in Psychology units) Assumed knowledge: HPSC2100 and HPSC2101 Assessment: 1x 2500wd essay (45%) and 1x2hr exam (45%) class participation (10%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Across the unit we examine one of the most interesting aspects of the history and philosophy of science. viz., the scientific practices and assumptions involved in making human beings an object of study. We will examine the ways in which psychologists and psychiatrists have investigated human nature, the kinds of experimental approaches they have developed to that end, the major controversies in this field, and the basic philosophical assumptions that have been made in the sciences of human nature. We investigate the developments of psychological theories and investigative methods as well as the development of psychiatric theory, treatment methods, and institutions.