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Department of History and Philosophy of Science



Departmental Seminars

Seminars take place on Thursdays from 3.30pm to 5pm in Seminar Room 2. Organised by Jacob Stegenga.

27 April

Gregory Radick (University of Leeds)
A look back at 'Biometrician Versus Mendelian: A Controversy and its Explanation' (1974)

Over the past fifty years, a major stimulus for history and philosophy of science has been contact with the sociological study of scientific knowledge. In this seminar I want to outline and reflect on the achievement of a sociological paper dating from the start of this period: 'Biometrician Versus Mendelian: A Controversy and its Explanation', by Donald MacKenzie and Barry Barnes. When the paper was completed in September 1974, MacKenzie was a PhD student in the Science Studies Unit in Edinburgh, where Barnes was his supervisor. Remarkably, this classic case study in 'Edinburgh School' sociology of scientific knowledge was never published in its original English-language form. One aim of this seminar is simply to make the paper more widely available. Another is to give seminar participants the opportunity – Zoom permitting – to hear about it from Donald MacKenzie directly. In my contribution I'll suggest that the paper continues to repay scholarly attention, not because its main claims are correct (I'll give my reasons for thinking they aren't), but because it permanently raised the bar for historians concerned to address the explanatory challenges posed by the debate over Mendelism, and perhaps even for scientific controversies generally.

4 May

Hopkinson Lecture Theatre

Michael Larkin, Lisa Bortolotti, Michele Lim (University of Birmingham)
Expertise as perspectives in dialogue

In this paper, we examine the notion of expertise by experience with reference to mental health research, discussing some of the objections commonly raised against its legitimacy. The best way to characterise the integration of different forms of expertise is to describe the process as a case of perspectives in dialogue, where a perspective is a way of referring to how something appears from a particular standpoint, which acknowledges the relevance of that standpoint to what is foregrounded; and a dialogue is a means of sharing insights, carried out to support reciprocal understanding. Co-design and co-production approaches encourage perspective taking and use group processes and facilitation to support community consensus building. It is through such collaborative and relational processes that common objections against the legitimacy of expertise by experience can be addressed.

11 May

Denis Walsh (University of Toronto)
Norms are like colours: naturalism and the constitutively perspectival

Oughts – not just moral oughts, but biological oughts too – make a difference to the natural world. Certain events or regularities occur because they ought to; and their oughting to figures in an explanation of their occurrence. In this respect, normative properties look like natural properties. I attempt to locate norms in the nature. I draw on the recent work in perspectival pluralism to sketch an account of what natural normativity might be, and why it fails to show up in our usual scientific accounts of the world. Normative facts, I claim, are constitutively perspectival facts. The category of the constitutively perspectival should not be problematic for the naturalist. Many phenomena we accept as natural – like colours – fall into it.

18 May

Alison Bashford (University of New South Wales)
Reading modern hands: identity and human types from palmistry to genetics

This paper tracks a twentieth-century trajectory of hand-reading in modern diagnostics: of disease and syndrome, of personality and singular identity, and of human types and 'race'. Not only for fortune-telling palmists was identity laid bare in the hand, but for all kinds of other experts in bodies and minds as well. The paper analyses twentieth-century knowers-of-hands across an unlikely range of disciplines that have stronger and stranger crossovers than we might expect, connecting palmistry with a range of emerging 'psy' disciplines, with comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, primatology, and with human and medical genetics. Over the twentieth century, the human hand proved to be enduringly 'eloquent', as anatomist and natural theologian Charles Bell had put it long before in his canonical 1833 treatise, The Hand. The paper argues for a plain disenchantment of chiromancy, qualifying historians' common commitment to theses of re-enchantment. One strand of palm-reading's recent past turns out to be part of the history of scientific naturalism, not super-naturalism at all.

Alison Bashford FBA is Scientia Professor of History, University of New South Wales. Previously she was Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge. Her most recent monograph is An Intimate History of Evolution: The Story of the Huxley Family (Random House, 2022). Her most recent co-edited book is New Earth Histories: Geo-cosmologies and the Making of the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 2023), with Emily Kern and Adam Bobbette. She is currently writing The Strange History of the Hand (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).

25 May

Jeremy Greene (Johns Hopkins University)
The doctor who wasn't there: technology, history, and the limits of telehealth

'The doctor who wasn't there' traces the long arc of enthusiasm for – and skepticism of – electronic media in health and medicine. Over the past century, a series of new technologies promised to democratize access to healthcare. From the humble telephone to the connected smartphone, from FM radio to wireless wearables, from cable television to the 'electronic brains' of networked mainframe computers: each new platform has promised a radical reformation of the healthcare landscape.

