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

  • imageThe department is very pleased to announce that Sandra Mitchell has been promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor in History and Philosophy of Science.”

    Along with many additional contributions to the philosophy of science, she is the author of Biological Complexity and Integrative Pluralism (2002 Cambridge Univ. Press) and Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity and Policy (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2009). She is is also currently serving as President of Philosophy of Science Association and on the Scientific Program Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Please join us in congratulating Sandy!
  • Edouard Machery (University of Pittsburgh, History and Philosophy of Science), Clark Barrett (UCLA, anthropology), and Stephen Stich (Rutgers University, Philosophy) are delighted to announce that the John Templeton Foundation has awarded them a 3-year (2018-21), $2.6 million grant for a project entitled “The Geography of Philosophy: An Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Exploration of Universality and Diversity in Fundamental Philosophical Concepts.”

    Throughout the history of philosophy, many thinkers have urged that some fundamental philosophical concepts are universal–used by all people. Historians and anthropologists have often been skeptical of these claims. Recently, cultural psychologists and experimental philosophers have begun to explore empirically whether fundamental philosophical concepts are shared across cultures. Our multi-cultural, interdisciplinary project will involve over a hundred philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, linguists, neuroscientists and economists in 10 regions around the world in order to determine whether, and to what extent, the concepts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom are shared across cultural groups.
  • Edouard Machery will be giving his Inaugural Lecture as Distinguished Professor ("Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds") on November 2, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. The lecture will be in the O'Hara Student Center Dining Room. All are invited to attend.
  • Have a look at Colin Allen's op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on artificial intelligence and empathy!
  • Take a look at Sandra Mitchell's new blog post over at the blog for the Union of Concerned Scientists!
  • Michael Dietrich (Dartmouth) (, currently Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology at Dartmouth, will be joining Pitt HPS beginning Fall 2017. Michael's research focuses on the history and philosophy of 20th century biology. Welcome, Michael!
  • We are pleased to announce that HPS major Margaret Farrell has been named a 2017 Beinecke Scholar:
    The Beinecke Scholarship is a prestigious national scholarship, awarded annually to only 20 undergraduates. Congratulations Margaret!
  • We are very pleased to announce that Colin Allen (IU-Bloomington) will be joining Pitt HPS as a Distinguished Professor, beginning Fall 2017. Colin's research focuses on the philosophy of biology and cognitive science, particularly animal behavior and cognition. He also has active interests in the philosophy of technology. Welcome Colin!
  • Wesley Buckwalter will be a Postdoctoral Researcher with Edouard Machery in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, 2017-2018.
  • Edouard Machery has been awarded a Humboldt Research Award and will be regularly visiting Ruhr-Universität Bochum in the coming years.
  • 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:
  • The University of Pittsburgh has been named the top university in the world for studying philosophy by the latest QS World University Rankings:
  • 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.