version 2019-01-08


HPS 1702 Junior/Senior Seminar & HPS 1703 Writing Workshop for HPS Majors

Spring 2020 syllabus

SEMINAR W 1-3:25 in CL 304

(Prof.) Colin Allen <>
Office: CL 1109H
Office hours: Tuesdays 1:45-2:45, Wednesdays 12-1, and by appointment

Course Description

HPS 1702 Junior/Senior seminar
This seminar is intended to be a "capstone" experience for majors in history and philosophy of science. So far, each of you have taken an array of courses that specialize in one of other aspect of HPS. The purpose of this seminar is to give you a more advanced understanding of both history of science and philosophy of science than you may have had in your introductory classes. It will also give you direct experience of how someone with a background in HPS synthesizes their history of science and their philosophy of science. The only way to learn to create HPS is by doing it. The early parts of the seminar will present you with examples of how historical and philosophical analysis of science can be combined. As the seminar proceeds, you will carry out a series of assignments in history and in philosophy of science that will build and combine into a final, term paper project in which you will synthesize history and philosophy of science. The historical part will arise through your researching of some episode in history of science that both interests you and promises to interact in an interesting way with a philosophical topic of interest to you. You will also present your results in a poster. The use of posters was once uncommon in HPS, but their use is becoming frequent, so learning how to present material is an essential skill for scholars in HPS.
HPS 1703 Writing Workshop for HPS Majors
The goal of this workshop is to develop expertise in writing scholarly work within the discipline of history and philosophy of science. The exercises that comprise the workshop are integrated into the assignments of the Junior/Senior seminar. The emphases will be on writing simply and clearly; on proper incorporation of historical materials; on cogent formulation and presentation of philosophical theses and arguments; and on conforming your writing the sorts of style sheets commonly used in the HPS literature.

What you will be doing

It is expected that you will attend the seminar each week, having carried out the assigned preparation. In the first half of the semester there will be smaller assignments, to be completed in advance of the seminar. Their content will be the basis of seminar discussions each week. 10% of your grade in 1702 will be based on your contributions to the discussion. Your major assignment will be a project that combines analysis of some episode in the history of science with issues in philosophy of science covered in the seminar. The outcome of the project will be a term paper and a poster presentation on your project. The project will be broken down into a series of smaller assignments. The exercises for the writing workshop will be carried out in the context of these smaller assignments.

Canvas is the new courseweb

We will be using Canvas at instead of the Blackboard system you have used previously and which is being phased out by the university.

Policy on Laptops and other Electronic Devices

To the extent that it supports the goals of the class, the use of laptops and other means of accessing the Internet is encouraged. But if I detect that you are using your device in a way that distracts you from participation in the class, I will ask you to put it away, and repeat offenses will affect your participation grade.

Grading Basis

This is an intensive writing class. Pitt’s rubric for IW classes are as follows. Students:
      (i) will begin writing early in the term;
      (ii) write regularly throughout the term;
      (iii) receive instructive responses between assignments;
      (iv) willl revise some of their work significantly; and
      (v) will write between 20 and 25 pages in all
As instructor, I am of course responsible for item (iii), which is why it’s important that you get the assignments to me on time. There are seven writing assignments, with details specified further below. Collectively they count for 50% of your grade. The specific percentages are specified with the details below. Note that these assignments are cumulative so if you miss one, it will likely have knock-on effects that are bigger than the percentage assigned to any one assignment.

During the final meeting of the class on 4/15 there will be a public poster session to which members of the HPS research community at Pitt are invited. This session is always a fun event -- a chance to showcase your work and receive excellent feed back from the research community at Pitt that will also help you refine your final paper. There might also be doughnuts.

30% of your grade in 1702 is based on the poster and the work you show during the practice presentations scheduled for the preceding two weeks (4/1 and 4/8). Details about the poster session, and suggestions about how to construct and present one will be provided in class on 3/18. You should also upload to Canvas a final version of your poster by the morning of 4/15.

