PHI 177 CC: THE MEANING OF DINOSAURS
How much can we really know about dinosaurs, given the incompleteness of the fossil record? How and why have representations of dinosaurs changed over time? This course offers an introduction to the history and philosophy of dinosaur science, with attention to the broader cultural and historical context of paleontological research. For example, how has fieldwork in paleontology, past and present, been involved with nationalism and colonialism? Why does field science seem so male dominated, even though some of the most successful early fossil collectors (Mary Anning and Mary Ann Mantell) were women? What are some of the ethical and legal issues concerning the collection and sale of fossils? The course also connects traditional questions in the philosophy of science (e.g., how do scientists reconstruct the deep past?) with contemporary environmental concerns. How has dinosaur science shaped our understanding of environmental catastrophe? And finally, does dinosaur science challenge religious belief? Does it challenge human-centered value systems? The class will include field trips to see dinosaur trackways in the Connecticut River Valley, the Peabody Museum at Yale, and/or the Beneski Museum of Natural History in Amherst, MA.
As a ConnCourse, this course makes connections across the liberal arts.
Enrollment limited to 28 students.
A6, W, CC