Browse All Graduate Courses

HPS1000H: Pro-Seminar

Course Description: The HPS1000H Pro-Seminar (2021-22) will be dedicated to experiment (a form of reasoning) that is now widely regarded as the ultimate factfinder in science. What are the grounds for the conviction that experiments are the ultimate factfinders? On what grounds can be it claimed that experiments are uniquely privileged with respect to factfinding? How can we sort out experimental success from experimental failure? Given the richness and diversity of experiment across different fields of inquiry (the natural sciences, engineering, medicine, the social sciences, etc.), can we even have a general (philosophy) of experiment.  We will explore the philosophy of experiment (and its historical construction) through case studies (Kuhn referred to this as teaching philosophy by example), starting with Bacon and Boyle and through the study of primary course material attempt to unpack some of the historical circumstances and cultural determinants that institutionalized experiment as our best defense against uncertainty.
Teaching Method: Seminar
Capacity: 20

HPS1001H: Individual Reading and Research in the History and/or Philosophy of Science and Technology

Course Description: Normally, 1 full or 2 half-courses allowed per program. Instructor's permission required. Topic is chosen by the student, with approval of a particular faculty member, who meets with the student regularly to discuss readings. Involves the writing of at least one essay. Can also be taken during the summer.
Teaching Method: Meetings

HPS1002H: Individual Reading and Research in the History and/or Philosophy of Science and Technology

Course Description: Normally, 1 full or 2 half-courses allowed per program. Instructor's permission required. Topic is chosen by the student, with approval of a particular faculty member, who meets with the student regularly to discuss readings. Involves the writing of at least one essay. Can also be taken during the summer.
Teaching Method: Meetings

HPS1003H: Individual Reading and Research in the History and/or Philosophy of Science and Technology

Course Description: Normally, 1 full or 2 half-courses allowed per program. Instructor's permission required. Topic is chosen by the student, with approval of a particular faculty member, who meets with the student regularly to discuss readings. Involves the writing of at least one essay. Can also be taken during the summer.
Teaching Method: Meetings

HPS1005Y:  Individual Reading and Research in the History and/or Philosophy of Science and Technology

Course Description: Normally, 1 full or 2 half-courses allowed per program. Instructor's permission required. Topic is chosen by the student, with approval of a particular faculty member, who meets with the student regularly to discuss readings. Involves the writing of at least one essay. Can also be taken during the summer.
Teaching Method: Meetings

HPS1100Y:  Advanced Research Paper

Course Description: Individual student  research projects
Teaching Method: Meetings

HPS1500H: Research Paper (MA students)

Course Description: HPS1500H Research Paper provides MA students the opportunity to undertake original research in the social and humanistic studies of science, technology, and medicine with the goal of developing the student’s capacity to effectively engage and contribute to existing scholarly literature.  IHPST graduate students who wish to take HPS1500H must draw up a detailed course plan with a member of the IHPST graduate faculty who is prepared to provide supervision, and submit a Request for Reading and/or Research form that must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. NOTE: HPS1500H can be taken in the fall or the winter term.
Teaching Method: Meetings

 

HPS2000H: History of Mathematics (Cross-listed with HPS410H1)

Course Description: A study of selected topics in the history of mathematics. Proceeding chronologically, we examine episodes that have provoked historical debate and lively discussion, or have marked novel lines of investigation.  Historiography will be an ongoing focus in the course.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS2001H: History of Physics

Course Description: The aim of this graduate seminar is to introduce important developments in the history of physics and to explore the ways to understand them. In the semester, we will examine in chronological order the emergence or consolidation of some primary areas of physical sciences, such as mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum physics, and relativity. Although these topics by no means exhaust all the noteworthy episodes, they nonetheless represent the major route along which physics has taken shape. In addition to its historical subject, each session corresponds to a historiographical theme, which can be philosophical, sociological, or cultural. We will discuss how historians have addressed these themes and turned them into approaches of writing the history of physics, and assess the implications of such approaches.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS2003H: History of Biology

Course Description: This course provides an overview of selected major developments in the history of the life sciences, mainly in evolution and genetics in the late 19th and 20th centuries.  It also examines key historiographical questions in the history of science.  Each week we focus on one historical event and also on one historiographical issue in the history of science, but we will strive to connect them to earlier events and debates. The readings include primary sources, secondary sources, and historiographical discussions. We learn to interpret primary texts and use secondary literature in developing historical arguments.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS2004H1: History of Medicine

