Prof. Uchii's Seminar on Philosophy of Biology ('99)

(For Undergraduates and Graduates; undergraduates are urged to register at Center for Information and Multimedia Studies, CIMS [we have a satellite in the 3rd floor, Bungakubu-Shinkan], in order that they should be able to browse online course materials on the web! Alternatively, they may use computers at the main library.)

BEWARE! I am writing in ENGLISH because Wesley and Merrilee Salmon are coming NEXT YEAR. Their classes shall be conducted ALL IN ENGLISH. You are supposed to improve your English, and BEGIN RIGHT AWAY!!!

Until some time ago, philosophyers of science concentrated almost exclusively on philosophy of physics and of mathematics. However, the situation has considerably changed recently, thanks to the works of such people as Marjorie Green, David Hull, Michael Ruse, and Elliott Sober, etc., who have energetically investigated philosophical problems related with biology. This year, I will pick up Michael Ruse's following book, which is good for beginner students; it also contains a good bibliography up to 1988. However, since this book is a sort of overall review of the major topics in the field, we have to fill in concrete materials for each chapter.

We will begin from Chapter 1. Students quite unfamiliar with biology can join, but they should learn and prepare something by themselves. For instance, they certainly have to consult a standard textbook of biology. They have to cultivate their sensitivity to the problems in the field, by looking at current debates on various subjects. For example, by joining the Mailing List "Human ML" (see our Links), you may have a glimpse of professional and popular controversies over biology and related subjects, such as sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, structuralism in biology (an anti-Darwinian movement in biology, and Dr. Atuhiro Sibatani is still active and polemical as ever!), eugenics, feminism, and a lot more (this ML is closed); a site originated from this ML (but now independent) is quite useful for beginners.

Also, never forget to visit Prof. Uchii's site, which will be updated every week!

And for the assignments, see the bottom of this page!!

Michael Ruse, Philosophy of Biology Today, State University of New York Press, 1988.

Modern biology has become one of the most vibrant of empirical inquiries. Molecular theories and techniques have transformed genetics. Evolutionary theory has had its most exciting two decades since Darwin. Human beings have been brought into the fold, by specialists ranging in disciplines from paleoanthoropology to sociobiology. Systematics has thrown up new theories and techniques. And social issues abound, from the propriety of recombinant DNA research to the fight against Creationism, ... . (Introduction, p. 2)

CONTENTS (extra materials are indicated after →)


1. Evolutionary Theory →for the methdology that influenced Darwin, see Uchii's Herschel-Mill on Induction and Whewell on Induction; →Popper on Darwinism

2. Population Genetics →Hardy-Weinberg Law;

3. Molecular Biology →Theory Reduction; →A Semantic View on Reduction

4. Challenges to the Paradigm

5. Teleology

6. Systematics

7. Human Biology →Darwin on Morality; →Darwinism and Ethics (Japanese); →Evolutionary Ethics 1 (Japanese), →Evolutionary Ethics 2 (Japanese), →Evolution of Altruism by group selection Modified, Brain worm New

8. Philosophical Implications

9. Other Topics

10. Other Lands



After finishing Ruse's survey book, we will pick up a few essays from:

Elliott Sober, ed., Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology, 2nd ed., MIT Press, 1994.

Papers to be read are:

Susan K. Mills and John H. Beatty, "The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness"

John Maynard Smith, "Optimization Theory in Biology"

For Optimization Theory, see M. Hasegawa (1999, below); For ESS, see my What's ESS?

George C. Williams, Excerpts from Adaptation and Natural Selection









第一回課題 生物学における還元主義について、ルースの議論を要約せよ。2000字以内。 締め切り1999年6月22日(火)

(ル−スの議論に混乱させられてすっきりしない人は、次を参照。→A Semantic View on Reduction

第二回課題 Mills and Beaty 論文を要約せよ。2000字以内。 締め切り1999年11月9日(火)

Last modified, April 13, 2006. (c) Soshichi Uchii