PHIL 6000: Philosophy of Biology

Course Description: This course will address central issues in philosophy of biology and, in particular, will focus on the philosophical issues and implications of evolutionary theory.  We will start by considering some fundamental conceptual issues:  fitness, units of selection, and adaptationism.  Next, we will discuss the notion of developmental constraints, and then arguments for and against evolutionary psychology.  In the third part of the course, we will think about traditional topics in the philosophy of science—laws and reductionism—and how they apply to biology.  Next, we will move on to systematics and consider the species concept and phylogenetic inference.  Finally, we will discuss cultural evolution, altruism, and evolutionary ethics.

Course Syllabus (Spring 2008)