With equal attention to the history of technology, the history of medicine, and the politics and economies of American healthcare, physician and historian Jeremy Greene explores the role that electronic media play, for better and for worse, in the past, present, and future of our health. Today's telehealth devices are far more sophisticated than the hook-and-ringer telephones of the 1920s, the radios that broadcast health data in the 1940s, the closed-circuit televisions that enabled telemedicine in the 1950s, or the online systems that created electronic medical records in the 1960s. But the ethical, economic, and logistical concerns they raise are prefigured in the past, as are the gaps between what was promised and what was delivered. Each of these platforms also produced subtle transformations in health and healthcare that we have learned to forget, displaced by promises of ever newer forms of communication that took their place. Illuminating the social and technical contexts in which electronic medicine has been conceived and put into practice, Greene's history shows the urgent stakes, then and now, for those who would seek in new media the means to build a more equitable future for American healthcare.

1 June
Twenty-Seventh Annual Hans Rausing Lecture

4.30pm in the Frankopan Hall, Jesus College

Paul N. Edwards (Stanford University)
Technology eats history: time and techno-metabolism in the Anthropocene


Coffee with Scientists

The aim of this group is to explore and enhance the interface between HPS and science. Although many of us in HPS engage closely with scientists and their practices, we could benefit from more explicit discussions about the relationship between HPS and science itself, and from more opportunities for HPS-scholars and scientists to help each other's work.

We meet on Fridays, 3.30–5.00pm in HPS Seminar Room 1. Further information, any reading materials, and links for online meetings will be distributed through the email list of the group. Please contact Hasok Chang (hc372) or Marta Halina (mh801) if you would like to be included on the list.

28 April

Derek Braverman, Benjamin Chin-Yee, Cameron Dashwood, Arsham Nejad Kourki, Nuno Oliveira, and Mona-Marie Wandrey (Cambridge HPS)
Coming into HPS after full scientific/medical training: a roundtable discussion with current HPS PhD and MPhil students

12 May – on Zoom

Samantha Gallivan (Centre for Performance Science, Imperial College London)
'He's still on tour': global performers 'doing' chemistry in the wet lab

2 June

Shaun Nichols (Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University)
How do the fields of philosophy and psychology inform each other?

9 June

Jeffrey Y. Tsao (Material, Physical and Chemical Sciences Center, Sandia National Laboratories)
The genesis of technoscientific revolutions


Cabinet of Natural History

This research seminar is concerned with all aspects of the history of natural history and the field and environmental sciences. The regular programme of papers and discussions takes place over lunch on Mondays. In addition, the Cabinet organises a beginning-of-year fungus hunt and occasional expeditions to sites of historical and natural historical interest, and holds an end-of-year garden party.

Seminars are held on Mondays at 1pm in Seminar Room 1 in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Free School Lane, Cambridge. The seminars will no longer be streamed on Zoom, and all are welcome to join us in person.

Organised by Silvia M. Marchiori.

8 May

Jacob Orrje (Uppsala University)
Merchants of Enlightenment: making knowledge move between England and Sweden, 1700–72

What connected the correspondence networks of eighteenth-century scholars? Earlier studies of early modern scholarly exchange have provided detailed maps of correspondents, yet we know surprisingly little about the merchants and sailors who ensured the flow of things – such as letters, books, and instruments – between scholarly communities. The project 'Merchants of Enlightenment' examines such logistical infrastructure in Anglo-Swedish scholarly circulation of knowledge, through the case of a group of London merchants engaged in the Anglo-Swedish metal trade. In this presentation, Jacob Orrje will relate this group to the Northern-European cultures of useful knowledge in which they acted. Furthermore, Jacob will analyse how they became vital in securing the flow of information and things for regional scholarly networks not only of Linnaean naturalists but also, e.g., of philology, metallurgy, and astronomy.

15 May

Valentine Delrue (Ghent University & Ca' Foscari University)
The many faces of meteorology: weather knowledge at the Société Royale de Médecine in the French Enlightenment

In the eighteenth century, meteorology was a site of lively debate and discussion as multiple visions of weather knowledge were proposed. Despite this diversity in meteorological conceptions and methods, however, individuals and institutions involved in creating weather knowledge often shared the goal of managing living bodies. Therefore, to better understand the disciplinary dynamics of meteorology in this context, Valentine Delrue will look at different (bio-political) projects that aimed to advance meteorological knowledge. Through an analysis of their development, exchanges, and debates, Valentine aims to understand the different conceptions of meteorology that lie at the heart of these various undertakings. Perhaps the most well-known of these French projects was the network of meteorological correspondents of the Société Royale de Médecine (1778–1793). This network was managed by the priest and meteorologist Louis Cotte (1740–1815), who himself had been appointed by the permanent secretary of the Société Royale de Médecine, Félix Vicq d'Azyr (1748–1794). The network's general aim was to improve the understanding and management of diseases across France by collecting and analyzing observations sent every three months by medical correspondents. While on the surface level, Cotte's ambitions might have lined up with those of the Société and correspondents, their different ways of observing reveal telling differences in how they related to meteorology as a developing discipline.

