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

  • The work of Jim Lennox will be featured in the second annual Bay Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy taking place on March 6-7, 2015 at UC Berkeley. On Friday March 6, Lennox will present a lecture on Aristotle on the Design of Inquiry: Erotetic Frameworks and Domain-specific Norms. The lecture will be accompanied by a whole day workshop on Saturday March 7, in which selected passages pertinent to Lennox’ new work will be read and discussed.
  • HPS chair, Sandra Mitchell has just been elected President of the Philosophy of Science Association. She will serve as Vice-President and President-Elect until December 2016, and her two year term as President will run from January 2017 to December 2018. Mitchell will deliver the Presidential Address at PSA2018.
  • HPS graduate student Lauren Ross has an article appearing in the latest edition of Philosophy of Science: "Dynamical Models and Explanation in Neuroscience”.
  • HPS graduate student Elizabeth O’Neill has an article in the latest edition of Biology and Philosophy, "Relativizing innateness: innateness as the insensitivity of the appearance of a trait with respect to specified environmental variation.
  • Jesse Prinz and Edouard Machery have edited the 9th volume of the Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication on Perception and Concepts. Articles can be freely downloaded there: .
  • Edouard Machery has been appointed member of the APA Committee on International Cooperation by the the American Philosophical Association’s board of officers (term: 2015-8).
  • Congratulations to Karen Zwier who has successfully defended her dissertation, "Interventionist Causation in Physical Science”.
  • Edouard Machery and David Danks (CMU, Philosophy) are organizing a workshop - “Bayes, the Mind, and the Brain” - on Bayesian models of cognition and neural processing. The workshop will take place at CMU, Baker Hall 154R, on December 12, 2014, 1:30-6:00pm. The participants are: Matteo Colombo (Tilburg), David Danks (CMU), Tai Sing Lee (CMU), and Richard Samuels (OSU). The number of places is limited. If you would like to attend this workshop, please contact Edouard Machery.
  • Nobel prize winning biologist, Dr. Philip Sharp, will present two lectures hosted by HPS and the Biological Sciences Departments. On Wednesday November 12th, Dr. Sharp will present on “Three Revolutions in Molecular Biology”. This will be followed by a lecture on Thursday November 13th, “The Biology of Non-coding RNAs”. See here for details.
  • On October 14, 2014, at an Interdisciplinary Workshop on Robustness, Sandra Mitchell received the medal of the Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma. Here is a photo of the event.
  • The latest edition of Philosophy of Science includes an article by HPS graduate student Julia Bursten: "Microstructure without Essentialism: A New Perspective on Chemical Classification."
  • The Department of History and Philosophy of Science is pleased to offer a one or two term Mellon Post Doctoral Fellowship in the period August 30, 2015--April 30, 2016.