Richard has taught at the University of Arizona since 1991. He teaches a variety of courses in philosophy of science, including philosophy of biology and physics. For descriptions of courses Prof. Healey regularly teaches, click the links on the left.

philosophy of biological sciences

Course Description.

In recent years the philosophy of biology has become a lively field of interdisciplinary research in which philosophers and biologists have worked together —to clarify basic biological concepts such as the concept of a species, of fitness and of function —to determine the proper role of teleological explanation in science —to understand the structure and confirmation of evolutionary theory —to examine and attempt to resolve disputes in biology concerning (for example) the level(s) at which natural selection operates, and how far adaptationist explanations should be sought —to clarify the relative importance of individuals, species and ecosystems in conservation biology —to investigate the extent to which evolutionary thinking can contribute to an understanding of altruism, cooperative behavior, and human moral concepts —to pursue the broader implications of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (the title of a book by the prominent philosopher Daniel Dennett) for the theory of knowledge, for moral psychology and moral theory, for an understanding of culture, and even for the question of whether life has meaning, and if so what it is

In this introduction to the philosophy of evolutionary biology we'll look at some of these topics (at least) to survey the contemporary state of play. No prior knowledge of biology is required other than minimal acquaintance with the theory of biological evolution through natural selection and of the basic ideas of genetics. Nor is any specific knowledge of philosophy in general or philosophy of science in particular. But this is an upper division course, and we shall be tackling some pretty tough problems whose resolution will require some clear abstract thinking.