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, Elay Shech, has an article forthcoming in Synthese, entitled "Scientific misrepresentation and guides to ontology: the need for representational code and contents”.
  • Congratulations to Julia Bursten, who has been awarded the 2014 HPS Teaching Excellence Award! A special mention goes to Julia's introduction of a student podcast project, which can be accessed here.
  • Prof. Edouard Machery and Prof. Genoveva Martí debate about theories of reference on PhilosTV.
  • Graduate student Elay Shech’s review of Chunglin Kwa's Styles of Knowing: A New History of Science from Ancient Times to Present has just been published in HOPOS, The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
  • Graduate students Elizabeth O’Neill and Aleta Quinn have both been awarded the Provost Development Fund Pre-doctoral Fellowship. This award is funded by the University of Pittsburgh Office of the Provost to support PhD thesis research.
  • Congratulations to graduate student David Colaço for his paper in Episteme!
  • Graduate students Bihui Li and Greg Gandenberger have both been awarded a Josephine de Karman Fellowship for 2014-2015. The Josephine De Karman Fellowship Trust was established in 1954 by the renowned aeronautics expert Dr. Theodore Von Karman. The purpose of this Fellowship program is to recognize and assist students whose research projects reflect Dr. Von Karman’s high standards for scholarly achievement.
  • Congratulations to HPS majors who have been awarded scholarships to support their graduate studies. Simon Brown has been awarded a Beinecke Scholarship and plans to study for a PhD in history following his graduation in history, philosophy and HPS. David Palm has been awarded a Churchill Scholarship and will study for a Masters in chemistry at the University of Cambridge following his graduation in chemistry, chemical engineering and HPS.
  • On June 10th HPS chair Sandra Mitchell will be presenting a lecture at the Royal Institution on "Unsimple truths: How biological complexity changes our view of nature and science." See here for more information.