It being Darwin’s 200th birthday this week, I wonder – do people cover the evolution ‘controversy’ when teaching undergrad phil sci? I have found that students tend to be pretty interested. So far I have never experienced any heated religion-based bother, and pro-evolution students are usually glad to gain ammunition. (I make sure that I stay ostentatiously neutral regarding religious and political issues more generally.) Perhaps my positive experience is not typical, I don’t know. My class is largely non-philosophy majors in St Louis.
The topic’s also an excellent illustration of how philosophy of science can add something over and above science itself – something that’s not always obvious to science majors.
Maybe much depends on exactly how it is taught. I’ve never just shown a video, such as the (decent) PBS one about the recent Dover trial. Rather, I teach it as a natural follow-on from earlier stuff in the course about testing and auxiliary assumptions. Briefly – I roughly follow the presentation in Elliott Sober’s phil bio textbook, emphasizing that intelligent design arguments require auxiliary assumptions about the nature of any designer in order to be testable. Of course, such assumptions about a designer are themselves hard to test, as Hume noted long ago. And a default assumption of an optimal designer runs afoul of actual organisms’ many imperfections. I.e. intelligent design is either untestable or falsified. Obviously, this contrasts with the situation with science.
I also like to add a straight science class on the wide range of evidence for evolution because I’ve found that usually only a few students, even biology majors, are aware of more than a small portion of it.
No doubt there are other ways of proceeding, and I’d certainly be interested to hear about those that seem to work well. But my point is more that I’ve found the experience surprisingly satisfying rather than depressing, and far from a creationist Trojan-horse ‘teach the controversy’ exercise. Accordingly, given the state of public debate in parts of the US at least, perhaps we all ought to be teaching this?