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 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.
  • The Wesley C. Salmon Memorial Lecture will take place Friday, April 8, 2016 at 3:30pm in 817R Cathedral of Learning.
    Christopher R. Hitchcock, J.O. and Juliette Koepfli Professor of Philosophy, California Institute of Technology will speak on "Causation for Philosophical Applications."
    Co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Department of History & Philosophy of Science, The Department of Philosophy and the Center for Philosophy of Science.
  • Congratulation to Goldwater honorable mention designee Ethan A. Garcia-Baker! Ethan is majoring in neuroscience as well as history and philosophy of science within the Dietrich School. Upon his anticipated graduation from Pitt in the spring of 2017, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree in computational biology and genomics.
  • Congratulations to Morgan Thompson for her new article: "Why Do Women Leave Philosophy? Surveying Students at the Introductory Level" in Philosophers' Imprint.
  • Congratulations to the HPS students on the job market: Aleta Quinn will be a Postdoctoral Instructor in Philosophy of Science at Caltech for two years, Joe McCaffrey a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St Louis, and Lauren Ross an Assistant Professor at the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at UC Irvine after a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary.
  • Mellon Distinguished Lecture Series in History of Science, Mechanism Historicized, to be given by Domenico Bertoloni Meli from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University.

    Lecture 1: "Mechanism and Visualization: Andreas Vesalius to Robert Hooke”, University Club Conference Room A 4 p.m., Monday March 14
    Lecture 2: “The Very Word Mechanism: a Lexical and Conceptual Investigation", Humanities Center, Rm 602 Cathedral of Learning, 4 p.m., Wednesday March 16
    Lecture 3: "Framing Mechanisms: Philosophical Perspectives and Investigative Practices”, Center for Philosophy of Science, Rm 817R Cathedral of Learning, 4 p.m., Thursday March 17
  • Annual Alumni Lecture Dr. Wendy Parker, Durham University, will deliver the Annual HPS Alumni Lecture, “Explaining the global warming “hiatus”: models, measurements and media”, on Thursday, March 24, 2106, at 5:00pm at the University Club – Conference Room A.
  • Outside Color: Perceptual Science and the Puzzle of Color in Philosophy.
    The workshop will run from 1:30 - 5:10 in CL 817, Friday, January 15.
  • Science 27 November 2015: Vol. 350 no. 6264 pp. 1047-1049 announced the election of Sandra D. Mitchell to the rank of AAAS Fellow whose "efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished."