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Is Philosophy a need in Biology?

  1. May 8, 2009 #1

    My first time on this forum found you when i was googling :biggrin: I wanted to know if i have to take Philosophy if i am studying Teaching Secondary Biology. I have to choice in this group to register for the next term of school here is a list

    Cinema Appreciation
    A survey of World Literature
    Jazz and Popular Music in America
    Introduction to Philosophy
    Theatre Appreciation

    So as you can see those are my options. I would like to take Jazz and Popular Music but is Philosophy something that i need to do to become a Biology Teacher

    OOps.. hehe.... i think this was supposed to go to Academic Guidance lol.....well i cant seem to delete this so hopefully someone can help me....
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2009 #2
    Take what you want. That's the purpose of distribution requirements... to get you to take classes that you wouldn't otherwise take because they have no immediate "practical" use in your intended career.

    Of course if you take philosophy now, after a difficult day teaching, you might be able to come up with a better answer to "Why am I doing this?"
  4. May 8, 2009 #3
    :rofl: Lol true.....thanks! :biggrin:
  5. May 16, 2009 #4


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    :rofl: I agree with your suggestion to take whatever sounds most enjoyable. There is no need for a philosophy course to be able to teach biology, so if that doesn't sound as interesting as one of the other choices, go with the one you think you'll enjoy most.
  6. May 16, 2009 #5


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    Philosophy is a natural outcome of human thinking. It actually relies on a person to think and most intelligent people can engage in philosophical thinking, both with and without the help of other people. Other members may clarify as they see fit.

    The best suggestion for you is, take what courses you believe are practical. WHOOPS! After looking at your list, none of those seem "practical"; so best suggestion is take whichever one you think you would like the best.
  7. May 19, 2009 #6


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    Definitely! Alchemy classes are a must for chemistry majors as astrology classes are compulsory for astrophysics students.
  8. May 19, 2009 #7
    that's a horrible analogy... you seem to be confusing philosophy with theology....


    if you're going to teach biology, then philosophy is definitely relevant: the mind/body problem, questioning what is knowledge, ethics/relativism/morality... these are all issues that a science teacher at any level should be versed in...
  9. May 19, 2009 #8


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    I disagree. Those things are all mumbo jumbo created by philosophers that only distract from the science. One need not take a philosophy course to develop an understanding of ethics either...in fact, the ethics course I took through a philosophy department was the biggest bunch of hooey completely out of touch with reality that I've ever had to be subjected to in my life. I think the course would have better fit under the title of abnormal psychology.
  10. May 19, 2009 #9


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    Moonbear might have run into philosophy teachers who are hooey but it is possible on the other hand he missed something.

    I always found that professional philosophers generally had some valuable insight to add concerning ethical issues.

    I would not put a rigid wall where you can say science ends philosophy begins and vice versa. The so called arguments against evolution, e.g. the 'not proven' ones are as much a philosophical mistake as a 'scientific' one - they are about e.g. what is a scientific meaning of proven (what is required for anything you can say is scientific - which you have to know what means!) Or if anyone says there is a 'gene for homosexuality' or greed or conservatism or liberalism, I think it needs both biological and philosophical grasp to criticise that category mistake.

    With the development of biology and its influence on our lives, say babies to order just for example, or predictive medicine etc. etc. is bioethics going to get less important or more?

    These are things students may be challenging teachers on. It is not educative to say only dissect your frog and do the exam and shut up!

    If you are going into teaching you are not going to close your books when you qualify and think you know enough, a good teacher will be in lifetime development both for strict technical aspects and wider ones. So I think it is good to have a start in that world of philosophy at this time.
    Last edited: May 20, 2009
  11. May 20, 2009 #10
    Why are people in this thread talking about Ethics? The sort of philosophy in question that the original poster might need in order to teach Biology is philosophy of science.

    Studying philosophy of science is indispensable to a scientist's education. I rarely ever meet scientists who are not at least somewhat familiar with Bacon, Hume, Popper, Kuhn and the like. Almost all the graduate students in my department have studied philosophy (I'm in a neuroscience department).

    I don't see how the original poster could expect to be a good high school science teacher without an understanding of the issues that are discussed in philosophy of science. High school science teachers should be teaching the scientific method. I don't see how you could do that effectively without philosophy.

    That said, I never had a high school science teacher that I would consider to be good by these standards...
  12. May 20, 2009 #11
    I tend to personally agree that a philosophy course might be useful to a bio teacher. Here in the "bible belt", bio teachers that I sometime do outreach with say they get plugged with the worst anti-evolution sentiments, etc. from students as well as parents. Now an intro to philosophy course might be a bit dull versus a more tailored philosophy of science course... but if you take the course thinking about these things, it might prepare you for some of those hard and sensitive questions later on (you could perhaps focus a class paper or two on such a topic). Not that you can't prepare for those questions on your own...

    I personally do always find the history interesting though... many philosophers you'd study in such a course were also scientists and mathematicians.
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