I built a musical instrument to demonstrate Plato's theory that the heavenly spheres form harmonic ratios, using the intervals described in the Timaeus.


Myth & Science

Spring 2018, University of Idaho

Fall 2013, University of Pittsburgh


Course objectives:

  1. Investigate the difference between science, non-science, and pseudoscience.
  2. Compare scientific explanation with mythical explanation.
  3. Describe the history of early Greek and Islamic science.
  4. Learn to engage with primary source historical texts with a historically appropriate mindset.


The course covered the Enuma Elish, Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, late Antiquity, and early Islamic science, in addition to examples of pseudoscience and origin myths from a variety of cultures. 







al-Haytham combined the geometrical advantages of the extramission theory of light with the anatomical avdantages of the intromission theory.


Slide explaining a puzzle about species in a study by colleague Andy Gottscho (NMNH).


Philosophy & Biology

Spring 2018, University of Idaho

Spring 2017, Caltech


Course objectives:

  1. Critically examine core topics in philosophy of biology

  2. Develop philosophical skill to analyze concepts and arguments relating to biological research

  3. Develop critical writing and presentation skills

Linking phylogenetic diversity (a formalized measure of biodiversity) to arguments about option value as a conservation goal.


Caltech students caught two of the three color morphs of Uta lizard males, and one of two female color morphs.


Environmental Ethics

Fall 2018, University of Idaho [online]

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, University of Idaho

Fall 2016, Caltech


Should we clone mammoths back to life? Is it wrong to cause an extinction, and if so, why? Are some species more valuable than others? In this course, students will become familiar with basic topics in meta-ethics and normative ethics through focus on the subject matter of environmental ethics. An overarching question is the relationship between environmental ethics and traditional philosophical ethics: is there an easy fit, or does environmental ethics represent an extension or challenge to traditional ethics?


Class includes field trips to the WSU grizzly facility, the Lower Granite Dam, the Moscow Wastewater Treatment Plant, and UI's new Arboretum; guest lecturer from the UI Confucius Institute; and a Skype session with Harry W. Greene (Cornell) on Pleistocene rewilding.

Taylor Hains (Columbia, AMNH) explains the illegal wildlife trade in a video prepared for my class.

Harry W. Greene, rewilding proponent.

Science and Values

Fall 2017, University of Idaho

Directed reading seminar, Spring 2017, Caltech


In what sense is science "objective"? Do social values play a role in scientific inference? This course covers arguments about how values do (and perhaps should) affect scientific inference, and how these arguments fit with scientific objectivity.


Reading guide prepared for Amy Gutmann's arguments for a single-tier healthcare system.


Biomedical Ethics

Spring 2017, Caltech

Spring 2014, University of Pittsburgh

Spring 2012, University of Pittsburgh

TA for Kenneth Schaffner Fall 2008, University of Pittsburgh


Course Objectives: 

  1. Critically examine core topics in biomedical ethics

  2. Develop philosophical skill to analyze concepts and arguments

  3. Gain familiarity with the structure and purpose of philosophical ethics

  4. Develop critical writing and presentation skills


Course has included a Skype session with social worker who participates in involuntary commitment of mentally ill persons; guest lecture by philosopher of nanoscience on nanoethics; and presentations by students with experience working with alcoholics awaiting liver transplants, patients at mental health clinics, and biomedical researchers.


Julia Bursten (Kentucky) joined the class to discuss the emerging field of nanoethics.


Pedagogical workshop presenter

Getting Started in the ClassroomUniversity of Pittsburgh New Teaching Assistant Orientation, August 2014.


Testing and Grading in the Humanities & Social SciencesUniversity of Pittsburgh New Teaching Assistant Orientation, August 2014.


Cheating & Plagiarism, University of Pittsburgh New Teaching Assistant Orientation, August 2013, January 2014, August 2014.


Dealing with Difficult Situations, University of Pittsburgh New Teaching Assistant Orientation, January 2014.

Workshop participant

Teaching with Transparency: Empowering Equitable Learning, Caltech Teaching Week, January 2017.


Innovating Assessments in Large Classes, Notre Dame Digital Week, September 2015.


Teaching Conference, American Association of Philosophy Teachers, January 2015.

Teaching Assistant

Explanations of Humans & Society, Peter Machamer, Fall 2011. History & philosophy of psychology and social theorizing.


Mind & Medicine, Peter Machamer, Fall 2008. Aspects of the mind-body problem as they affect medical practice.

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© Aleta Quinn