The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

When Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientifc Revolutions appeared in 1962, it offered a radically new perspective on the history of science. It challenged the prevailing view that science develops by “accumulation” and argued instead that the history of science is marked by revolutionary “paradigm shifts.” In this seminar we will read selections from Kuhn’s seminal book and related readings, meeting to discuss its implications for the practice of science and the evolution of scientific knowledge. The readings will develop a model for scientific revolutions from historical developments in the physical sciences, which are relevant to on-going revolutions within a variety of scientific disciplines, including geology, cosmology, genetics, and neuroscience. Together, we will examine the stages in the “life” of scientific ideas alongside a brief history of the scientists who shaped them. We will also discuss what, if anything, makes scientific inquiry distinct from other methods of knowing. For a free copy of the book or to receive more information, please contact

Dates: Monday evenings on 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24

Time: 5:30-7:00pm

Reading Schedule:

Week 1: Kuhn chapter 1 and Karl Popper Logic of Scientific Discovery, sections 1.2, 1.3, 1.8.
Week 2: Kuhn chapters 2, 3, 10.
Week 3: Kuhn chapters 6, 8, 12
Week 4: Kuhn chapter 4 and Thomas Kuhn, “The Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?”


Understanding Ritual

Lara Buchak
Associate Professor of Philosophy; Senior Fellow, Berkeley Institute

Understanding Ritual

Whether we are religious or secular, our lives are structured by rituals. Religious believers often participate in liturgies, but our culture is filled with other “liturgies” as well. This seminar will ask what a “ritual” is and what purposes ritual serves. We will examine this issue by looking at specific examples. What is the point of prayer, and what does one need to believe or do for it to be effective? Must a religious service take a specific form? Do spiritual practices need to be tied to a religion, or can secular analogues serve the same purpose? Students will be invited to discuss their own experiences about daily habits and “rituals” that form human character. For more information, please contact

Dates: Tuesdays on 2/25, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM

Discussion and Reading Schedule:

2/25: Ritual and Know-How: How does participating in rituals help us know God?
Reading: Terrence Cuneo, “Ritual Knowledge”

3/3: Prayer and Imagination: What is prayer and what do you need to
believe in order for it to be effective? Reading: Amber Griffioen, “Are You There, God?  It’s Me, the Theist”

3/10: Dietary Practices and Hope: What mindset do you need to have
when engaging in religious or secular dietary practices? Reading: Andrew Chignell, “Religious Dietary Practices and Secular Food Ethics” *CANCELED*

3/17: Spirituality and Religion: Can you engage in spiritual practices apart from a religious tradition? Reading: Jeremiah Carey, “Spiritual, but not Religious?”   

Location: 2134 Allston Way

**This seminar is free and open to all Cal, GTU, and St. Mary’s students**

Visions of Justice

Steven Hayward
Visiting Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy

Visions of Justice:

From Conservatism to Postmodernism

Justice today typically comes in hyphenated forms. There’s social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, and even spacial justice. Many of these views offer a powerful critique of the classical idea that justice is grounded in human reason. This seminar will introduce students to some popular views of justice and their contemporary importance. First we will examine two leading conservative thinkers and then conclude by looking at some influential liberal and postmodern critics. Pizza will be served.

Dates: Tuesdays on 10/15, 10/22, 10/29, and 11/5

Time: 5:30 – 7:00pm

Seminar Schedule:

10/15: Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty” ; “Political Judgement” (optional)
10/22: Freidrich von Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society“; “Social Justice” (optional); and “Social Justice Notes” (optional)
10/29: Michael Oakeshott, “On Being Conservative“; “Rationalism in Politics” (optional)
11/5:  Richard Rorty, “Relativism” and “Truth without Correspondence to Reality.”

Location: 2134 Allston Way

**This seminar is free and open to all UC Berkeley, GTU, and St. Mary’s students.

Understanding Architecture

Anselm Ramelow
Professor of Philosophy; Senior Fellow, Berkeley Institute

Understanding Architecture

Architecture shapes our lives and forms our imaginations in ways we often do not fully appreciate. Places of work, learning, worship, and living do more than provide space for our activities. They deeply impact they way we understand and undertake them. This seminar will introduce students to some basic ideas about the nature of architecture and the judgements we make about it. It will pay particular attention to the way that architecture can be said to “imitate” (or fail to imitate) nature. This seminar consists of lectures, illustrated by slides. There is no reading. Pizza will be served.

Dates: Wednesdays on 10/30, 11/6, 11/13
Time: 5:30-7:00pm

Location:  2134 Allston Way

**This seminar is free and open to all Cal, GTU, and St. Mary’s students.

How to Be Christian In College

How to Be Christian In College

A lot of people think it should be hard to be a Christian and a college student. Is it? Should it be? And in any case, how can you do both well? Berkeley professors Lara Buchak and Steven Justice will offer both intellectual and practical perspectives on Christians’ relationships with ideas and arguments, with professors and peers, with churches and pastors, and with the choices they face in their own lives. No readings; just come ready to discuss. All undergraduates are welcome.

Dates: Thursday evenings on 8.31, 9.7, 9.14, 9.21, 9.28, 10.5.

Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.

Class Schedule:

8.31: Being a Christian in relation to ideas
9.7: …in relation to professors
9.14: …in relation to other Christians
9.21: …in relation to family or pastors
9.28: …in relation to moral choices
10.5: …in relation to larger values and goals

Location: 2134 Allston Way

Seminar webpage.