PHIL 415 (Topics in Philosophy of Biology) / PHIL 510 (Philosophy of Science) – The Neuroscience of Human Diversity,
Winter 2020 (Tuesday Thursday 11:00–12:20)
Description: This seminar takes a look at different scientific approaches to the study of human difference and diversity. Given our focus on neuroscientific, psychological, and behavioural research, we address issues at the intersection of nature and nurture. Although research on alleged cognitive differences between different races has fortunately been largely abandoned, research on sex and gender based neuroscientific and cognitive differences is thriving. We will also take a brief look at research on sexual orientation. A major focus of the seminar will be on different methodological and explanatory approaches, some of which are more after finding essential or binary differences, while others are open to understanding human diversity. For example, there are mainstream approaches in biology, including evolutionary biology, that have gone beyond any nature-nurture dichotomy (or the idea of human nature) and view neuroscientific diversity as also being due to socialization. But there is also evolutionary psychology as well as pop science books on gender differences being hard-wired into our brains. We will also discuss whether social-political values such as equity can have a legitimate role to play in the design of research, the formulation of explanatory framework, the and communication of scientific results.