History and philosophy of science

The history and philosophy of science (HPS) is an academic discipline that encompasses the philosophy of science and the history of science. Although many scholars in the field are trained primarily as either historians or as philosophers, there are degree-granting departments of HPS at several prominent universities (see below).

A unified discipline

The organization &HPS (Integrated History and Philosophy of Science) has set forth a program for a unified discipline: "Good history and philosophy of science is not just history of science into which some philosophy of science may enter, or philosophy of science into which some history of science may enter. It is work that is both historical and philosophical at the same time. The founding insight of the modern discipline of HPS is that history and philosophy have a special affinity and one can effectively advance both simultaneously".[1]

One origin of the unified discipline is the historical approach to the discipline of the philosophy of science. This hybrid approach is reflected in the career of Thomas Kuhn. His first permanent appointment, at the University of California, Berkeley,[2] was to a position advertised by the philosophy department, but he also taught courses from the history department. When he was promoted to full professor in the history department only, Kuhn was offended at the philosophers' rejection because "I sure as hell wanted to be there, and it was my philosophy students who were working with me, not on philosophy but on history, were nevertheless my more important students".[3] This attitude is also reflected in his historicist approach, as outlined in Kuhn's seminal Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962, 2nd ed. 1970), wherein philosophical questions about scientific theories and, especially, theory change are understood in historical terms, employing concepts such as paradigm shift.

However, Kuhn was also critical of attempts fully to unify the methods of history and philosophy of science: "Subversion is not, I think, too strong a term for the likely result of an attempt to make the two fields into one. They differ in a number of their central constitutive characteristics, of which the most general and apparent is their goals. The final product of most historical research is a narrative, a story, about particulars of the past. [...] The philosopher, on the other hand, aims principally at explicit generalizations and at those with universal scope. He is no teller of stories, true or false. His goal is to discover and state what is true at all times and places rather than to impart understanding of what occurred at a particular time and place."[4] More recent work questions whether these methodological and conceptual divisions are in fact barriers to a unified discipline.[5]

HPS university departments, interdisciplinary programs, and divisions





Czech Republic







Iran (Philosophy of Science only)










United Kingdom

United States

See also


  1. ^ "About &HPS," http://www3.nd.edu/~andhps/about.html
  2. ^ "A Discussion with Thomas S. Kuhn" in The Road Since Structure, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 302.
  3. ^ "A Discussion with Thomas S. Kuhn," p. 302.
  4. ^ "The Relations Between the History and the Philosophy of Science," pp. 3–20 in The Essential Tension, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.
  5. ^ Lydia Patton, Philosophy, Science, and History, pp. 27–33, New York: Routledge 2014, http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415898317/.
  6. ^ A recasting of Kant's quotation: "Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind." Norwood Russell Hanson, "The Irrelevance of History of Science to Philosophy of Science", The Journal of Philosophy, 59 (1962): 574–586, at p. 580.
1667 in science

The year 1667 in science and technology involved some significant events.

Arthur I. Miller

Arthur I. Miller is Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at University College London. He took a PhD in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1991 to 2005 he was Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at University College London (UCL). At UCL, Professor Miller helped restructure an academic unit combining history and philosophy of science, sociology of science, and science communication to create UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies, renamed in 1994. He was instrumental in developing the UK's first undergraduate single honours BSc degree in History and Philosophy of Science, at UCL, launched in 1993.

Carlo Rovelli

Carlo Rovelli (born 3 May 1956) is an Italian theoretical physicist and writer who has worked in Italy, the United States and since 2000, in France. His work is mainly in the field of quantum gravity, where he is among the founders of the loop quantum gravity theory. He has also worked in the history and philosophy of science. He collaborates with several Italian newspapers, in particular the cultural supplements of the Corriere della Sera, Il Sole 24 Ore and La Repubblica. His popular science book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics has been translated in 41 languages and has sold over a million copies worldwide. In 2019 he has been included by the Foreign Policy magazine in the list of the 100 most influential global thinkers.

Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Leeds

The Centre for History and Philosophy of Science is a research institution devoted to the historical and philosophical study of science and technology, based in the Department of Philosophy, at the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. The Centre – previously known as the Division of History and Philosophy of Science, which was founded in 1956 – is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the world. Throughout its history, the Centre has been home to many of the leading historians and philosophers of science who have shaped our understanding of scientific activity and how it shapes and is shaped by wider society.

David Bloor

David Bloor (; born 1942) is a British sociologist. He is a professor in, and a former director of, the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh. He is a key figure in the Edinburgh School and played a major role in the development of the field of Science and Technology Studies. He is best known for advocating the Strong Programme in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, most notably in his book Knowledge and Social Imagery.

Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS), of the University of Cambridge is the largest department of History and Philosophy of Science in the United Kingdom. It received a maximum rating of 4* for the majority of its submissions to the RAE 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. Located in the historic buildings of the Old Physical Chemistry Laboratories on Free School Lane, Cambridge, the Department teaches undergraduate courses towards the Cambridge Tripos and graduate courses including a taught Masters and PhD supervision in the field of HPS. The Department shares its premises with the Whipple Museum and Whipple Library which provide important teaching resources for its teaching and research.

