Syllabus - Reductionism PHI 750 (SU) / PHL 515 (UR) Fall...

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1 Reductionism PHI 750 (SU) / PHL 515 (UR) Fall 2009 Instructors : Alyssa Ney (UR), Kevan Edwards (SU) Contact : aney@mail.rochester.edu , kedwar02@syr.edu Introduction Physics claims to be a science that can provide a true, fundamental, and comprehensive theory of our world. But if this is the case, what room is there for the so-called “special sciences”— biology, psychology, economics? What can they contribute to the story physics tells? And what is their relation to fundamental physics? We will start the semester by looking at classic models of reduction that were defended in the 20th Century. The bulk of the semester, including the weeks when we have visitors present, will focus on contemporary topics: how philosophers understand reduction today, the prospects for reducing the special sciences to fundamental physical science, and the philosophical obstacles to reductionism. Major funding for the course has been provided by the Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor, an Andrew W. Mellon foundation initiative and the SU Humanities Center. Structure of the course The course is constructed around visits from four leading philosophers who work on the topic. Information about the visitors is below. Other meetings of the seminar will follow an unorthodox schedule. There will be three Saturday ‘super-classes’ that compress what would otherwise be several weeks of classes. Students will be expected to do a substantial amount of preparation for these classes. A more detailed schedule is available below. We have limited funding to support accommodation for students and faculty at various points during the seminar—in particular for the Thursday nights on weeks when we have a visitor present. More information about this will be made available during the first class meeting.
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Syllabus - Reductionism PHI 750 (SU) / PHL 515 (UR) Fall...

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