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Zerella, Michael Instructor

Positions

Research Areas research areas

Research

research overview

  • Michael Zerella's research has focused on the conceptual basis of evolutionary theory and biological mechanisms. He has argued that large parts of the conceptual basis for evolutionary theory that was formed during the early to mid-20th century is inadequate for proper understanding and description of how adaptive evolution by natural selection really works. He also works to introduce biology teachers to philosophy of biology so that they may use it to deepen classroom discussions and enhance student understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of science in general and of biology in particular.

keywords

  • philosophy of biology, laws of nature, biological mechanisms, natural selection, teleology

Publications

Teaching

courses taught

  • PHIL 1000 - Introduction to Philosophy
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021
    Introduces students to the most fundamental questions of human existence, either topically or through various major figures in philosophy. Topics may include free will, the mind-body problem, the nature of the self, the existence of God, knowledge of the external world, the nature of morality, the meaning of life.
  • PHIL 1100 - Ethics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2021 / Fall 2021
    Introductory study of major philosophies on the nature of the good for humanity, principles of evaluation, and moral choice as they apply to contemporary moral problems.
  • PHIL 1200 - Contemporary Social Problems
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2020
    Examines competing positions in debates over a wide variety of controversial moral, social and political issues. Topics may include: abortion, world poverty, animal rights, immigration, physician-assisted suicide, freedom of religion, hate speech, cloning, income inequality, pornography, gun rights, racial profiling, capital punishment, overpopulation, prostitution, drug legalization, torture. Formerly titled 'Philosophy and Society.'
  • PHIL 1400 - Philosophy and the Sciences
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2021
    Considers philosophical topics and concepts related to the natural sciences, such as the following: science and pseudo-science; scientific method; the nature of explanation, theory, confirmation, and falsification; the effect of science on basic concepts like mind, freedom, time, and causality; ethics of experimentation; and the relation of science to society.
  • PHIL 1440 - Critical Thinking
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2020 / Summer 2021 / Fall 2021
    Develops students' skills in evaluating arguments and other aspects of critical thinking, focusing on the ways people reason and attempt to justify their beliefs. Activities may include modeling arguments, detecting common fallacies, examining the use (and misuse) of scientific evidence, and learning the basics of symbolic logic. Formerly titled Introductory Logic.
  • PHIL 3430 - History of Science: Newton to Einstein
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020
    Surveys the development of modern scientific thought, with an emphasis on the natural sciences, beginning with'Newton and ending with the radical and controversial implications of relativity theory and quantum mechanics.'Topics may include the rise of modern chemistry, Darwin's earth-shattering achievements in biology, the beginnings of the social sciences (and their relationship with the natural sciences), the rise of ecology and holistic science, and the philosophical interpretation of scientific method and explanation. Recommended prerequisite: 6 hours of philosophy coursework.

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