Andrea I. Woody
Examines issues from the perspectives of both history and philosophy. Prerequisite: either HIST 311, HIST 312, HIST 313, HIST 314, HIST 315, HIST 317, HIST 318, or HIST 412; either PHIL 350, PHIL 360, PHIL 450, PHIL 460, PHIL 464, PHIL 466, PHIL 473, PHIL 481, PHIL 482, or PHIL 483.
Considerable work over the last decade across the breadth of Science Studies (including work by historians, philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists) has been motivated by an interest in expertise: roughly, dealing with the problem of understanding how certain practitioners achieve positions of authority with respect to policy and action, as opposed to the more traditional interest of epistemologists and intellectual historians in what makes knowledge justified and true. In this capstone seminar, we propose to use recent work on expertise as an entry point to discussing how important arguments in the philosophy of science might be understood in three, roughly chronological, broad contexts. We will begin by discussing expertise as a theme in science studies, and the claims made for it as a mode of analysis. Then we will devote two or three weeks each to, first, an essentially religious framework which assumed a transcendent status for truth in the 18th and 19th centuries; second, a political context which defined truth by reference to the utilitarian demands of the state in the 19th and 20th centuries; and third, a regime defined by the values of the marketplace, in which truth is seen as a product of negotiation. We can then ask if a concept such as expertise can be usefully or justifiably applied by historians and philosophers outside of the context that produces it. As we explore this broad historical landscape, students will be exposed to the work of Kant, Whewell, Herschel, Mill, Kuhn, Popper, and more recent science studies scholars such as Collins. Emphasis will be placed on close textual reading, careful writing, open discussion, and grappling generally with issues that arise at the intersection of contemporary histories and philosophies of science.
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