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

  • From May 22-24, 2017 the University of Pittsburgh will be hosting a conference on Aristotle Resurgent: Exploring Neo-Aristotelian approaches to Ethics, Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Science. The conference will be held in honor of Allan Gotthelf and will take place at the University Club. Click for a detailed schedule.
  • Check out our two most recent Instant HPS videos! The first, "Darwin in the Process of Discovery, was developed by Jim Lennox and Aaron Novick, while the "The Botanist and the Sphinx" was developed by John Norton, Siska de Baerdemaeker, and Willy Penn. You can see them here:
  • Jim Lennox will be giving a public lecture to the Center for Philosophic Exchange at The College at Brockport (SUNY) on Tuesday, April 11th at 5 pm. The title of the lecture is Aristotle and Darwin: Antagonists or Kindred Spirits? More information, including an abstract, can be found here:
  • At the Year of Diversity in Summary Poster Presentation on April 13 from 12-1:30, Nora Boyd and Morgan Thompson will be presenting a poster on their work with the American Association of Philosophy Teachers' workshop on Inclusive Pedagogy.
  • Congratulations to Michael Miller, who will be an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, jointly appointed in the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.
  • The University of Pittsburgh has been named the top university in the world for studying philosophy by the latest QS World University Rankings:
  • Holly Anderson will give the Annual HPS Alumni Lecture on March 16 at 5:00 pm in Conference Room A of the University Club. The title of her lecture is "Causation and Laplace's Pattern".
  • Sandra Mitchell has been appointed to be a Regular Visiting Distinguished Professor at Eidyn, a research center in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.
  • As of January 1, 2017 Sandra Mitchell has begun her two-year term as President of the Philosophy of Science Association.
  • Mazviita Chirimuuta will give the 23rd annual Dibner Library Lecture at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. on January 13. The title of her lecture is "Color in the Scientific Image". See here for more information:
  • Bas van Fraassen will give the Wesley C. Salmon Memorical Lecture on January 13 at 3:30 pm in 817-R, Cathedral of Learning. The title of his lecture is "After Hempel’s Dilemma: On the Evidence of Things Unseen".
  • HPS is hiring!
    Open Rank Professor of History and Philosophy of Science University of Pittsburgh, Department of History and Philosophy of Science is searching to fill two tenured or tenure track positions. Rank: Open in History and Philosophy of Science beginning September 1, 2017, pending budgetary approval. AOS: Open, but with strong preference for History and Philosophy of Biology; AOC: Open. Candidates should exhibit interest in integrating history and philosophy of science as well as in-depth knowledge of the science or sciences relevant to their research. Four courses per year; graduate and undergraduate advising; usual non-teaching duties. Ph.D. prior to appointment is required.
    Tenured applicants should submit a cover letter and a CV, references not required at this time, through the following URL:
    Untenured Applicants should submit a cover letter, a CV, at least three confidential references, a research statement, teaching experience, and a writing sample through the following URL: For each reference, you will have the opportunity to input a personal email address or an email address generated through Interfolio’s Online Application Delivery. In both cases, an email notification will be sent to the designated address with instructions about uploading the letters to our system.
    Review of applications will begin on October 31, 2016 and continue until the position is filled.
    Please direct any questions to Natalie Schweninger, HPS Department Administrator,
  • Mazviita Chirimuuta will be discussing color perception and consciousness on October 17th at the Colorhythm Institute in San Francisco. See for details.
  • Edouard Machery has been promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor and has been named Director of the Center for Philosophy of Science.
  • Porter Williams has joined the department as an Assistant Professor. Porter specializes in the history and philosophy of physics.
  • Watch Mazviita Chirimuuta’s interview from the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario.
  • Edouard Machery has been appointed to the Lectures, Publications, and Research Committee of the American Philosophical Association.
  • 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.