BIOLOGY 470: HISTORY & PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

INSTRUCTOR: DR. MICHAEL KUNZ
SPRING 2020


 

PART 2: Historical Overview to 1800

(Tentative Schedule):

 

Major questions for this section: How did cosmology change from antiquity to the nineteenth century? How did the fundamental understandings of the physical sciences change from antiquity to the nineteenth century? What lessons can be drawn from the historic interactions between science and religion? What were the pre-evolutionary paradigms for understanding life? How does the philosophy of science help in analyzing the early history of science?

Wed. 2/12 Ancient science

  1. Readings: DeWitt chs. 9-12.
  2. Discussion: How did the ancient worldview differ from the modern worldview?
  3. Topics:
    1. Ancient origins of "science"
    2. Plato & Aristotle
    3. Ancient medicine
    4. Ptolemy & ancient astronomy
    5. Church fathers & their relationship to ancient knowledge

Fri. 2/14 Medieval science

  1. Readings: DeWitt chs. 11-12.
  2. Discussion: Was the impact of Medieval Christianity on science positive or negative?
  3. Topics:
    1. The medieval worldview
    2. Early Medieval and Islamic science
    3. Origins of the University
    4. Neo-Platonic philosophy
    5. Re-introduction of Aristotle’s philosophy
    6. Aquinas and the scholastic synthesis
    7. Condemnation of 1277

Mon. 2/17 PRESIDENTS' HOLIDAY

Wed. 2/19 Copernicus and the challenge to medieval science

  1. Readings:DeWitt chs. 13 - 16
  2. Discussion: Prior to Galileo's discoveries, which view was better supported: that of Ptolemy or Copernicus?
  3. Topics
    1. Scholastic synthesis
    2. Anomalies to Ptolemy's system
    3. Copernicus's contrasting system
    4. Using the philosophy of science to analyze the issues
    5. Tycho Brahe's compromise
    6. Kepler's system

Fri. 2/21 Galileo and the two new sciences

  1. Readings:
    1. DeWitt chs. 17-19
    2. "The Galileo Affair": introduction; social context; intellectual context; trial; aftermath. I have tried to update these links, which give great perspectives on this key story related to history of science and of science & religion.
  2. Discussion: Which philosophy of science best describes the history of science during Galileo's lifetime?
  3. Topics:
    1. Religion and science in the 17th century
    2. Comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the two systems
    3. Galileo's scientific observations
    4. Galileo's relating of science & religion

Mon. 2/24 Galileo and the two new sciences

  1. Readings:
    1. tba
  2. Discussion: How did Galileo relate science and religion?
  3. Topics:
    1. NOVA documentary Galileo's Battle for the Heavens

Wed. 2/26 The Scientific Revolution: Beyond Galileo to Newton

  1. Readings: Barbour ch.1; DeWitt chs. 20
  2. Discussion: What lessons should be drawn from the "Galileo affair" regarding science and religion?
  3. Topics:
    1. Kepler
    2. Decartes & mechanistic science
    3. Newton
    4. Francis Bacon
    5. Religion and science
    6. Scientific Societies

Fri. 2/28 Enlightenment Science

  1. Readings:
    1. Barbour ch. 2
    2. DeWitt ch. 21
  2. Discussion: How were understandings of nature different before and after the scientific revolution?
  3. Topics:
    1. Deism
    2. Reason and faith
    3. Enlightenment philosophy
    4. Physics, astronomy & chemistry
    5. Religious & political interactions
    6. Mechanistic & vitalistic biology
    7. Materialism

Mon. 3/2 Early Geology

  1. Readings: Bowler chs. 1 - 2
  2. Discussion: How did the discoveries of geology influence views of nature?
  3. Topics
    1. Early theories of the earth
    2. Fossils and Stratigraphy
    3. Vulcanism & neptunism
    4. Catastrophism & uniformitarian geology
    5. Mosaic geology & scientific naturalism
    6. Geology and the philosophy of science.

Wed. 3/4 Early Biology

  1. Readings: Bowler ch.3
  2. Discussion: How did the scientific view of life change between 1500AD and 1800AD?
  3. Topics
    1. Early encyclopedias & herbals
    2. Voyages of discovery and the expansion of diversity
    3. Fossils and the expansion of diversity
    4. Essentialist species concepts
    5. Systems of classification
    6. The Great Chain of Being
    7. Natural theology, Romanticism

Fri. 3/06 Exam #2