HPM is "an explosion of ideas!" - Dr. Peter Distelzweig

April 2, 2018
Peter Distelzweig Head shot

Dr. Peter Distelzweig is the director of the Science, Medicine, and Society minor and an assistant professor in the department of philosophy. He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, an MS in Physics Education from Eastern Michigan University, and an MA and PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh. His research and writing interests center on the interactions between philosophy and the sciences--not just today, but especially historically.

"I am particularly interested in the so-called Scientific Revolution," Dr. Distelzweig says. "This is the period from roughly 1500-1700, understood as the time during which modern science took on much of its characteristic shape as an institutionally distinct, empirical undertaking to describe and explain the natural world with predictive specificity. Think of people like Nicholas Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, William Harvey, René Descartes, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton."

Dr. Distelzweig teaches History and Philosophy of Medicine (PHIL 241) a foundational course in the SMDS minor. In this course students pursue a critical and creative perspective on medicine as a human enterprise through philosophical exploration of its history, foundations, and purpose(s).

“In HPM we examine important episodes and developments in the history of medicine in order to better understand the contingencies and nuances shaping medicine even today,” he explains. “Students also work to unearth the presuppositions and tacit assumptions implicit in medicine today. The history leads us to really important questions about the foundations, structures and goals of medicine and invites philosophical analyses of and arguments about the nature of medical knowledge, health, disease and health care.”

Dr. Distelzwieg calls HPM an "explosion of ideas” and hopes students in it encounter and begin to appreciate a wide range of new ideas and perspectives and approaches. 

“I also encourage students to really grab hold of and run with a few of these perspectives. I want them to really start digging in and thinking on their own!”

Dr. Distelzweig also teaches Philosophy of Science (PHIL 385) which serves as an SMDS elective.