HPSC3002 - History and Philosophy of the Biomedical Sciences

Semester 2

Prerequisites: HPSC2100/2900 and HPSC2101/2901
6 credit points
2 x 2 hour seminars per week (see timetable)
Assessment: tutorial work, essays, exam, tutorial participation

This unit of study looks at the practice of the life sciences in the past and in the present, and at the philosophical problems arising from this practice: what is life? What counts as an explanation in the life sciences, and how do these explanations relate to those used in other scientific disciplines, particularly the physical sciences? Given that biologists study phenomena that have evolved, how can we know about the history of these living systems and the processes shaping that history? Starting in the 18th century with biology becoming an academic discipline, we investigate different answers to these questions, and we seek to understand why those answers emerged at the time they did. The concluding section of the course turns to recent philosophical questions posed by cognitive neuro- science.