History & Philosophy of Biology

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) is recognized as a world leader in general history and philosophy of science. In addition to strengths in the philosophy of physics, early modern natural philosophy, and ancient science, the department has excellent resources for graduate study in the philosophy and history of biology. 

The department is able to offer a generous package of financial support to most successful applicants for admission and has an excellent record of placing its PhD graduates in academic positions.

Participating Senior Faculty

James G. Lennox, Ancient Greek philosophy, science, medicine, and Charles Darwin and Darwinism. Author of Aristotle's Philosophy of Biology: Studies in the Origin of Life Science (Cambridge, 2000) and translator of Aristotle's On the Parts of Animals I-IV (Oxford 2002). 

Sandra D. Mitchell, Epistemological and metaphysical issues in biological science. Author of Biological Complexity and Integrative Pluralism (Cambridge, 2003) and Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy (Chicago, 2009).

Robert C. Olby, History of Genetics and molecular biology. Author of The Path to the Double Helix: The Discovery of DNA (Dover, 1994) and Francis Crick: Hunter of Life's Secrets (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2009).

Kenneth F. Schaffner, Philosophy and history of biology and medicine, including psychiatry. Author of Discovery and Explanation in Biology and Medicine (Chicago, 1993) and Behaving: What’s Genetic and What’s Not? (Oxford, forthcoming)

Recent Dissertation Projects:

Aleta Quinn, "Biological Systematics and Evolutionary Theory".

Peter Gildenhuys, “A Causal Interpretation of Selection Theory”.

Jim Tabery, “Causation in the Nature-Nurture Debate: The Case of Genotype-Environment Interaction”.

Ingo Brigandt, “A Theory of Conceptual Advance: Explaining Conceptual Change in Evolutionary, Molecular, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology”.

Megan Delehanty, “Empiricism and the Epistemic Status of Imaging Technologies”.

Alan Love, “Explaining Evolutionary Innovation and Novelty: A Historical and Philosophical Study of Biological Concepts”.