Teaching

 

Supervisions

 

I supervise Honours dissertations and Independent Studies projects on a range of topics. If you are interested, please get in touch. I also welcome inquiries by students interested in pursuing an MLitt by Research or a PhD in the history and philosophy of the life sciences, in general philosophy of science, or in the philosophy of medicine.

 

Recent Courses

Controversial Questions

(University of Aberdeen, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy)

We examine questions such as: Is eating animals immoral? Is being a good or bad person a matter of luck? If so, are we justified in punishing bad people? Should anyone be able to set limits on what you can do with your own  body, even if it’s ‘for your own good’? Should everyone be allowed to state their mind, even if their views are harmful or offensive? Is censorship ever justifiable? Do you have a moral obligation to help those worse-off? Are you unknowingly biased against underprivileged groups? [Year 1]

 

Sex, Race and Disability

(University of Aberdeen, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy)

Some of the most pervasive forms of discrimination are based on sex, sexual orientation, race, and disabilities. Each of these phenomena straddles the boundaries between facts and values. This course investigates what these phenomena are in the first place, especially whether they are biological phenomena, socially constructed in some sense, or a combination of both. It also explores the extent to which they underpin, and are influenced by, intuitions about what is natural, abnormal, innate or a matter of choice. The course focuses on some of the conceptual, ontological, and scientific issues that inform what we, individually or as a society, should do, must do, are permitted to do, or must not do with respect to sexual orientation, race, and disability. [Years 3 and 4]

 

Metaphysics, Epistemology and Language

(University of Aberdeen, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy)

This course provides students with an introduction to central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic and philosophy of language. The emphasis is on introducing some of the central issues in these areas; issues that have shaped the contemporary debate. In addition to introducing a number of central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of language, this course also teaches and further develops a number of essential skills including extracting and evaluating philosophical arguments, critical writing, and the application of logical concepts to philosophical problems. [Year 2]

 

Philosophy of Medicine

(University of Aberdeen, School of Medical Sciences)

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of medicine. It focuses on foundational and theoretical (metaphysical and epistemological) issues in medicine. The topics are chosen to provide students with an overview of some of the most central questions in this area. Among the prospective topics are the notions of disease, illness, and health; the medical model of psychiatric disorders and its critics; the nature of evidence-based medicine and the epistemic status of randomized controlled trials; methodological challenges of using animal models in biomedical research; the requirements for establishing causal claims about disease etiologies; and the role of images and videos for biomedical research. [Syllabus] [Year 3]

 

Science and Philosophy

(University of Aberdeen, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy)

This course introduces students to selected topics in general philosophy of science and in the philosophy of the special sciences. Here are some of the questions we will consider: Are scientific experiments only employed in order to test hypotheses or also to explore phenomena? Does or should science promote reductionism when explaining phenomena? Are there applications of philosophy of science for health policy? Among the special sciences, we will explore topics in chemistry (natural kinds), the life sciences (biological functions), and psychology (the mind/brain as a computer). [Syllabus] [Year 2]

 

Philosophy of Biology

(Universiteit Utrecht, Descartes Centre)

The life sciences cover a broad range of disciplines, from molecular genetics, neuroscience and developmental biology to physiology, evolutionary biology, ethology, and ecology. Philosophers of biology explore the key concepts and fundamental methodologies employed in these disciplines. Over the last decades philosophy of biology has matured into a separate and dynamic field of philosophical inquiry. Apart from reflecting on specific findings and controversies within the life sciences, such exploration can shed light on debates in general philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. This course provides an introduction to the field by examining some classical topics as well as more recent developments. It will address questions such as: What does it mean to say that the function of the heart is to pump blood? Can such teleological descriptions be “naturalized”? Do biological species have essences or are they collections of spatio-temporally extended objects? Are scientists ever justified to attributing beliefs and desires to animals? Do genes play a special role for development? Do they really carry information or is ‘information’ simply a colourful metaphor for ordinary causal processes? Can developmental processes be reduced to molecular mechanisms? What is mechanistic explanation? What roles do pictorial representations play in the life sciences? What are the advantages and challenges of using model organisms for biological research? [Syllabus] [PG]