University of Pittsburgh

About Us

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science supports both a graduate and undergraduate program of study of science, its nature and fundamentals, its origins, and its place in modern politics, culture, and society. In the history of science, traditional and non-traditional historical methods are used to develop an understanding of how the sciences originated, how they were practiced, how they developed, and how they related to their intellectual and social contexts. These include archival research, textual analysis, and re-enactment of experiments. In philosophy of science, the sciences themselves are brought under philosophical scrutiny. We investigate the nature of science in general; what distinguishes scientific activity; how theories explain; how they are confirmed; whether they should be read literally; and the moral dilemmas raised by the sciences. We also investigate the fundamental content of individual sciences and how it bears on the ancient philosophical questions: what is the nature of space, time, and matter; what is life; and what is thought? History and philosophy of science is distinctive in integrating these two areas of study, with investigations in each area often closely interwoven.

Read about the origins of HPS at Pitt.

News & Events

  • Tawrin Baker will be joining HPS as the Mellon Postdoc in the History of Science for 2015-2016. His PhD is from Indiana University and he will be working on his book project on optics, anatomy and theories of colour in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the Spring he will be teaching a graduate seminar on his research, provisionally titled, "Chiasmata: Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Physicians, Philosophers, and Mathematicians on Vision, Color, and the Eye." Welcome, Tawrin!
  • Elizabeth O'Neill and Edouard Machery's collection Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy is reviewed by Yuri Cath in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Cath writes: "This is a very good collection. If you're at all interested in experimental philosophy you will want to get your hands on a copy." The volume is available now in all good (and bad) bookshops.
  • Sandy Mitchell and Jim Woodward are interviewed in the latest issue of The Reasoner.
  • A special issue on the Philosophy and Science of Colour Perception has just been published by the journal Minds and Machines. Edited by Mazviita Chirimuuta, it features articles by Berit Brogaard, Jonathan Cohen, Derek Brown, Keith Allen and Fred Kingdom.
  • Mazviita Chirimuuta discusses her research on colour in an article and an interview with Nautilus science magazine.
  • Aleta Quinn has successfully defended her thesis, "Biological Systematics and Evolutionary Theory", and will start a postdoc at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study in the fall. Many congratulations!
  • Edouard Machery’s talk on implicit attitudes can now be watched on youtube.
  • Congratulations to Trey Boone for his forthcoming article in Synthese: The Cognitive Science Revolution.
  • Congratulations to Michael Miller who has won the Robert K. Clifton Memorial Book Prize for his paper "The Underdetermination of Field Theoretic Structure." The award is given to the best paper in the Philosophy of Physics at the Philosophy of Logic, Math and Physics Conference at Western University.
  • In honor of Dementia Awareness Week, Joe McCaffrey discusses his recent article on semantic dementia and concept empiricism for the Imperfect Cognitions blog. Read more about Joe’s research at his new website.