Postgraduate Course: Philosophical Issues in Evolution MSc (PHIL11083)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course will offer detailed seminars on key philosophical issues in evolution and evolutionary theory. No background in biology or life-sciences will be assumed, and the course is intended to be accessible to students with a wide range of philosophical interests and aptitudes.
Shared with UG course PHIL10106 Philosophical Issues in Evolution
For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
This course surveys major topics in the contemporary philosophy of biology, with a special focus on issues related to evolutionary explanation.
Specific topics covered include:
* The logic of evolutionary explanation
* The debate on the units of selection
* Adaptationism: its claims and counterarguments
* Modeling as a research method in biology and ecology
* The status of laws in biology
* Case study: race. Are racial categories scientifically legitimate biological kinds?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate core skills in philosophy, including the ability to interpret and engage with philosophical texts, to evaluate arguments, and to develop one¿s own critical ideas in response
- understand and articulate key concepts in philosophy of biology
- understand and articulate the logical structure of evolutionary explanation; identify and discuss critically debates about the targets of evolutionary explanation
- understand and articulate the criteria for a legitimate scientific concept in biology; ability to discuss these criteria critically for the specific example of racial categories
|Representative reading list:|
Sterelny & Griffiths (1999) Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology
Godfrey-Smith (2014) Philosophy of Biology
Dawkins (1982) The Extended Phenotype
Gould & Lewontin (1979) 'The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme'
||Please see Learn page
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Ability to analyse philosophical arguments
Ability to assess scientific results from a philosophical perspective
Ability to articulate and defend positions in a philosophical debate
|Keywords||Philosophy of Biology; Evolution; Modeling; Explanation
|Course organiser||Dr Alistair Isaac
Tel: (0131 6)51 5174
|Course secretary||Ms Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002