Course Description: This course will examine the historical development of western medicine in relation to societies, politics and culture. We shall address topics such as changing views of the body and its functions, the social and cultural meaning of disease, the place of patients and medical practitioners in the world of healing and the role of religion and magic in this world. We will also explore the bearings medical pursuits had on the creation and substantiation of notions of gender, investigate how practitioners sought to gain and maintain authority over knowledge, institutions and patients, and examine the place of visual and material culture in the production and dissemination of medical knowledge. Although the course will centre on the so-called ‘Western’ medicine, we shall consider points of contact and encounters between Western and non-Western medical worlds.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS2006H: History of Technology II (Cross-listed with HPS431H1)

Course Description: This seminar offers an introduction to the social and cultural history of technology. It is intended to introduce key questions, concepts, and approaches that define the field, and to equip students with the analytical tools necessary to undertake their own research in the history of technology (and science). The approach is thematic rather than chronological, and readings have been chosen to balance recent literature with some of the most significant works of the last several decades. On occasion and if necessary, assigned monographs will be paired with relevant works of social theory to further illuminate the theoretical and analytical underpinnings of a given approach to the history of technology. In terms of content and geographical foci, emphasis is on the relationship between technology and Western society since c. 1800.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS2008H: History of Psychology

Course Description: Most of us believe we know a thing or two about human psychology. Yet we also realize that personal views and popular wisdom about what makes us tick may be mistaken.  In the last century and a half, a new discipline called Psychology has aimed to place our knowledge of the human mind, brain, and behavior on a scientific footing.  Using a wide array of scientific tools of analysis, professional psychologists have been studying fundamental questions that concern all of us, such as: 
Why do we do the things we do? 
How does the mind work? 
Are there deep psychological differences between males and females? 
How about between people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds?
Are we fundamentally rational or irrational creatures?
And how can professional psychology benefit the individual and society?
 In this course we examine the history of professional psychology, along with its widespread and often contested social relevance, from a number of angles.  We will focus on major figures such as Wilhelm Wundt, Sigmund Freud, and B. F. Skinner.  We will study the development of key controversies about scientific ontology, epistemology, and methodology and about the social implications and public policy uses of psychological knowledge.  We will consider how psychology was first established as an academic discipline, became institutionalized, grew as a profession, and came to be the large, diverse field of scientific inquiry, social practices, and policy applications that it is today.  We will examine the social context and specific influences (i.e., politics, wars, social structures, patronage, academic environments, influential figures, etc.) that have shaped the development of psychology and its relationships with the wider society. And we will consider how the history of psychology can be relevant to the theory, practice, and social relevance of psychology.
We will also use the history of psychology to examine fundamental questions about history more generally and about the history of science especially: 
What sorts of questions do historians of science ask? 
What kinds of answers do they offer? 
What types of evidence do they rely upon? 
What rhetorical strategies and story-telling techniques do they employ? 
How has and how can the history of psychology contribute to the history of science, and vice versa?
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS2009H: History and Philosophy of Social Sciences

Course Description: This seminar examines the history and philosophy of the social sciences. We will study key controversies about the subject matter, methodology, and aims of the social sciences, about the relationship between the individual and society, about central concepts such as race, class, and gender, about the causes of historical change, about the prospects for social progress, and about the relevance and uses of social science knowledge, practices, and expertise in public policy and the wider society. And we will examine the social context and various influences (i.e., industrialization, religion, politics, war, social structure, patronage, academic environment, influential personalities, cultural attitudes and values, etc.) that have shaped the development of the social sciences and their significance in the modern world.

We will also use materials from this class to examine fundamental questions about the history of science: What sorts of questions do historians of science ask? What types of frameworks of inquiry do they work with? What sorts of answers do they offer? What kinds of evidence do they rely upon? What rhetorical strategies and story-telling techniques do they employ?
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS2010H: The Sciences of Human Nature

Course Description: Why do we do what we do? What factors play a role in shaping our personality? What biological and social elements help configure a person’s moral, intellectual, and emotional character? In this course we examine landmark studies that shook standard beliefs about human nature in their time. We analyze those studies in their historical context and discuss their lasting
relevance to social, ethical, and policy debates. In addition, this course will help students to understand what is involved in choosing a large research project and to think about the steps needed to turn it into a viable dissertation/book project. Thus, we will devote parts of some meetings to discuss the different aspects of conceptualizing a project, organizing the research, developing a manageable timetable, and writing the different parts of a book (introduction, arch of the chapters, conclusion).
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20
 

 

