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

  • Graduate student Aleta Quinn has been awarded a Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellowship to complete research entitled "Theory and Methodology of Biological Classification before Darwin” this Summer, at the National Museum of Natural History.
  • Two of our graduate students received an Outstanding Presenter award at this year's Grad Expo 2014. The award comes with a $100 prize to reimburse expenses related to the purchase of research materials or travel. Congratulations to Elay Shech, “Representation in Science and Beyond”, and Gregory Gandenberger, “Why I Am Not a Methodological Likelihoodist”.
  • Sandy Mitchell will be presenting a lecture at the Royal Institution (founded in 1799, home of Humphrey Davy's and Michael Faraday's laboratories) on "Unsimple truths: How biological complexity changes our view of nature and science" on June 10, 2014. You can buy tickets here.
  • Edouard Machery has been interviewed for his work about our attitudes toward apes. See the video here.
  • Graduate student Elay Shech has an article on group teaching in the current edition of the Teaching Times.
  • Congratulations to our graduate students on the job market!
    Marcus Adams (AOS: Early Modern Philosophy) has been hired by the University at Albany, SUNY; Peter Distelzweig (AOS: Early Modern Philosophy) by University of St. Thomas, Minnesota; Yoichi Ishida (AOS: Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology) by Ohio University; and Tom Pashby (AOS: Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science) has won a Provost's Postdoctoral Scholarship in the Humanities at USC.