10% of your grade in 1702 will be based on your contributions to the classroom discussions and my assessment of how well you prepared for those discussions.

Writing Assignment Details

All writing assignments are due on MONDAYS.

All are specified in minimum number of pages. To convert to words, assume that one double-spaced page with standard 1-inch margin at 12pt font =~ 250 words. Page maximums are 125% of the stated minimums. You can submit written work in any of these electronic formats: .pages, .odt, .docx, .rtf, .pdf.

The listed percentages are for HPS 1702 grades, and they sum to 60%. Your grade for HPS 1703 is based entirely on these seven writing assignments, so multiply by 1.67 to scale to 100%.

W1 History of Science: Source and Context (1 page, 5%) DUE MONDAY 1/20
Select an episode in the history of science that interests you and identify (a) a good source; (b) a poor source; (c) an appropriate context; (d) an inappropriate context. Ideally you will pick something that you think has philosophical significance, although you don’t have to explain that significance for this assignment. You may use examples already discussed in class, but if you do you must add something to the prior classroom discussion.
W2 Philosophy of Science thesis and argument (1 page, 5%) DUE MONDAY 2/3
In some area of PoS that interests you, (a) identify a thesis of central importance; and (b) an argument that supports the thesis. Ideally you will pick a thesis that has something to do with the historical episode you identified in W1, although you don’t have to explain the connection for this assignment. You may use examples already discussed in class, but if you do you must add something to the prior classroom discussion.
W3 Integrative HPS (1 page, 5%) DUE MONDAY 2/17
There are many ways that HoS and PoS can be combined in HPS. Select some piece of HPS scholarship and identify how the “H” and the “P” are connected in it. Ideally you will connect the items you discussed in W1 and W2, but it is not necessary that you do so. You may use examples already discussed in class, but if you do you must add something to the prior classroom discussion.
W4 Research paper proposal (2 pages, 5%) DUE MONDAY 3/2
Identify a philosophical question and an historical episode for which it arises. State your thesis, sketch the argument for it, and identify the sources and context that you will use to ground and frame your research. Your proposal should also specify which journal format you will use.
W5 Draft of research paper (8 pages, 10%) DUE MONDAY 3/16
Your draft should include a bibliography of at least 5 items.
W6 Peer review (1 page, 5%) DUE MONDAY 3/23
Write a peer review of another student's draft. Be critical but constructive -- i.e., include suggestions for how to improve it.
W7 Final paper (15 pages including bibliography, 25%) DUE MONDAY 4/20
Develop your draft by responding to feedback you have received from your instructor, peer review, and visitors to your poster. Your final paper should conform to the journal instructions to authors for the journal you have chosen to emulate, including fonts, margins, citation format, etc.

Late submission of the assignments is strongly discouraged. Each assignment builds on the ones before, so falling behind in one can lead to cascading difficulties. If an extension is sought, it should only be for a few days. The need for the extension should be explained in writing and a date indicated in writing for the late submission.