HPS3000H: Philosophy of Science

Course Description: This course is designed as a graduate level introduction to philosophy of science. The lectures and discussions will explore some important issues in the philosophical literature on the natural sciences: rationality, experimental practice, theory, the role of instruments, the unity/disunity of the sciences, problem-solving in the sciences, incommensurability, and the underdetermination thesis, to name just a few. Wherever possible, we will attempt to situate these issues in their historical context, and to relate their emergence to associated intellectual approaches (e.g., feminist, anthropological, sociological trends). In order to facilitate discussion, however, we will chiefly be concerned with the treatment that these issues have been given by a handful of scholars (esp. Kuhn, van Fraassen Hacking, Latour, Cartwright) who have contributed greatly to the present shape of philosophy of science and the considerable influence that it enjoys in many academic circles.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS3001H: The Philosophy of Biology

Course Description: The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis is the current orthodox theory of evolution. It arose early in the 20th Century through an amalgamation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and Mendel’s theory of inheritance. It is now coming up for a century of unprecedented success. (The first serious intimation of a synthesis was produced by Fisher in 1918). Recently, however, the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis has begun to receive a battery of challenges. These arise mostly from empirical work in development, inheritance, the evolution of novelties inter alia. The challenges have provoked biologists, historians and philosophers to re-evaluate the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, to investigate its conceptual foundations, to explore its possible limitations. Increasingly calls for an extensive revision, expansion, or wholesale rejection of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis—as well as systematic defences of the Synthesis—are being heard. The objective of this seminar series is to investigate the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, its formulation, its conceptual foundations, the empirical and conceptual challenges it faces, and its prospects for survival or revision.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS3002H: The History and Philosophy of Science

Course Description: In this course, we examine different notions of HPS as an integrated discipline that have been theorized and/or practiced in the last two centuries. We will begin with the classical notion of HPS as it was practiced by William Whewell and his contemporaries in the 19th century. We will then discuss some a-historical approaches to philosophy of science best expressed in the works of Rudolph Carnap and other logical positivists. The major focus of our discussion will be on the ideas of integrated HPS in the Kuhnian and post-Kuhnian period. We will scrutinize some of the classical approaches to integrated HPS which emerged during the period of the so-called historical turn, including those by Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos, and Larry Laudan. We will also study the French tradition of historical epistemology by focusing mostly on the ideas of Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, and Michel Foucault. Considerable attention will be directed to analyzing the reasons why the classical ideas of HPS never really came to fruition and why currently the history of science and the philosophy of science are mostly practiced independently from one another. To that end, we will take a closer look at the promises and failures of the infamous VPI project in the mid 1980s and will consider some of the major points of criticism of the traditional notions of HPS raised by historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science in the last four decades. We will then consider some of the contemporary attempts at establishing HPS as an integrated discipline, including &HPS, empirical HPS, and scientonomy.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS3003H: Social Studies of Medicine

Course Description: In this course, we will discuss key concepts and approaches in social analysis of medicine by drawing on interdisciplinary works from medical anthropology, science studies, and history of medicine. We will examine the multiple realities of the body presented in different medical traditions, how medicine integrates with biology in current era, the increasing medicalization of the body and behavior, the politics of clinical studies, and patients’ personhood and living worlds, etc. The course also adopts a global scope. To name a few, we will examine how patients from all over the world pursue “cutting-edge” regenerative therapy in China, and how “traditional” medicine such as Ayurveda medicine has been transformed to respond to the “modern” medicine.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

Course Code: HPS3004H Philosophy of Medicine

Course Description: This seminar course provides a graduate level introduction to the philosophy of medicine, a fast-growing philosophical field. We will explore both classic and cutting-edge work. In line with the orientation of the field, we will examine metaphysical/conceptual and epistemic questions in medicine and medical research rather than the kinds of questions traditionally asked in the field of bioethics. Also following the contemporary focus of philosophy of medicine, most of the readings are situated in the philosophy of science. Topics explored will include: varieties of medicine (mainstream, alternative) and their critics; the concepts and nature of health, disease, and illness; disease kinds and classification; the philosophy of psychiatry; biomedical science and medical explanation; the methodology of clinical research and epidemiology; the epistemology of evidence-based medicine; clinical reasoning; and values and the social epistemology of medicine. While most readings follow an ‘analytic’ approach to philosophy of medicine, some follow a more ‘continental’ approach.
Classes will consist in a discussion of the course readings with an introduction to the topics provided by the instructor. Links to all required readings will be provided.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS3006H Philosophy of Probability

