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PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY (LM)

CODE 53020
ACADEMIC YEAR 2022/2023
CREDITS
  • 6 cfu during the 1st year of 8465 METODOLOGIE FILOSOFICHE (LM-78) - GENOVA
  • 6 cfu during the 2nd year of 8465 METODOLOGIE FILOSOFICHE (LM-78) - GENOVA
  • SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR M-FIL/02
    LANGUAGE Italian
    TEACHING LOCATION
  • GENOVA
  • SEMESTER 1° Semester
    TEACHING MATERIALS AULAWEB

    OVERVIEW

    The module analyzes central topics in philosophy of biology with a special focus on epistemological and ethical questions in genetics and evolutionary biology.

    AIMS AND CONTENT

    LEARNING OUTCOMES

    The module offers an overview of historical and contemporary debates in philosophy of biology with a special focus on genetics, evolutionary biology, sociobiology, and psychology. Students will need to read and analyze materials at the crossroad of philosophical and scientific research.

    AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

    The specific educational aims are: Developing the analytic skills and conceptual tools required for making rigorous arguments; Analyzing theoretical notions such as reductionism, determinism, heredity, evolution, epigenetics, nature, and nurture by referring to both epistemological and ontological aspects; Learning to critically analyze theoretical issues in biological sciences through the lenses of philosophy of science.

    After the course, students will be able to: Explain and summarize interdisciplinary material through the proper conceptual and linguistic means; Apply philosophical tools to contemporary scientific issues, with a special focus on those arising from the biological sciences; Critically evaluate the relationship between philosophy and science by making conceptual connections, arguments, and counterarguments in autonomy.

    PREREQUISITES

    It is recommended (but not mandatory) to have previously attended a module in Philosophy of Science. For the sake of enhancing learning, scientific topics will be introduced and developed gradually, so that no prior knowledge of scientific subjects will be required.

    TEACHING METHODS

    The module is organized around lectures delivered by the professor and brief presentations by the students (not mandatory). During the course, researchers from other universities might be invited to give talks on related topics. Registration to the module’s Aulaweb page is mandatory as further material for the exam preparation will be uploaded therein. The lectures will be delivered face to face.

    SYLLABUS/CONTENT

    The lectures will cover main topics in philosophy of biology, particularly: reductionism; determinism; the nature/nurture problem; genetics and epigenetics, the biological and psychological basis of intelligence; evolutionary biology; sociobiology and the debate on the selfish gene. Through these topics, it will be shown that achieving a deeper understanding of living beings requires an interdisciplinary dialogue between philosophy and the life sciences.

    RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

    For students attending lectures

    1) One of the following books:

    - Dupré, J. (2001). Natura Umana. Perché la scienza non basta. Roma: Laterza, 2007.

    - Eldredge, N. (1995). Ripensare Darwin. Il dibattito alla Tavola Alta dell’evoluzione. Torino: Einaudi, 1999.

    - Marcus, G. (2004). La nascita della mente. Come un piccolo numero di geni crea la complessità del pensiero umano. Torino: Codice Edizioni, 2008.

    - Serpico, D. (2022). L’intelligenza tra natura e cultura. Torino: Rosenberg & Sellier.

    2) For students who have not attended any course in Philosophy of Science, also some chapters from Amoretti, M. C. & Serpico, D. (2022). Filosofia della scienza: Parole chiave. Roma: Carocci.

     

    For students unable to attend the lectures

    1) Amoretti, M. C. & Serpico, D. (2022). Filosofia della scienza: Parole chiave. Roma: Carocci.

    2) One of the following:

    - Borghini, A. & Casetta, E. (2013). Filosofia della biologia. Roma: Carocci.

    - Godfrey-Smith, P. (2016). Philosophy of Biology. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    3) One of the following:

    - Dupré, J. (2001). Natura Umana. Perché la scienza non basta. Roma: Laterza, 2007.

    - Eldredge, N. (1995). Ripensare Darwin. Il dibattito alla Tavola Alta dell’evoluzione. Torino: Einaudi, 1999.

    - Marcus, G. (2004). La nascita della mente. Come un piccolo numero di geni crea la complessità del pensiero umano. Torino: Codice Edizioni, 2008.

    - Serpico, D. (2022). L’intelligenza tra natura e cultura. Torino: Rosenberg & Sellier.

    TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

    Exam Board

    DAVIDE SERPICO (President)

    MARIA CRISTINA AMORETTI

    DANIELE PORELLO (Substitute)

    LESSONS

    LESSONS START

    12 October

    EXAMS

    EXAM DESCRIPTION

    For students attending lectures: Oral examination (30 points out of 30). Students will have the possibility to replace part of the assessment (20 points out of 30) with a brief presentation during the course. Details about the presentation will be agreed with the professor.

    For students unable to attend the lectures: Oral examination (30 points out of 30).

    It is mandatory to register to the examination at least one week in advance.

     

    ASSESSMENT METHODS

    For students attending lectures: The oral examination and the presentation during the course (not mandatory) assess the student’s ability in: synthetizing and illustrating materials in philosophy of biology through the appropriate conceptual and linguistic means (10 points out of 30); applying philosophical tools to contemporary scientific issues, with a special focus on biological questions (10 points out of 30); critically analyzing the relationship between natural sciences and philosophy by making conceptual connections, arguments, and counter-arguments in autonomy (10 points out of 30).

    For students unable to attend the lectures: The oral examination assesses the student’s ability in: synthetizing and illustrating materials in philosophy of biology through the appropriate conceptual and linguistic means (10 points out of 30); applying philosophical tools to contemporary scientific issues, with a special focus on biological questions (10 points out of 30); critically analyzing the relationship between natural sciences and philosophy by making conceptual connections, arguments, and counter-arguments in autonomy (10 points out of 30).

    Exam schedule

    Date Time Location Type Notes
    12/12/2022 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    18/01/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    03/02/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    08/05/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale Appello riservato ai laureandi
    19/06/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    03/07/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    19/07/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    04/09/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale

    FURTHER INFORMATION

    Students unable to attend lectures are requested to contact the professor before the examination. Lectures will be delivered in Italian, but it is possible to take the oral examination and receiving materials in English.