Philosophy of Biology (Science 3)

Subject HPSC30025 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 (2 x 1hour lectures and 1 x 1hour tutorial each week.)
Total Time Commitment: An average of 8.5 hours each week.
Prerequisites: At least two of the following subjects (25 points) must be completed before enrolling in HPSC30025:

HPSC20001 Darwinism

HPSC20010 Intimacy and Technology

HPSC20020 God and the Natural Sciences

HPSC20002 A History of Nature

PHIL20001 Science, Reason and Reality

HPSC20009 Cybersociety

HPSC20015 Astronomy in World History

Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: Knowledge gained in the completion of at least two HPS subjects at level 2.
Non Allowed Subjects: Students who have completed 'Philosophy of Biology' under any of the codes 136-207, 136-307, 672-326 or HPSC30028 are not permitted top enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:
Subject Overview:

Is biology a unique and autonomous science? Or are biological issues and theories adequately dealt with by using the framework developed for the physical sciences? Do Kuhnian revolutions occur in the biological sciences? How are the functionalist biological sciences that study physiology and cellular processes linked to and/or distinct from the historical or evolutionary biological sciences? These are some of the questions considered in this subject. Discussion of such general issues is pursued through case studies which might include study of the work of Robert Brown - an early 19th century taxonomist. consideration of the procedures adopted by the mid twentieth century metabolic biochemist, Hans Krebs. and the conditions that led to the rise of molecular biochemistry and genomics in the second half of the twentieth century.


Students who successfully complete this subject should

  • Develop new appreciation of biological concepts through recognising the historical and philosophical circumstances of their emergence
  • Develop the capacity for critical analysis of a theoretical approach to examining biological sciences as systems of knowledge and practice.

Assessment: A 2000 word essay 50% (due mid-semester) and a 2-hour exam 50% (in the examination period). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader with key texts will be available from the bookshop.

Further readings will be available on-line through the subject LMS website.

Recommended Texts:

What Makes Biology Unique? Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline (Enrst Mayr), Cambridge University Press 2004

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • Develop analytic and critical reading skills
  • Develop skills in analytic writing

Links to further information:
Notes: This subject is only available to pre 2008 science students for credit at third year level. Students enrolled in the BSc (pre-2008 degree only), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc) will receive science credit for the completion of this subject. This subject is not available as Breadth for new Gen students.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science (pre-2008 Bachelor of Science)
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses

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