PHIL 4607: Philosophy of the Biological Sciences

3 Credits

Biology dominates the landscape of contemporary scientific research, and yet \"biology\" consists of a variety of different disciplinary approaches: from protein biochemistry to field ecology, from developmental biology to evolutionary genetics. Many philosophical issues can be found in the concepts and practices of life science researchers from these different disciplines. What is the structure of evolutionary theory? What is a gene? What are the units of selection? What is an individual? What counts as a \"cause\"? What is the relationship between evolution and development? Are all biological phenomena reducible to genes or molecules? What are adaptations, and how do we identify them? What is an ecological niche? Is there a progressive trend in the history of life? Is there such a thing as 'human nature'? This course is an introduction to these and other related issues in the biological sciences with an emphasis on their diversity and heterogeneity. It is designed for advanced undergraduates with an interest in conceptual questions and debates in biology that are manifested across a variety of majors (e.g., animal science; anthropology; biochemistry; biology, society and environment; biosystems and agricultural engineering; chemistry; ecology, evolution and behavior; genetics, cell biology and development; microbiology; neuroscience; physiology; plant biology; psychology). Some of these issues will appear familiar from previous coursework or opportunities, whereas new issues will be intriguing because of their similarities and differences with those that have been encountered in other contexts.

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All Instructors

B Average (3.079)Most Common: A (26%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

95 students
  • 4.24


  • 4.00


  • 4.55


  • 4.25


  • 3.95



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