skip to content

Department of History and Philosophy of Science


AD HOC (Association for the Discussion of the History of Chemistry) is a group dedicated to the history of chemistry. While our main focus is historical, we also consider the philosophical, sociological, public and educational dimensions of chemistry.

AD HOC has been meeting in various configurations since the summer of 2004, first at UCL and then also in Cambridge since 2010. Since 2008 our activities have been generously supported by the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC).

Currently we are continuing with the format of online discussion meetings run from Cambridge. This term we will be exploring philosophical perspectives on the history of chemistry, and each time we will be joined by the author herself or himself in the discussion.

We will be meeting on Mondays at 6.30–8.00pm UK time. Please contact Hasok Chang (hc372) if you would like to be on the mailing list of the group. Those on the list will receive the links for joining the online meetings, the exact specification or copies of the readings, and all updates on future activities.

Michaelmas Term 2021

18 October

Karoliina Pulkkinen (University of Helsinki/Helsingin Yliopisto), 'Values in the Development of Early Periodic Tables', Ambix 67:2 (2020), 174–198.

1 November

Sarah Hijmans (Université Paris VII Diderot), 'Analogy and Composition in Early Nineteenth-Century Chemistry: The Case of Aluminium'.

15 November

Zoe Screti (University of Birmingham), 'Christian Theology and Alchemical "Theorick": The Relationship Between the Reformation and Alchemical Philosophy in England'.

29 November

Klaus Ruthenberg (Technische Hochschule Coburg), '"Caught in the Amber": A Sketch of Chemical Underdetermination', in Adam LaCaze and Barbara Osimani, eds., Uncertainty in Pharmacology (Springer, 2020), 173–184; 'About the Futile Dream of an Entirely Riskless and Fully Effective Remedy: Thalidomide', HYLE 22 (2016), 55–77.