Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2021

GESS Science in Perspective Information
Only the courses listed below will be recognized as "GESS Science in Perspective" courses.

Further below you will find courses under the category "Type B courses Reflections about subject specific methods and content" as well as the language courses.

During the Bachelor’s degree Students should acquire at least 6 ECTS and during the Master’s degree 2 ECTS.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
Type A: Enhancement of Reflection Competence
Suitable for all students.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
Philosophy
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
851-0101-01LIntroduction to Practical Philosophy
Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractPractical philosophy deals in a descriptive and evaluative way with the realm of the practical, that is, with action, practices, norms of action, and values held by people and societies. Ethics and political philosophy are branches of practical philosophy. This introductory course will treat some of the main questions and introduce students to the thinking of central figures in the field.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course, students (1) will be familiar with still highly influential answers to some of the main questions (see below, section "contents") in practical philosophy. (2) They will be able to better evaluate how convincing these answers are. (3) Students' own thinking concerning normative, e.g., ethical issues, will be more precise, due to a more sophisticated use of key concepts such as good, right, morality, law, freedom, etc.
ContentEthics is an account and instruction of the good, that could be reached by conscious, intentional behaviour (=action). Ethics is an essential part of practical philosophy. Therefore one of those central questions, which will be discussed in the course, is:

1. What is the meaning of words like "good" and "bad", used in ethical language? What is meant by "good", if one says: "Working as a volunteer for the <Red Cross> is good"? Does one mean, that doing so is useful, or that it is altruistic, or that is fair?

Further questions, to be discussed in the course, are:

2. Are moral judgements apt to be justified, e.g. judgments like "Lower taxes for rich foreigners in the <Kanton Zug> are unjust" or "Every person ought to be entitled to leave any religious community"? If so, how far a moral judgment's justification can reach? Is one right in arguing: "It is possible to show the truth of the proposition (a):The emissions of nitrogen dioxide in Zurich is far beyond the permissible limit (80 mg/m3). But it is not possible to verify the proposition (b): In our times, the inequal global distribution of wealth is far beyond the permissible limit. Proposition (a) states an objective fact, whereas (b) expresses a mere subjective evaluation, though that evaluation might be widely spread.

3. What are just laws, and what is the relationship between law and morality?

4. Is freedom of a person, though presupposed by criminal law and morality, nevertheless an illusion?

These questions will be partly discussed with reference to seminal authors within the western philosophical tradition (among else Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant). Contemporary philosophers like Jürgen Habermas, Thomas Nagel, Ernst Tugendhat or Bernard Williams will be included, too.
LiteraturePreparatory Literature:

-Dieter Birnbacher, Analytische Einführung in die Ethik, 2. Aufl. Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag 2006.
- Simon Blackburn, Think. A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, Oxford: University Press (=UP) 1999, chapters 3 und 8.
- Philippa Foot, <Virtues and Vices> in: diess., Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002, and <Morality, Action and Outcome>, in: dies., Moral Dilemmas and Other Topics in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002.
- H.L.A. Hart, <Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals, in: Harvard Law Review 71 (1958), pp. 593-629.
- Detlef Horster, Rechtsphilosophie zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag 2002.
- Robert Kane, <Introduction: The Contours of the Contemporary Free Will Debates>, in: ders., (Hg.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Oxford 2002.
– Thomas Nagel, The Limits of Objectivity, in: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values 1980, Vol I., ed. Sterling McMurrin , Cambridge et al.: UP 1980, pp. 75-139.
- Ulrich Pothast, <Einleitung> in: ders., (Hg.), Seminar: Freies Handeln und Determinismus, Frankfurt/M.: suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft 1978, pp. 7-31.
- Bernard Williams, Morality. An Introduction to Ethics, Cambridge: UP (=Canto Series) 1976.
- Peter Winch, The Idea of a Social Science, 4.Aufl. London 1965, ch. II.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be a mixture of lecture and seminar. For getting credit points, essays on given or freely chosen subjects have to be written.
401-1010-00LThe Foundations of Analysis from a Philosophical and Historical Point of View Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
Number of participants limited to 30

