This course is an introduction to the philosophy of biology, with application to specific current problems. It focuses on two major strands of thinking seeking answers to fundamental and complementary questions: “How do we know?” (epistemology) and “What things really exist in the world?” (ontology). These two themes have the most important impact on the practice of science, as they pertain to the nature of the scientific enterprise and how it works (epistemology and philosophy of science), as well as what scientists consider part of reality (=science related ontology: unicorns and phlogiston NO; atoms, electrons, YES; but what about species and genes? Do they have the same status as atoms?). In each of these fields of philosophy we outline the main positions and then discuss how they apply to past and current debates in biology, in particular, but not exclusively, evolutionary biology.
Prerequisite: a semester of biology or a semester of philosophy.
1 Yale College course credit(s)