Courses Taught at the University of Pittsburgh
Magic, Medicine, and Science (History of Physiology and Medicine), Spring 2020 [Syllabus] [Remote Learning Update]
- Course Description: This course will focus on the history of medicine and physiology, covering important medical and biological texts from the Ancient Greeks to the Renaissance. Because the literature on this topic is vast, we will focus our study on the scientific and medical views of sex and sex differences, looking primarily at historical accounts of the female and male roles in reproduction and generation. In addition, we will explore the complex and interconnected relationship among magic, religion, and medicine throughout the majority of this history. For the first half of the course, we will focus on the Ancient Greeks, including the Hippocratic Corpus, Aristotle, and Galen. In the second half, we will explore the uptake and modification of these ancient views on sex difference in the Late Middle Ages before exploring some of the ways in which these ancient views continue to influence modern medicine. By tracing these important lines of thought in Western intellectual history, this course will enable students to gain an understanding of the origins of modern medical science. There are no prerequisites and no background in history or biology is required. The course is designed for students interested in history, biology, or science more generally, and it satisfies the University of Pittsburgh’s Historical Change general education requirement.
Philosophy of Biology, Fall 2019 [Syllabus]
- Course Description: Biology—the study of life—takes living organisms as its subject matter. Philosophy of biology, in similar fashion, takes the science of biology as its subject matter. As part of philosophy of science, philosophy of biology aims to understand the ways in which biological knowledge is produced. Methodologically, there are at least two different ways to do philosophy of biology. First, philosophy of biology can bring philosophical tools and analysis to bear on conceptual puzzles in biology. For instance, philosophers of biology have devoted considerable attention to analyzing various concepts of evolutionary theory, such as ‘fitness’ and ‘function’. Second, philosophy of biology can explore various topics of general philosophy of science within the context of biology. In this second vein, philosophers of biology have considered questions about the status of laws in biology and the relationship between successive theories of genetics. In this introductory course, we will consider some of the core issues in philosophy of biology from both perspectives. There are no prerequisites, and no background knowledge in either philosophy or biology is required. The course is designed for students interested in philosophy, biology, or science more generally.
Mind and Medicine (Philosophy of Medicine and Philosophy of Psychiatry), Spring 2018 [Syllabus]
- Course Description: This course is designed as an introduction to the philosophical issues that exist at the intersection of biology and medicine. Among others, we will examine the following questions: What is disease? Can one define disease and disorder purely objectively? Are psychiatric disorders real? How should scientists explain psychiatric disorders and other medical conditions? How do researchers study diseases? What is the relation between the causes of disease and their symptoms? The goal of this class is to provide students with a critical understanding of these philosophical issues. Previous knowledge of biology, neuroscience, or medicine is not needed for this class. Key notions and theories in these fields will be introduced progressively.
Morality and Medicine (Bioethics), Fall 2017 [Syllabus]
- Course Description: Each of us in this course will likely be directly confronted at some point with difficult biomedical and bioethical choices concerning our own lives, the lives of family members, or the lives of patients under our care. This course is designed to improve your decision-making ability in these contexts by providing a philosophical framework in which to judge the values you find most important and determine how to apply them to specific biomedical and bioethical cases. In this course we will examine a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of contemporary medical practice and research by analyzing articles and decision scenarios. Topics to be covered include informed consent and human experimentation, selective abortion and genetic screening, end of life issues, euthanasia, race in medicine, and various ethical aspects of public health policy. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify and analyze different philosophical approaches to selected issues in medical ethics, and they will have gained insight into how to read and critically interpret philosophical arguments. Moreover, this course will help students develop written and oral skills that will enable them to think and express themselves clearly about ethical questions as future or current health care providers, policy makers, and consumers.
University of Pittsburgh, Department of History and Philosophy of Science
- Mind and Medicine, Prof. James Woodward, Spring 2016
- Morality and Medicine, Prof. Sandra Mitchell, Fall 2015
- Biochemistry Lab, Dr. Allison Tracy, Fall 2011 and Spring 2012
- Chemistry Discovery Center, Dr. Diana Hamilton, Fall 2010 and Spring 2011
- Graduate Tutor, Chemistry Tutorial Center, Dr. Tiffany Gierasch, Fall 2010 and Spring 2011
- Biomedical Ethics, Prof. Stephan Blatti, Spring 2010
- Fundamental Issues in Philosophy, Prof. Mary Beth Mader, Fall 2009