English-language Program HEPS Summer Term 2016

 
Note: The summer term begins on April 11 and ends on July 22. 
 

Philosophy of Science Courses 

Theory and Observation
Martin Carrier, Tue 14-16 h 
 
In the traditional understanding, the relationship between theory and observation is asymmetric in that observation confers credibility on theory whereas theory does not affect observation. For this reason, observation is the source of epistemic authority of science. However, in the past half century, various positions have emerged that advocate a more reciprocal relationship between theory and evidence. In particular, the theory-ladenness of observation suggets that observation theories determine the significance and reliability of observations or that the relevance of observations are judged or need to be judged in light of background knowledge. Another topic is the claimed reciprocal dependence between judging the appropriateness of an experiment and the result of this experiment. On the other hand, the surging emphasis on data-intensive science has produced a renewed interest in inductive methods that are supposed to instantiate a new import and independence of observations regarding theory.
 
Philosophy of Medicine
Saana Jukola, Tue 10-12pm
 
This course provides an introduction to the central themes in the philosophy of medicine. The aim is to discuss ontological, epistemological, and ethical questions that arise when medical research is conducted and applied to clinical decision-making. The course comprises three parts. In the first part, we shall discuss the concepts of health and disease, examine the problems of causation and explanation, and consider the meaning of placebo. The second part focuses on the practice of medicine and medical research. We shall begin with examining different methods of producing medical knowledge and analyzing their epistemic strengths and weaknesses. The central questions of evidence-based medicine are discussed. The problem of alternative medicine is introduced. The part ends with an introduction to questions related to diagnosis. The part three of the course concerns the relationship between medicine and society:  We shall ask how to secure the public’s trust in medical research and how to safeguard the objectivity of medical knowledge. Questions of risks in medicine and the relevance of discussing race and gender in the context of medicine are considered. The course ends with a short introduction to medical ethics. 
Readings: 

History of Science 

Fin de siècle Vienna: Science and Material Culture of a Central-European Metropolis 
Veronika Hofer,
 
At the time of its demise in 1918, as a result of the First World War, the multinational Habsburg Empire was characterized simultaneously by a multitude of internal fractures and a stunning intellectual prosperity. In the three decades around 1900, Vienna became the melting pot for a large number of artistic, cultural, and scientific traditions that gave birth to modernity in their respective domains, chiefly influencing similar developments in other metropolis. These changes include urban architecture; a handful of literary movements; twelve-tone music; biology, physiology, and medicine; psychoanalysis; statistical physics; and the philosophy of science. 
While scholars traditionally have focused primarily on a few outstanding figures, among them Freud, Mahler, Wittgenstein, and Boltzmann, recent scholarship in the U.S. and Europe has successfully mapped the interrelations among the different movements and carved out the peculiarities of Vienna as compared to the simultaneous developments in Germany and France; among them its own brands of fin-de-siècle culture, of liberalism, of empiricism, and cosmopolitanism within a multinational empire. 
The aim of this class is to study this cultural and scientific turn with the help of selected papers and by explaining Vienna’s material culture, exemplified by some outstanding Archives, Museums, University departments and Laboratories where these developments have taken place. The goal is to understand the density of the social, cultural and interdisciplinary fabric of Vienna’s Fin de siècle. 
 
Learning Outcomes