History of science and technology

The history of science and technology (HST) is a field of history which examines how humanity's understanding of the natural world (science) and ability to manipulate it (technology) have changed over the centuries. This academic discipline also studies the cultural, economic, and political impacts of scientific innovation.

Histories of science were originally written by practicing and retired scientists, starting primarily with William Whewell, as a way to communicate the virtues of science to the public. In the early 1930s, after a famous paper given by the Soviet historian Boris Hessen, was focused into looking at the ways in which scientific practices were allied with the needs and motivations of their context. After World War II, extensive resources were put into teaching and researching the discipline, with the hopes that it would help the public better understand both Science and Technology as they came to play an exceedingly prominent role in the world. In the 1960s, especially in the wake of the work done by Thomas Kuhn, the discipline began to serve a very different function, and began to be used as a way to critically examine the scientific enterprise. At the present time it is often closely aligned with the field of science studies.Modern engineering as it is understood today took form during the scientific revolution, though much of the mathematics and science was built on the work of the Greeks, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Chinese, Indians. See the main articles History of science and History of technology for these respective topics

International Union of History and Philosophy of Science

The International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology is one of the members of the International Science Council (ISC). It was founded in 1955 by merging the International Union of History of Science (IUHS) and the International Union of Philosophy of Science (IUPS), and consists of two divisions, the Division of History of Science and Technology (DHST) and the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology (DLMPST).

John Earman

John Earman (born 1942) is an American philosopher of physics. He is an emeritus professor in the History and Philosophy of Science department at the University of Pittsburgh. He has also taught at UCLA, the Rockefeller University, and the University of Minnesota, and was president of the Philosophy of Science Association. He received his PhD from Princeton in 1968.

List of University of Pittsburgh faculty

This list of University of Pittsburgh faculty includes instructors, researchers, and administrators of the University of Pittsburgh, a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.

Lonergan Institute

The Lonergan Institute is a center of research at Boston College (a private university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts), specialising in the work of Canadian philosopher Bernard Lonergan.

The Institute offers courses and seminars on Lonergan, his principal writings, and subjects that those writings illuminate, such as hermeneutics, political theology, science and religion, Christology, aesthetics, self-knowledge, economics, the Trinity, and the history and philosophy of science and mathematics.

The Lonergan Institute is also responsible for the Perspectives and PULSE programs at Boston College; these are interdisciplinary projects dealing with philosophy, theology, service, and other aspects of academia.

Nagarjuna G.

Nagarjuna G. (Nagarjuna Gadiraju) works in the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India. His major research interests include Science Education, Cognitive Science, History and Philosophy of Science and Structure and Dynamics of Knowledge. As an activist he focuses on promoting free knowledge and free

software and serves as the chairperson of Free Software Foundation of India.

Natural Sciences (Cambridge)

The Natural Sciences Tripos (NST) is the framework within which most of the science at the University of Cambridge is taught. The tripos includes a wide range of Natural Sciences from physical sciences to biology which are taught alongside the history and philosophy of science. The tripos covers several courses which form the University of Cambridge system of Tripos. It is known for its broad range of study in the first year, in which students cannot study just one discipline, but instead must choose three courses in different areas of the natural sciences and one in mathematics. As is traditional at Cambridge, the degree awarded after Part II is a Bachelor of Arts (BA). A Master of Science degree (MSci) is available to those who take the optional Part III. It was started in the 19th Century.

Nick Jardine

Nicholas Jardine FBA (born 4 September 1943) is a British mathematician, philosopher of science and its history, historian of astronomy and natural history, and amateur mycologist. He is Emeritus Professor at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at the University of Cambridge.

School of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney

The School of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) is a constituent body of the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney, Australia.

The HPS offers undergraduate and post-graduate programs in the history, philosophy and social studies of science and medicine and, jointly with the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM), administers the Sydney Bioethics Program .

Simon Schaffer

Simon J. Schaffer (born 1 January 1955) is a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and was editor of The British Journal for the History of Science from 2004 to 2009.

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science is a series of three peer-reviewed academic journals published by Elsevier. It was established in 1970 as a single journal, and was split into two sections–Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A and Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics–in 1995. In 1998, a third section, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, was created.

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies

The UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an academic department in University College London, London, England. It is part of UCL's Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. The department offers academic training at both undergraduate and graduate (MSc and MPhil/PhD) levels.

The department received its current name in 1994. It had been the "Department of History and Philosophy of Science" from 1938 to 1994, and the "Department of History and Method of Science" from 1921 to 1938.University College London was the first UK university to offer single honours undergraduate degrees in this interdisciplinary subject, launching its BSc in history and philosophy of science in 1993. Two related BSc degrees followed shortly thereafter. At UCL, science and technology studies (abbreviated "STS") includes three specialist research clusters: "history of science," "philosophy of science," and "science, culture, and democracy".The department offices are located in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London.

Whipple Museum of the History of Science

The Whipple Museum of the History of Science is a Museum attached to the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, which houses an extensive collection of scientific instruments, apparatus, models, pictures, prints, photographs, books and other material related to the history of science. It is located in the former Perse School on Free School Lane, and was founded in 1944, when Robert Whipple presented his collection of scientific instruments to the University of Cambridge. The Museum's collection is 'designated' by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) as being of "national and international importance".The Museum is one of eight museums in the University of Cambridge Museums consortium.

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