Course Description: Henri Poincare, the French mathematician, physicist and philosopher said that “if this calculus be condemned, then the whole of the sciences must also be condemned.” Indeed, the concept of probability plays a crucial role in modern science and contemporary philosophy. While there is a broad consensus about the formal theory of probability, there is no agreement on its
interpretation. In the course, we shall first look at the history of probability until the 19th C, then
study the main contemporary interpretations of probability and finally consider some applications
of these interpretations in science and/or philosophy. The course will be taught as a seminar in
which students present the main readings and some of the further readings.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS3007H: Philosophy of Economics

Course Description: The economic realm dominates many central aspects of our life. Economics is the science that is supposed to describe and explain economic phenomena. Yet, economic theory is a perplexing subject. A few centuries after its birth, its cognitive status and methods are still largely unclear and controversial. The course aims to encourage a critical, philosophical reflection on modern economic theory and its fundamental concepts and postulates, and achieve a better understanding of modern economies and their relevance for society and social justice. We shall evaluate issues including the nature of economic knowledge and explanation, the status of the fundamental postulates, theories and models in economics, the influence of ideology, the concept of economic efficiency, the question whether economics is descriptive or normative and some central questions concerning the relevance of economics for collective choice and social justice. This is a seminar in which students present the main readings.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS3008H: Philosophy of Science and Religion

Course Description: This graduate course is delivered as a seminar. We will explore an integrative approach to the history and philosophy with an emphasis on central systematic questions in the field of science and religion. No specific philosophical or theological background is required, but any prior training in the philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and theology are an asset.
Teaching Method: Seminars 
Capacity: 20

HPS3009H: Slavery, Medicine, and Science in Historical Perspective

Course Description: This course examines historical entanglements of science, medicine, and slavery. It articulates a critical reflection of both the many ways in which medicine and natural inquiry supported the institution of slavery and the settings in which slavery was integral to the production of modern medical and natural knowledge. At the same time, the course aims at casting light on the epistemic role of enslaved individuals and communities in the histories of science, medicine and technology. In recent years, a growing number of scholars have examined the institutional apparatuses of imperial science and medicine, paying special attention to the mobility of individuals, knowledge, practices, objects across the globe. However, the place of slavery in historical processes of production, movement and transfer of natural and medical knowledge has only started to be explored. This course draws attention to entanglements of slavery, science and medicine in different settings and regions. It considers how the study of these entanglements can potentially shift our perspective on the way we think and write about our discipline. Key themes and topics include the examination of the place of slavery in histories of: medicine and anatomy; gender and generation; medical experimentation; collecting and natural history; the rise of racial science and the making of collective identities; bodies, violence and the archive.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS3010H: Social Epistemology

Course Description: Traditionally, epistemology has dealt with the ways in which an individual acquires knowledge through perception and reasoning. However, in recent years it has become apparent that the traditional discussions of knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular, fail to capture important aspects of the social dimension of knowledge. We acquire most of our beliefs from the testimony of others, including experts, and from social institutions that are in charge of the generation of knowledge. The relatively recent branch of philosophy that deals with the social dimensions of knowledge is called social epistemology. It has developed through dialogue with the history of science, sociology of scientific knowledge, anthropology, and philosophy of science. The course will provide an introduction to social epistemology, in general, and social epistemology of science, in particular. It will deal with various aspects of the nature of knowledge from this new perspective, including issues such as the development of scientific knowledge, ‘knowledge that’ (something true) vs. ‘knowledge how’, the influence of social and cultural factors on scientific methodology, scientific rationality and scientific knowledge, scientific realism vs. social constructivism, distributive cognition, holism vs. methodological individualism, trust, expertise, consensus, distributive epistemic injustice, and feminist epistemology.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20
 

 

HPS4001H: The Scientific Revolution: Galileo to Newton

Course Description: Ruminations about causality are at the center of our very idea of a science. This course will explore various developments associated with the scientific revolution (understood in the broader sense to signify the rejection of the Aristotelian worldview and its replacement by the mechanistic cosmos associated with Galileo, Descartes, and Newton) from the point of view of the notion of causation (a subsidiary goal will be the use the scientific revolution as a background for helping us get clear on the notion of causality).  Starting with a discussion of Aristotle’s theory of causation as elaborated both in his work as philosopher and as naturalist, we will then turn to developments in astronomy and cosmology, mechanics, natural history, biology, geology, and chemistry, exploring the sense, if any, in which these developments involved a rejection of Aristotle’s theory(s) of causation.  The course will be conducted as a seminar, with students selecting topics for presentation at our first meeting.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4102H - Topics in the History of Technology

