Online courses directory (11)
This course does not seek to provide answers to ethical questions. Instead, the course hopes to teach students two things. First, how do you recognize ethical or moral problems in science and medicine? When something does not feel right (whether cloning, or failing to clone) — what exactly is the nature of the discomfort? What kind of tensions and conflicts exist within biomedicine? Second, how can you think productively about ethical and moral problems? What processes create them? Why do people disagree about them? How can an understanding of philosophy or history help resolve them? By the end of the course students will hopefully have sophisticated and nuanced ideas about problems in bioethics, even if they do not have comfortable answers.
Introduces students to (i) the history of Buddhist contemplative traditions in India and Tibet (meditation, yoga, mindfulness, visualization, etc.), (ii) innovations in scientific research on understanding such contemplative practices, (iii) recent adaptations of such practices in multiple professional and personal areas, and (iv) the practices themselves through brief secular contemplative exercises.
This course studies the development of bilingualism in human history (from Australopithecus to present day). It focuses on linguistic aspects of bilingualism; models of bilingualism and language acquisition; competence versus performance; effects of bilingualism on other domains of human cognition; brain imaging studies; early versus late bilingualism; opportunities to observe and conduct original research; and implications for educational policies among others. The course is taught in English.
This course begins with an introduction to the theory of computability, then proceeds to a detailed study of its most illustrious result: Kurt Gödel's theorem that, for any system of true arithmetical statements we might propose as an axiomatic basis for proving truths of arithmetic, there will be some arithmetical statements that we can recognize as true even though they don't follow from the system of axioms. In my opinion, which is widely shared, this is the most important single result in the entire history of logic, important not only on its own right but for the many applications of the technique by which it's proved. We'll discuss some of these applications, among them: Church's theorem that there is no algorithm for deciding when a formula is valid in the predicate calculus; Tarski's theorem that the set of true sentence of a language isn't definable within that language; and Gödel's second incompleteness theorem, which says that no consistent system of axioms can prove its own consistency.
This course will introduce you to the major topics, problems, and methods of philosophy and surveys the writings of a number of major historical figures in the field. Philosophy can be - and has been - defined in many different ways by many different thinkers. In a scholarly sense, philosophy is the study of the history of human thought. It requires familiarity with great ideas understood through the various major thinkers in world history. In its most general sense, philosophy is simply the investigation of life’s “big questions.” We will explore such fundamental questions in several of the core areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, political philosophy, ethics, and the philosophy of religion. With the help of commentaries and discussions from a number of contemporary philosophers, we will read and reflect on texts by major Western and non-Western thinkers including Lao Tzu, Buddha, Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Saint Anselm, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, John Locke, Immanuel…
This course is a survey of philosophical issues surrounding the concepts and practices of modern science. The course covers the major areas of contemporary philosophy of science, including scientific reasoning, scientific progress, interpretations of scientific knowledge, and the social organization of scientific practice. Its aim is not only to familiarize you with philosophical issues about science but also to equip you to critically interpret popular reports about contemporary scientific research. Unit 1 introduces philosophy of science as a discipline distinct from psychology of science, history of science, and sociology of science. Unit 2 examines the nature and objectivity of observational evidence, and Unit 3 examines methods of reasoning relevant to induction, confirmation, and explanation. Unit 4 examines accounts of theory change and scientific progress, and Unit 5 addresses the interpretation of scientific knowledge. Finally, Unit 6 explores various topics concerning science in a social…
This course provides an introduction to the history of technology for the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) major. The course surveys major technological developments from ancient to modern times with particular attention to social, political, and cultural contexts in Europe and the United States. You will also think critically about the theory of technological determinism, the ways in which technology has defined “progress” and “civilization”, and the major ethical considerations surrounding today’s technological decisions. This course begins with discussions of the promotion of technology in centralized states of the ancient and medieval worlds: the Roman Empire, Song and Ming China, and the Islamic Abbasid Empire. After a period of relative decline, the states of Western Europe centralized and flourished once again, having benefited from the westward transmission of key ideas and technologies from the East. The focus of the course then shifts to the West, to the technologies of the Renai…
How and why was the Bible written? Drawing on the latest archeological research and a wide range of comparative texts, this course synthesizes fascinating recent research in biblical studies and presents a powerful new thesis: Facing catastrophic defeat, the biblical authors created a new form of community—what today we would call "peoplehood." Their achievements bear directly on modern questions of politics, economics, and theology.
This course is an introduction to problems about creativity as it pervades human experience and behavior. Questions about imagination and innovation are studied in relation to the history of philosophy as well as more recent work in philosophy, affective psychology, cognitive studies, and art theory. Readings and guidance are aligned with the student's focus of interest.
The Creole languages spoken in the Caribbean are linguistic by-products of the historical events triggered by colonization and the slave trade in Africa and the "New World". In a nutshell, these languages are the results of language acquisition in the specific social settings defined by the history of contact between African and European peoples in 17th-/18th-century Caribbean colonies.
One of the best known Creole languages, and the one with the largest community of speakers, is Haitian Creole. Its lexicon and various aspects of its grammar are primarily derived from varieties of French as spoken in 17th-/18th-century colonial Haiti. Other aspects of its grammar seem to have emerged under the influence of African languages, mostly from West and Central Africa. And yet other properties seem to have no analogues in any of the source languages.
Through a sample of linguistic case studies focusing on Haitian Creole morphosyntax, we will explore creolization from a cognitive, historical and comparative perspective. Using Haitian Creole and some of its Caribbean congeners as test cases, we will evaluate various hypotheses about the development of Creole languages and about the role of first- and second-language acquisition in such development.
We will also explore the concept of Creolization in its non-linguistic senses. Then we will address questions of "Caribbean identities" by examining a sample of Creole speakers' attitudes toward the Creole language and the corresponding European language and toward the African and European components of their ethnic make-up.
This course will provide a selective historical survey of some philosophical approaches to questions of political economy and justice. Political economy is the integrated study of the relationships of government, political processes, property, production, markets, trade, and distribution from the standpoint of assessing these arrangements with respect to human welfare and justice.