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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrea I. Woody
PHIL 401
Seattle Campus

Advanced Topics in Philosophy

A study of philosophical topics at the advanced level. Topics vary.

Class description

Topic: Science and Pseudoscience. Both history and philosophy of science are frequently enlisted in efforts to defend the frontier between science and non-science. These efforts, in turn, reflect fundamental problems arising in the two fields, ones that might be resolved in part by a more integrated HPS perspective, and the creation of this perspective will be one of the collective tasks of this seminar. For philosophers, the identification of satisfactory demarcation criteria to allow the objective definition of science was a central task of the twentieth century, albeit an increasingly problematic one. For historians of science, an unwillingness to draw a line between science and non-science seemed to smack of an unsavory relativism, threaten their credibility with scientists, and undermine their sense of disciplinary identity; at the same time, a sense of how the line between science and non-science has shifted over time seemed to provide a crucial contextual element for historical practice. We will begin by reading Michael Gordinís recent book (2012) The Pseudoscience Wars: Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe, which explores scientistsí varying responses to Immanuel Velikovsky and the relationship of these responses to the science wars arising in the 1980s and 1990s. From this piece of contemporary scholarship, we will work backwards to issues of demarcation in history and philosophy of science, look at what may be regarded as unsatisfactory responses to this problem (for example, in the science wars and in the skepticís movement of scientism), and ultimately try to find a set of better approaches. The course will be run as a discussion-based seminar, and students will prepare their own case studies relevant to our efforts to make sense of demarcation and its significance. This course is open to HPS majors and other graduate and undergraduate students with suitable backgrounds. Interested students who are not HPS majors should talk with one of the instructors: Bruce Hevly and Andrea Woody.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Two previous philosophy classes or dance history class recommended.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Andrea I. Woody
Date: 01/07/2014