Philosophy of Astrobiology

Course Description

(This course is not typically offered in most universities. When it is, it is usually an astronomy, biochemistry, or geology course. But it is a huge draw to students whenever it is offered. I would like to bring it to philosophy departments as well.)
This seminar for upper-division students covers the origin, evolution, and nature of life in our universe. In this course, students will learn to understand, analyze, and synthesize interdisciplinary approaches to the study of life everywhere. Since this is a truly multi-disciplinary course, it is highly recommended for each student to have familiarity in either astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, or philosophy. We cover many major issues in astrobiology. Topics will include: How did life arise? Is anything in biology expected to be universal? What are life’s limitations? How would we recognize novel life if we found it? How do we find other planets? What are the prospects for life (including intelligent life) leaving a planet and colonizing space?