Sex And Death - Syllabus
_This syllabus is subject to change to suit the needs of the class._ Modified 28/4/2009 (just changed a reading).
Please let me know if there are any topics in the textbook but not listed here which you'd like to cover.
This course asks what we know about biology at a general, conceptual level. It looks particularly at evolutionary biology and genetics, and related topics in philosophy of science, history of science and sociology of science.

Lectures

Tuesday 24 February
Introduction: evolution, genetics and maybe some philosophy
PART 1: ORGANISMS
Thursday 26 February
The diversity of life
Tuesday 3 March
Extremophiles
Astrobiology
assignment 1 handed out
PART 2: SOME BASIC BIOLOGY
Thursday 5 March
recap on the diversity of life
Biodiversity
Tuesday 10 March
Reproduction
Local Optima
assignment 1 due in
PART 3: SPECIES
Thursday 12 March
Tokens, types and supertypes
Genetic constraints on adaptation

Tuesday 17 March
recap of theories of truth
Cumulative adaptation
assignment 2 handed out
Thursday 19 March
no lecture
Tuesday 24 March
Truth and Realism 1
assignment 2 due in
Thursday 26 March
Truth and Realism 2
Tuesday 31 March
Are species real?
assignment 3 handed out
Thursday 2 April
no lecture
Tuesday 7 April
Species continued
Environment and inheritance
assignment 3 due in
PART 4: THE RECEIVED VIEW OF EVOLUTION
Thursday 9 April
Environment and inheritance continued
Causation in biology
assignment 4 handed out
Friday 10 April — Monday 27 April inclusive
Easter teaching break (no tutorials)
Tuesday 28 April
Life before Darwin
Darwin
Natural selection
assignment 4 due in
main essay topics handed out
Thursday 30 April
no lecture
PART 5: THE GENE'S EYE VIEW OF EVOLUTION
Tuesday 5 May
Units of selection
Replicators and interactors
The selfish gene
Thursday 7 May
The active germ-line replicator (reading by Richard Dawkins)
PART 6: THE ORGANISM STRIKES BACK
Tuesday 12 May
Philosophers' introduction to the history of genetics
Are genes real?
Thursday 14 May
Are genes active germ line replicators?
Evolutionary vs molecular genes
Tuesday 19 May
Are genes difference makers?
Thursday 21 May
The developmental systems theory

PART 7: ORGANISMS, GROUPS, AND SUPERORGANISMS
(subject to time — we may be catching up with other topics at this point)
Tuesday 26 May
Interactors
Altruism
Group selection
Thursday 28 May
no lecture
main essay due in
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