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

  • Edouard Machery has been promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor and has been named Director of the Center for Philosophy of Science.
  • Porter Williams has joined the department as an Assistant Professor. Porter specializes in the history and philosophy of physics.
  • Join us for the First of this year's HPS Lecture Series on Sept.30. Jack Justus from Florida State will speak on Biological Information as Game-Theoretic Information.
    3:30 PM in 817R Cathedral of Learning, Reception Following.
  • Watch Mazviita Chirimuuta’s interview from the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario.
  • Edouard Machery has been appointed to the Lectures, Publications, and Research Committee of the American Philosophical Association.
  • Edouard Machery has been elected to the Governing Board of the Philosophy of Science Association. Congratulations!
  • Lauren Ross, 2016 HPS PhD graduate, was the Graduate Speaker at the University of Pittsburgh’s Commencement Ceremony in May 2106. Watch the following links for her introduction and address:
  • Congratulations to Joe McCaffrey for successfully defending his dissertation, “Mental function and cerebral cartography: Functional localization in fMRI research.” Joe will be a post doc fellow at Washington University in St Louis for the next three years.
  • Outside Color by Mazviita Chirimuuta is reviewed by Wayne Wright in the journal Philosophy of Science.
  • The anthology Arguing About Human Nature(Routledge), co-edited by Edouard Machery, is now available in paberback.
  • Congratulations to Jim Woodward! Jim has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A well-deserved honor. Read about it here.
  • Edouard Machery reflects on implicit and explicit attitudes on Brains.
  • Alumni Lecture Celebration, April 2016 . Congratulations to Dr. Wendy Parker for her lecture.