Course Description: Technology and economics have always been intimately linked.  However, with few albeit brilliant exceptions economists and historians of economic thought have paid little attention to technology, especially what historians of technology are wont to call the "black box of technology".  Historians of technology have likewise returned the favour and studied the artifacts and ideas of technology more than the economics.  
This course will explore the work of a number of historians of technology, economists, and economic historians who have taken the links between economics and technology seriously.  I will use a number of readings inspired by to examine a number of issues regarding the techno-economic link but I also hope to cover questions that will depend on the interests of students in the course.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

Course Code: HPS4105H - Topics in the History of the Social and Behavioural Sciences

Course Description: In the last decade, the history of the social sciences since WWII has become a vibrant field of scholarship, with important contributions from historians of science, intellectual historians, historians of particular disciplines (e.g., sociology, economics, etc.), and scholars working in a number of other areas including diplomatic history, public policy history, American studies, and Cold War studies.  This seminar focuses on the history of the social and behavioral sciences in the United States since WWII.  During this period of time, the US social science enterprise grew dramatically in size and became by far the largest in the world.  Its influence extended far beyond the nation’s borders as well. We will be paying special attention to the importance of politics, patrons, and scientific identify. Thus we will be exploring how the social and behavioral sciences became closely involved with major domestic and foreign policy issues, from the battles against poverty, racism, and sexism to the war against the communist menace and the struggle to win hearts and minds in the developing world. In the forging of close ties between politics and professors, powerful patrons often played critical roles, from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the F. W. Olin Foundation to the Department of Defense, the RAND Corporation and the CIA.  So we will be studying the development of the politics-patronage-social science nexus. We will also be considering how these matters became central to the long-standing debates over scientific identify and the unity-of-the science thesis. Questions about the scientific status of the social sciences have often been connected to considerations about their social relevance and public policy uses, as well as their efforts to secure funding from various sources.  In recent years, analysis of these relationships has informed debates about the role of economists (and the science of economics) in the world economic crisis, and about the participation of anthropologists and other social scientists in the War on Terror.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4106H: Environment and STS

Course Description:  This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to studying environment, technology and society. Environmental history takes as its foundational premise that human beings shape and alter their environment, and that the rest of non-human nature, in turn, influences societies and cultures the world over. A recent generation of scholars working at the intersection of the histories of environment and of technology have further demonstrated the degree to which technologies mediate this reciprocal relationship. This course will introduce students to both the histories and politics of human-environmental-technological interaction, on the one hand, and the historiography of this nexus on the other. The focus will be on transnational flows and interconnections since 1800, from toxic places and toxic bodies, to nuclear energy, climate change, environmental justice, and the concept of the Anthropocene. Throughout, we'll pay particular attention to how knowledge about the environment is constructed, communicated, and deployed towards particular political and social ends. Drawing insights from the field of Science, Technology, and Society (STS), environmental history, and multispecies perspectives within (and beyond) cultural anthropology, students will be invited to analyze not only the intersection between the nonhuman environment, technology, and science, but to engage with critical theoretical frameworks for doing so. In the assignments for this course, students will have the opportunity to engage creatively with course themes, readings, and outside research; and to experiment with form, media, audience.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

Course Code: HPS4300H The Historian’s Craft: Sources, Methods, and Approaches

Course Description: This graduate seminar offers an introduction to the principles of research in the history of science, medicine, and technology (HSMT). Through a close examination of classic texts and recent publications in the field, it focuses on sources, methods, and approaches in the practice of HSMT. We will explore the major genres—history of ideas, individuals, institutions, disciplines, and networks—as well as the main modes of analysis—intellectual, social, and cultural—employed in the field. The seminar will emphasize the development of skills essential to the profession—good writing, attentive reading, analytical thinking, concise presentation, academic debate, and historiographic and methodological knowledge. Each week, we will examine in depth a particular genre or level of analysis based on assigned readings and book presentations, focusing on the “Whats,” “Whys,” and “Hows” of historical research and writing.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20
 