Particularly suitable for students of D-MATH
W3 credits2SL. Halbeisen
AbstractAccompanying the courses in analysis, the beginning and development of analysis will be considered and discussed from a philosophical perspective. In particular, different approaches towards dealing with the problems sparked off by the infinitesimals will be studied. And finally, a short presentation of non-standard analysis will be given.
ObjectiveThis course aims at enabling the students to have a critical look at the basic philosophical premisses underlying analysis, to analyze them and to reflect on them.
NB. This course is part of the rectorate's critical thinking initiative.
851-0165-00LQuestions Concerning the Philosophy of Mathematics, Theoretical Physics and Computer Science Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SG. Sommaruga, S. Wolf
AbstractThis seminar tackles questions of the philosophy of mathematics, of theoretical physics ad computer science which are rather non-standard such as: Are proofs really constitutive of mathematics? Why are applications of mathematics (to nature but also to mathematics itself) so fascinating and so hard to understand? etc.
ObjectiveThe objective is not so much to get acquainted with basic concepts and theories in the philosophy of mathematics, of theoretical physics and computer science, but to reflect in a methodical way about what lies at the origin of these philosophies. Students should learn to articulate questions arising during their studies and to pursue them in a more systematic way.
ContentThis seminar tackles questions of the philosophy of mathematics, of theoretical physics ad computer science which are rather non-standard such as: Are proofs really constitutive of mathematics? Why are applications of mathematics (to nature but also to mathematics itself) so fascinating and so hard to understand? Why do certain physical theories, e.g. quantum mechanics, need an "interpretation" whereas others don't? Is computer science part of discrete mathematics or a natural science? etc.
851-0179-00LEthical Issues in Animal Research Restricted registration - show details W2 credits2GG. Achermann, A. K. Alitalo
AbstractStudents are able to identify, describe and evaluate moral concepts, principles and leading normative approaches in animal ethics, to use these theoretical resources for constructing their own more well-grounded and reasoned positions for or against the use of animals in research and for critically assessing other people’s moral arguments in contemporary debates on animal experimentation.
ObjectiveStudents are able to identify, describe and evaluate moral concepts, principles and leading normative approaches in animal ethics, to use these theoretical resources for constructing their own more well-grounded and reasoned positions for or against the use of animals in research and for critically assessing other people’s moral arguments in contemporary debates on animal experimentation.
ContentI. An introduction into moral reasoning
1. Ethics – the basics: 1.1 What ethics is not… 1.2 Recognising an ethical issue (awareness) 1.3 What is ethics? 1.4 Ethics: a classification
2. Normative Ethics: 2.1 What is normative ethics? 2.2 Three different ways of thinking about ethics: virtue theories, duty-based theories, consequentialist theories
3. Arguments: 3.1 Why arguments? 3.2 The structure of moral arguments 3.3 Two types of arguments 3.4 Assessing moral arguments 3.5 Flaws in arguments/logical fallacies 3.6 The difference between debate and dialogue

II. Bringing moral theory to bear on animal research
1. What is moral status? 1.1 The concept of moral status; 1.2 Moral considerability – criteria for moral status: a) moral individualism (sentience, consciousness), b) moral relationalism; 1.3 Moral significance – three general views: a) the clear line view, b) the moral sliding scale, c) moral equals view; 1.4 Full moral status – the concept of personhood
2. Ethical perspectives on the moral status of animals (moral individualism): 2.1 Indirect theories: Worldviews/theological theories, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Peter Carruthers; arguments against indirect theories: the argument from species overlap; 2.2 Direct but unequal theories: Carl Cohen, Raymund G. Frey, The concept of dignity; 2.3 Moral equality theories: Peter Singer, Tom Regan
3. Alternatives perspectives on human relations to other animals (moral relationalism): 3.1 Steven Cooke; 3.2 Garret Merriam; 3.3 Nicola Biller-Andorno
4. Conclusions

