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Autumn Quarter 2017

HONORS 393: Rhetoric of Science (5 credits)
Leah Ceccarelli

Mondays and Wednesdays
11:30 am - 1:20 pm

Insofar as scientists use language and visual displays to communicate with others, they use rhetoric, selecting some aspects of reality to convey, and deflecting other aspects of reality from attention. Studying how scientists use rhetoric to communicate, and how nonscientists use rhetoric to argue about science and its effects in the public sphere, students in this class will discover the means of persuasion available to shape science, its products, and the relationship between both and the publics that surround them. Those who are considering a career in science will learn how to think critically about the internal and external discourse of science, improving their use of rhetorical tools in the process. Those who do not intend to become scientists will learn how to critically analyze the claims of science and respond thoughtfully and effectively to its potential influence on them in the modern world.

PHIL 482: Philosophy of Physical Science: Probability and Determinism in Quantum Mechanics (5 credits)
Benjamin H. Feintzeig

Tuesdays and Thursdays
9:30 am - 11:20 am

Quantum mechanics is our best physical theory of the constitution of matter, but infamously it only gives probabilistic predictions. Instead of telling us exactly where an electron is, quantum mechanics can only say, for example, that the electron will be here with probability one half. In this class, we'll ask how one should interpret the probabilistic statements of quantum mechanics. Could our probabilistic predictions about the electron signify a mere lack of knowledge about where the electron is? Could we find a better theory of the electron with more information, or hidden variables, that allows us to predict where the electron is with certainty? We'll discuss a number of famous mathematical results, including Bell's theorem and the Kochen-Specker theorem, that purport to show the answer is "no"--quantum mechanics is inherently indeterministic. This course will use mathematical methods: students will be asked to write mathematical proofs using the theory of classical and quantum probability. At times, some familiarity with formal logic will be helpful. However, no background in mathematics is assumed or required.

TEDUC 520: Multicultural Education (3 credits)
Matthew Weinstein

Mondays
4:15 pm - 6:15 pm

This graduate class explores the meaning of diversity in education, the role of culture, race and language in education. This class combines an academic focus on research on those variables upon schools and student achievement and practical approaches. This course focuses specifically on mathematics and science as special problems in thinking about multiculturalism in terms of both their function in the education system, content and pedagogy.


Winter Quarter 2018

COM 539: Theories of Technology and Society (5 credits)
Kirsten Foot

This course focuses theories useful for studying the internet and other new communication and information technologies of our present moment. This course contextualizes current communication tools and technologies into longer trajectories of histories of ideas and comparisons to “old” media. We also look at the impact of technological innovation more generally (for example, technologies of the body, the turn to “new materialisms”, and the role of “protocol” as social control).

This course will provide a theoretical foundation for further study in the communication department’s core area of technology & society. The course is also appropriate for graduate students in areas of the social sciences and humanities who are interested in a grounding their research in theories of the social, political, and cultural contexts for and implications of technological change. As it addresses key ideas from the technology half of science and technology studies, it is appropriate for students interesting in UW’s Science, Technology and Society Studies certificate (and counts as a course in that certificate program). At the end of the course, students should be able to

1) Identify key literatures, topics, and debates in the area of technology & society from a broad multidisciplinary perspective and locate their own research interests within these debates;

2) Use the theoretical basis of this course to ground further research, prepare for qualifying exams, and do continued coursework in the technology & society area in communication or within their home departments and programs;

3) Develop an extended paper on a topic of their choice related to course material; and

4) Begin independent, professional-quality research in the area of technology & society.

PHIL 464: Philosophical Issues in Cognitive Science (5 credits)
Carole Lee

Philosophical problems connected with research in psychology, artificial intelligence, and other cognitive sciences. Topics vary. Readings from both philosophical and scientific literature. Accessible to nonphilosophers with suitable interests and backgrounds.


Spring Quarter 2018

PHIL 560: Seminar in Philosophy of Science: Philosophy of Probability (5 credits)
Benjamin H. Feintzeig

The use of probability theory is ubiquitous in the sciences---from its theoretical role in quantum and statistical physics to its methodological role in statistical testing and experimentation, and its practical role in modeling the beliefs of agents in the social sciences. How did probability theory come to have such diverse applications? And how should we understand and interpret probability assignments in light of this diversity? This course will take a historical overview of the development of probability theory from the classical view of the Enlightenment to the 20th century frequentist and subjective belief approaches and the mathematical foundation provided by Kolmogorov. Our focus will be primarily on the philosophical questions that motivated these mathematical developments, and their relation to the conceptual, methodological, and epistemological foundation of the sciences.


Programs

History and Philosophy of Science - Major (UW Seattle)
http://depts.washington.edu/hps/

Science, Technology and Society - Major (UW Bothell)
http://www.uwb.edu/sciencetechsociety

Comparative History of Ideas - Major (UW Seattle)
http://depts.washington.edu/chid/