Schedule of Class Meetings: Topics, Readings, & Preparation

1/8 Orientations
Introductions to each other, to HPS research, and to basic historiography.
1/15 Historiography and History of Science
Come to class having read SEP article on "Historicist theories of scientific rationality" and Dror 1999 "The Affect of Experiment: The turn to emotions in Anglo-American physiology, 1900-1940". Be prepared to talk briefly about an episode in the history of science that interests you.
1/22 Philosophy of Science
Come to class having read Allen & Bekoff 1994 "Intentionality, Social Play, and Definition". Be prepared to provide constructive criticism of the arguments presented.
1/29 Philosophy in Contemporary Science
Come to class having read Allen 2006 "Transitive inference in animals: Reasoning or conditioned associations?" and Meketa 2014 "A critique of the principle of cognitive simplicity in comparative cognition". Be prepared to describe briefly an issue in philosophy of science that interests you and that you have read about.
2/5 Integrative HPS (&HPS)
Come to class having read Fitzpatrick & Goodrich 2016 "Building a Science of Animal Minds: Lloyd Morgan, Experimentation, and Morgan’s Canon".
2/12 Empirical Approaches: Surveying Scientists
Come to class having read Machery et al. 2019 "Scientists’ Concepts of Innateness: Evolution or Attraction?"
2/19 Empirical Approaches: Ethnographical
Come to class having read Nersessian 2019 "Creating Cognitive-Cultural Scaffolding in Interdisciplinary Research Laboratories".
2/26 Empirical Approaches to HPS: Computational HPS
Come to class having read Murdock et al. 2017 "Exploration and exploitation of Victorian science in Darwin’s reading notebooks" and Peirson et al. 2017 "Quantitative Perspectives on Fifty Years of the Journal of the History of Biology".
3/4 Peer Review
Come to class having read ETHOS article on "Peer review". After class, before next meeting, interview a faculty member about their experience with peer review.
3/11 ~~~~~~~~Spring break, no class~~~~~~~~
3/18 Peer review, manuscript preparation, and how to construct a poster
Before class, read the examples that I will provide. Be prepared to report on your faculty interview about peer review.
Be prepared to give a 2-minute "elevator pitch" for your research project.
Students present draft posters: 5 X 3 minute "spiel", 10 minutes Q&A, 10 minutes debrief.
Students present draft posters: 5 X 3 minute "spiel", 10 minutes Q&A, 10 minutes debrief.
Public Poster Session in the Pittsburgh Center for Philosophy of Science

Course Survival

The materials and activities in this seminar are cumulative; almost everything will build on something earlier in term. So my best advice is to keep on top of the material from the start. Once you fall behind, catching up can be hard. The shorter assignments are intended to help you get into the reading, so take them seriously. I'm happy to meet with you outside regular seminar times. The easiest way to arrange a meeting is to talk to me immediately before or after the seminar or to email me.

Statement for Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please visit Pitt Student Affairs Disability Resources and Services for further information.

Statement about Academic Misconduct

University and Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences rules concerning academic misconduct will be rigorously enforced in this class. As a student at Pitt, you are expected to adhere to the standards and policies detailed in the School's Academic Integrity Code. When you submit assignments with your name on them in this course, you are signifying that the work contained therein is all yours, unless otherwise cited or referenced. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged. If you are unsure about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or exam, be sure to seek clarification beforehand. All suspected violations of the Code will be handled according to School and University policies. Sanctions for academic misconduct may include a failing grade on the assignment, reduction in your final grade, a failing grade in the course, among other possibilities, and must include a report to the Dean of Students.

Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Pittsburgh does not tolerate any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on disability, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, genetic information, marital status, familial status, sex, age, sexual orientation, veteran status or gender identity or other factors as stated in the University’s Title IX policy. The University is committed to taking prompt action to end a hostile environment that interferes with the University’s mission. For more information about policies, procedures, and practices, see:

I ask that everyone in the class strive to help ensure that other members of this class can learn in a supportive and respectful environment. If there are instances of the aforementioned issues, please contact the Title IX Coordinator, by calling 412-648-7860, or e-mailing Reports can also be filed online: You may also choose to report this to a faculty/staff member; they are required to communicate this to the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. If you wish to maintain complete confidentiality, you may also contact the University Counseling Center (412-648-7930).

Copyright Notice

Materials provided for the course may be protected by copyright. United States copyright law, 17 USC section 101, et seq., in addition to University policy and procedures, prohibit unauthorized duplication or retransmission of course materials. See Library of Congress Copyright Office and the University Copyright Policy.

Statement on Classroom Recording

To ensure the free and open discussion of ideas, students may not record classroom lectures, discussion and/or activities without the advance written permission of the instructor, and any such recording properly approved in advance can be used solely for the student’s own private use.

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