III. Ethical issues in animal biotechnology
1. Intrinsic concerns
2. Extrinsic concerns

IV. Implications for practice
1. Implications for policy making: 1.1 Normative theories and the political debate 1.2 Regulation in the context of moral disagreement, The overlapping consensus 1.3 The continuing debate…
2. Animal experiments in practice: 2.1 What is an animal experiment? 2.2 Fundamental responsibilities of researchers 2.3 Importance of scientific rigor and scientific validity; The 3R’s; 2.4 The weighing of interests
3. Focus: Experiments on mice
4. Focus: Experiments using non-human primates: Examples of ETH Zurich and University of Zurich; A real case revisited;
5. Focus: Experiments on farmed animals
851-0198-00LPhilosophy of Psychiatry Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
W3 credits2V
AbstractPsychiatry is one of the most controversial areas of medicine because it is concerned with beliefs, moods, relationships, and behaviors. This course offers an overview of some representative topics in philosophy of psychiatry.
ObjectiveThe objective of this course is to offer historical context and philosophical reflection on mental disorders and psychiatric practices.
ContentPsychiatry is one of the most controversial areas of medicine. All medicine involves some negotiation about assumptions and values, at the professional-patient and societal levels. For example, its clinical categories are imposed on the subject, who is interpreted according to a given physiological (but also political and economical) framework. However, because psychiatry is primarily concerned with beliefs, moods, relationships, and behaviors, this negotiation actually constitutes the bulk of its clinical endeavors. This course offers an overview of some representative topics in philosophy of psychiatry. Some of these are the character of mental disorders, the takeover of the mind by the medical model, the demarcation of normal and abnormal behavior, the influence of culture in the understanding of mental disorders, a critical understanding of the DSM and its evolution, and the interplay between psychiatry and legal responsibility.
851-0097-00LWhat Is Knowledge and Under What Conditions Are We Entitled to Claim Knowledge?W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractThe seminar aims at a clarification of the concept of knowledge, as it is built in our experiential relations to the world. An analysis is needed of the difference between knowledge and belief, of the relation between objectivity and knowledge, and of the role of reasons for having knowledge. Additionally, the legitimacy of different types of knowledge claims should be evaluated.
ObjectiveOn will able to evaluate the arguments pro and con the thesis, that knowledge is justified, true belief. Furthermore, one will gain some insights in the role of reasons for knowledge and in the merits and misgivings of a naturalistic account of knowledge. Finally, one will be a bit more familiar with some theories of philosophical epistemology (e.g. empiricism, rationalism).
851-0166-00LCertainty and Doubt in Science and PhilosophyW3 credits2VM. Hampe
AbstractModern science is a sceptical enterprise. Experiments and peer review are practices that test claims for knowledge. Certainty is a rather alien goal for enlightened science. Some of these practices have roots in philosophy. But in Philosophy the existential relevance of doubt is seen in new light in the last 10 years or so.
ObjectiveGet an overveiw about sceptical practices and practices to produce truths in science and philosophy. Learn about the relevance of claims for knowledge and certainty for individual and collective life.
ContentModern science is a sceptical enterprise. Experiments and peer review are practices that test claims for knowledge. Some of these practices have roots in philosophy. But in Philosophy the existential relevance of doubt is seen in new light in the last 10 years or so.
851-0167-00LWays of Worldmaking Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SM. Hampe
AbstractWe study Nelson Goodman´s "Ways of Worldmaking" from 1978 and glance at other works relevant for his project like Wittgenstein´s "Tractatus" and Carnaps "Logischer Aufbau der Welt".
ObjectiveUnderstanding modern rational perspectivism.
ContentWe study Nelson Goodman´s "Ways of Worldmaking" from 1978 and glance at other works relevant for his project like Wittgenstein´s "Tractatus" and Carnaps "Logischer Aufbau der Welt”. In the books by Goodman and Wittgenstein the relation between the natural sciences, philosophy and art is discussed. Goodman claims that both the sciences and the arts have the power to make worlds. We will try to find out, how plausible this suggestion is.
851-0197-00LMedieval and Early Modern Science and PhilosophyW3 credits2VE. Sammarchi
AbstractThe course analyses the evolution of the relation between science and philosophy during the Middle Age and the Early Modern Period.
ObjectiveThe course aims are:
- to introduce students to the philosophical dimension of science;
- to develop a critical understanding of scientific notions;
- to acquire skills in order to read and comment scientific texts written in the past ages.
ContentThe course is focused on the investigation of scientific thought between 1000 and 1700, that is to say the period that saw the flourishing of natural philosophy and the birth of the modern scientific method. Several case-studies, taken from different scientific fields (especially algebra, astronomy, and physics) are presented in class in order to examine the relation between science and philosophy and the shift from medieval times to the early modern world.
851-0282-00LOn ClosureW3 credits2SC. Jany
AbstractAll beginnings are difficult, the saying goes. But it is perhaps still more difficult to find an ending under the endless conditions of modernity. Not long ago, the stories of literature defined the closure of actions, while philosophical systems provided the certain rules for sensible conclusions and ends, not to mention religious myths and revelations. What remains of such knowledge today?
ObjectiveReading theoretical and above all literary texts, we will first gather typical concepts, strategies, and representations of how things come to an end. We will then scrutinize this arsenal of "meaningful" ends and endings considering the conditions of modern life. To what extend does this older knowledge of endings live on as concerns both one's own biography and the aims and ends of science.
ContentDie Untersuchung von philosophischen und insbes. literarischen Schlüssen verspricht Einsichten in die allgemeinen Bauformen von Geschichten, Gedankengängen oder ganz allgemein Handlungen. Sie berührt also drei Grundvollzüge der menschlichen Kultur: das Erzählen, das Denken, das praktische Handeln. Auch die Naturwissenschaft und Technik sind auf diese kulturellen Grundvollzüge bezogen und bringen sie zur Anwendung. Insofern lädt das Seminar nicht zuletzt dazu ein, über den Wert und die Funktion von Zwecken, Schlüssen und Enden für das technisch-naturwissenschaftliche Wissen nachzudenken.
052-0518-21LTheory and Practice: Special Turn and Immaterial Space Joseph Beuys versus René Descartes Information W2 credits2GC. Posthofen, A. Brandlhuber
AbstractBoth the rationalism of "radical doubt" in Rene´ Descartes and the "understanding" in Beuys' sense of "standing somewhere else" have philosophical-aesthetic roots and spatial-theoretical and spatial-practical consequences. In dealing with this, the students work on their own position on spatial theory, whereby material and immaterial spatial aspects play a role.
ObjectiveThe students gain insight into the spectrum of epistemological and perceptual theories, learn to read them and analyze and critique their respective requirements. From this work an object relationship model is developing in progress, which serves self-examination in the design process as well as the evaluation of architectural situations in general and in particular. The writing of "scientific diaries" in which the contents of the colloquium are combined with the everyday experience of the students in free form, trains the concentrated result-oriented thinking in general, as well as in architectural situations. The special form of the writing of the "cientific diary" leads abstract theory together with the experience of the students and make the knowledge cratively available in their own way.
ContentSpecial turn and immaterial space. Joseph Beuys “how I explain art to the dead rabbit” versus Rene ‘Descartes“ I think therefore I am ”. Reflections and exercises on the aesthetics of the room.

