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ID Course at U of Toronto

This past term (Jan – Apr 2006), the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto offered a graduate course called “HPS 1046H – Teleology, Adaptation and Design”, taught by Denis Walsh.

Here is the summary:

HPS1046: Special Topics: Teleology, Adaptation and Design (D. Walsh)
Evolutionary biology, unlike other natural sciences, appears to deploy teleological explanations. Teleological explanations appear to be appropriate because organisms appear to be designed for specific purposes. The course discusses various attempts to naturalize, or eliminate, biological teleology. We discuss the relation of natural selection and adaptation, the adaptationist programme in evolutionary biology, normativity and function and arguments for intelligent design in biology.

The relevant links:

http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/ihpst/html/g_cour_g.html

http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/ihpst/html/g_cour_c.html

http://philosophy.utoronto.ca/people/profile.html?id=390

http://www.chairs.gc.ca/web/chairholders/viewprofile_e.asp?id=1762&

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7 Responses to ID Course at U of Toronto

  1. “Evolutionary biology, unlike other natural sciences, appears to deploy teleological explanations.”
    Interesting, why is it that the science with the lowest ratio of athiests to non-athiests is physics? Though the cosmos seems to be the product of the big bang constistently following preordained laws, the big bang event itself cries out for a teleological explanation. Furthermore, the nature of the laws of nature seem to be more carefully balanced than a Florida election — if it were not so, the entire thing just wouldn’t work. ‘smells like design to me.

    One day Judge Brown is going to discover that teleologists love the big bang, and he’ll declare it illegal to teach that too. Hey, the guy may as well be consistent.

  2. Interesting, why is it that the science with the lowest ratio of athiests to non-athiests is physics?

    Do you have a link to this? I’m really curious about the breakdown of religious beliefs by field of scientific study.

  3. Well, the ID controversy must be continuing to grow because now stuff is happening in my own back yard (University of Toronto) and I’ve never even heard of it.

    But at the VERY same time, an adult night school course on the ID controversy is also being taught at U of T by biology teacher Bob Giza, AND there are regular meetings of a group of interested adults in the med sci alumni lounge, under theadership of a local neuropsych doc. I taught last Thursday night’s adult night school session myself (addressing the question: Why is ID a major public controversy?) I have also spoken at the alumni lounge meeting on the same subject.

    Funnily enough, a McGill U (Montreal) prof Brian Alters has been raising cain because the Social Science Research Council wouldn’t give him a whack of bills to carry on about the danger to the Canadian public that ID represents. SSRC (pronounced “shirk”) may be bullied into backing down from their contention that he never demonstrated his case. Which is too bad, because in Canada, ID is mostly people meeting on campuses to discuss stuff like the anthropic coincidences and the Cambrian explosion, and see films like Voyage of the Cell. – cheers, Denyse, Toronto-based journalist
    P.S.: On the other hand, if guys like Alters make enough noise, maybe ID will morph into something more, and I can cover it on my home turf. – d.

  4. I am an astrophysics student here at UofT. I came out admitting myself as an IDist towards a few of my schoolmates here at UofT. Most were life science students of some sort. This caused a great discomfort among my schoolmates and led to a 3 hour debate in our zoology department, in one of the lecture rooms.
    I think that UofT is getting a knock at the door, and its ID. They do not like it. Questions from students about ID, led to half a biology lecture in first year about ID & creationism and how it’s not science. In the words of Prof Spencer Barrett (he added) ,remember “Evolution has no purpose or goal”. Recently, departments of Botany and Zoology have merged to form, a department of Evolution and Ecology, and stressing the importance of evolution in medicine, biology, and behaviour etc…
    Here is the link of their proposal:
    http://www.artsandscience.utor.....8Oct05.pdf

  5. Based on the course description, it seems this is an ID course in the broad sense – a course dedicated to understanding the logic of inferring function, purpose and design in nature.

    However, this doesn’t seem to be an ID course in the narrow sense. Specifically, at least based on the description, it doesn’t seem to make the leap to arguing that design should actually be inferred in living systems.

  6. [bFast: Psst, it's Judge Jones.]

  7. Denyse O’Leary is an extraordinarily bright, insightful, and articulate author and commentator. Keep an eye on her and visit http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/

    The universe and living systems are screaming design with an ever-more-shrill voice as science teaches us more about how things work, and, as a result, an increasingly Herculean effort is required to deny design and teleology by those with a vested personal or professional interest in a dying and doomed philosophy.

    This is why the opposition is in a state of complete panic, and is resorting to desperate measures to shut down debate. They can’t possibly win, because the evidence will eventually overwhelm.

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