HPS4500H Religion and Science on Human Sexuality

Course Description: This seminar deals with human sexuality as an outstanding intersection point of religion and science. We focus on the diverse scientific, philosophical and theological approaches to human sexuality in general, and contested issues of human sexuality in particular. The course is divided into four units. The first unit is dedicated to the emergence of the so-called new naturalism in the 1970s. The second unit is about the metaphysics implied by different forms of naturalism, including the strict naturalism of the new naturalism. Against this background in a third unit we focus on Habermas’ and Putnam’s philosophy of religion. Both philosophers can be understood as attempting to justify the rationality of religion against the claims of strict naturalism. Finally, in unit four we reach the level of human sexuality. We are looking closer at one paradigmatic religious teaching about human sexuality. This particular instance of religious teaching will be confronted with different kinds of criticisms. The overall idea of the course is to facilitate a deep reflection of the actual impact the natural sciences might have on religion or sexuality and on religious teachings about humansexuality.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4502H: Teleology, Adaptation, and Design

Course Description:  Wrote to Denis Walsh for the course description, will update soon. 
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4505H: Complexity, Reduction, and Emergence in Contemporary Biology

Course Description: Many biological systems are highly complex and non-linear and manifest autoacatalysis and self-organisation. These features have caused some philosophers, mathematicians and biologist to reject reductionism in biology and to embrace some form of emergence and holism. The course examines the arguments for and against emergence in complex biological systems.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4512H: Thought Experiments

Course Description: Around two hundreds years ago philosophers and scientists began to think about thought experiments. Hans-Christian Ørsted introduced the technical term thought experiments in 1811. But it was Ernst Mach who coined the term “Gedankenexperiment” for philosophical debate at the beginning of the 20th century. Serious investigation into thought experiments began only in the 1980s. In this course the different epistemologies of thought experiments will be explored and many of the paradigmatic thought experiments will be discussed.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

Course Code: HPS4601H Topics in Philosophy of Science

Course Description: Traditionally, epistemology has dealt with the ways in which an individual acquires knowledge through perception and reasoning. However, in recent years it has become apparent that the traditional discussions of knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular, fail to capture important aspects of the social dimension of knowledge. We acquire most of our beliefs from the testimony of others, including experts, and from social institutions that are in charge of the generation of knowledge. The relatively recent branch of philosophy that deals with the social dimensions of knowledge is called social epistemology. It has developed through dialogue with the history of science, sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), anthropology, and philosophy of science. The course will provide an introduction to social epistemology in general and social epistemology of science in particular. It will deal with various aspects of the nature of knowledge from this new perspective, including issues such as the development of scientific knowledge, knowledge that vs. knowledge how, the influence of social and cultural factors on scientific methodology, scientific rationality and scientific knowledge, scientific realism vs. social constructivism, distributive cognition, holism vs. methodological individualism, trust, expertise, consensus, distributive epistemic injustice and feminist epistemology.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4011H: Cognitive Technologies: Philosophical Issues and Debates

Course Descriptions: Many technological developments have brought with them significant changes in both the modes and scope of human thinking, including how we learn, how we remember, and how we perceive and engage with the world. This seminar will introduce graduate students to philosophical issues and debates that arise from the development of cognitive technologies. We will analyze and discuss key epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues that sit at the intersection of philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of technology, and neuroethics. Topics covered will include situated views of cognition, cognitive artifacts, cognitive enhancement, and artificial intelligence.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4020H: Postcolonialism and the Global Turn in Science & Technology Studies

Course Description: This seminar introduces graduate students to the role of postcolonial theory in generating a “global turn” in histories of science and the multidisciplinary field of science & technology studies (STS). We will analyze and discuss the key critiques of historical and social studies of science by postcolonial scholars, debate the theoretical and methodological significance of ideas like “global perspectives,” the “Global South,” and “non-Western science” in STS. To evaluate the impact of these ideas on the field, we will review recently published case studies applying postcolonial approaches to histories of science, technology, and medicine. Students will also have the opportunity to compare these approaches with the related but distinct concepts of decoloniality emerging from Indigenous studies, and to consider how postcolonial STS can inform their own ongoing research.”
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4021H: Feminist Approaches to Science & Technology Studies

Course Description: This seminar introduces graduate students to the intersections of feminist theory with the multidisciplinary field of science & technology studies (STS). We will analyze and discuss the key critiques of science and technology by feminist and queer studies scholars that have transformed not only the field of STS, but also research practices and concepts within STEM fields. Students will also have the opportunity to consider how feminist STS can inform STEM-related law and public policy in addition to their own ongoing research.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20

HPS4040H Computing and Information from Babbage to AI

Course Description: In this course, we examine the history of modern computing and information technology and science from the calculating engines during the Industrial Revolution to today’s Artificial Intelligence. We concentrate on their technical developments, political, institutional, and cultural contexts, and societal implications. We review the central scholarly works and selected primary sources on the subject.
Teaching Method: Seminars
Capacity: 20