Both the rationalism of "radical doubt" in Rene 'Descartes, as
also about "understanding" in the Beuysian sense of "standing somewhere else" have philosophical-aesthetic roots and spatial theory and practical consequences. In dispute a.o. with these opposing positions, the seminar participants worked on one own spatial theory position. Both material and intangible spatial aspects play a role.
Lecture notesHand out at the first meeting.
LiteratureRene’Descartes, Meditations, Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 2009; Volker Harland, What is Art? Workshop talk with Beuys, Urachhaus Verlag,
Stuttgart 2001; Harlan, Rappmann, Schata, Soziale Plastik - Material zu Joseph Beuys, Achberger Verlag, Achberg 1984.
851-0349-00LAdvanced Course in Philosophy of Religion: Hilary Putnam’s Philosophy of Religion in Context (UZH)
No enrolment to this course at ETH Zurich. Book the corresponding module directly at UZH.
UZH Module Code: 23LM020

Mind the enrolment deadlines at UZH:
https://www.uzh.ch/cmsssl/en/studies/application/deadlines.html
W3 credits2VUniversity lecturers
AbstractDo religious forms of life and religious statements refer to a reality distinct from the religious language game? Or is it the case that such reference is only an illusive expression of the self-understanding of religious believers – and thus something philosophical reflection should aim to dispel?
ObjectiveAnd how are the ontological commitments of religious language games related to perceptions and concepts of reality operative in the sciences? The Advanced Course in Philosophy of Religion will take the thinking of Hilary Putnam as an example to address these questions. In order to do so, Putnam’s philosophy of religion will be situated in its (post)analytic and pragmatic context.
851-0350-00LDo We Have a Free Will? Neuroscientific, Philosophical and Theological Perspectives (UZH)
No enrolment to this course at ETH Zurich. Book the corresponding module directly at UZH.
UZH Module Code: 23SS007

Mind the enrolment deadlines at UZH:
https://www.uzh.ch/cmsssl/en/studies/application/deadlines.html
W3 credits2SUniversity lecturers
AbstractThe question of human free will is one of the big and much debated topics in anthropological thought past and present.
ObjectiveSome neuroscientists, for example, see human free will as an illusion, as all human action is, in their view, determined by neuronal events in the human brain. In a very different key, the question of human free will is debated in theological reflection. Martin Luther, for example, in his debate with Erasmus of Rotterdam denied a freedom of the human will as far as salvation is concerned. Another classical theological problem is how to situate human free will within the doctrine of divine providence: If God is omniscient and foresees everything, how can human beings be really free in their decisions? The course will first examine the controversial philosophical discussions provoked by neuroscientific interpretation of human free will. In a second step, the course will analyze exemplary classical and contemporary points of discussion in theological interpretation of the freedom of the will. Conceptual clarifications will, finally, allow to bring aspects of both fields of discussion into a fruitful dialogue.
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