Thursday 18 May, 2pm, Fitzwilliam Museum

Henrietta Ward (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)
Botanical drawings in the collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum

22 May

Craig Martin (Ca' Foscari University)
Taming experience: Giambattista Da Monte's commentary on the Hippocratic Epidemics I

Since the eighteenth century, scholars and physicians have celebrated the Hippocratic Epidemics, especially books one and three, as a model for observational medical practices. Recent studies have argued that sixteenth-century evaluations of the case studies in Epidemics I and III helped fuel the emergence of a new empirical culture. In the earliest printed commentary on Epidemics I (1554), Giambattista Da Monte, a professor of medicine at Padua, emphasized theoretical rules about prognostics, causation, and the importance of philosophy. Da Monte recognized the epistemological importance of experience, yet he understood it to be subordinated to theory. Rather than viewing Epidemics I and its case studies as a catalogue of raw observations that could form the foundation for new theories, he argued that the descriptions of symptoms and seasonal conditions were designed as exercises for teaching how to conjecture about diagnosis and therapy using already discovered principles.

29 May

Lynn Berry (Open University)
The nuns and the apothecary: transatlantic collecting in the eighteenth century

In this talk, Lynn Berry will examine the correspondence between Augustinian nuns in Quebec and their contacts in France, to whom they shipped plants and animals for fabricating medicines or as curiosities for collectors. Lynn will explore the mystery of this transatlantic relationship between the nuns and the French apothecary who was their main contact, considering why the sisters persisted in such activities for so long, despite many significant obstacles. Using their letters, which spanned decades in the mid-eighteenth century, as well as drawing from the Annales of their Augustinian community in New France, this paper will present a theory as to why nuns restricted by cloister, climate, and colonial wars, still persevered with their role in this transatlantic network.

12 June: Garden Party at Gonville and Caius Fellows' Garden, 1pm

Claire Sabel (University of Pennsylvania)
Finding common ground: the geopolitics of gems in the early modern earth sciences, c. 1600–1730

Before diamonds were discovered in Brazil in the 1730s, virtually all the world's diamonds came from a few localities in the Indian subcontinent and the island of Borneo. The growth of direct maritime commerce between Europe and the Indian Ocean world over the early modern period offered European naturalists new opportunities to learn about diamonds and other precious stones, as London and Amsterdam joined Batavia, Golconda, and Melaka as centres of the global gem trade. In this talk, Claire Sabel will follow several jewellers and gem merchants on their travels from Europe to South and Southeast Asia in search of stones over the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Most gem deposits remained under local control in this period, meaning that access to gems depended on existing regional trade routes, regimes of mine management, diplomatic negotiations, and artisanal expertise. Claire will explore how newcomers to the trade acquired knowledge of precious stones in situ, and how their knowledge reached Europe and entered learned discourse. By showing how gems served as a kind of common ground for aspirations for mineral wealth, political prestige, and scholarly inquiry, Claire will suggest that precious stones can also offer new insights into the conditions of knowledge production created by colonial commerce.


Classics of Cambridge HPS

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Department, the Classics of Cambridge HPS seminar series takes a commemorative look at some of the field-changing works produced by Cambridge scholars over the decades. We are inviting distinguished alumni of the Department to present these works, in discussion with the authors themselves whenever possible.

Video recordings of these seminars are available online.

Tuesdays, 1–2.30pm, Hopkinson Lecture Theatre

25 April

Michael Redhead, presented by Guido Bacciagaluppi

2 May

James A. Secord, Victorian Sensation, presented by Charlotte Sleigh, with comments by the author


History of Medicine

Seminars, supported by Wellcome, are on Tuesdays from 5.00 to 6.30pm in Seminar Room 1 unless otherwise stated. All welcome!

Early Science and Medicine

Organised by Dániel Margócsy and Philippa Carter.

16 May

Elizabeth Moreau (University of Cambridge)
Digestion in Late Renaissance medicine and alchemy

Monday 29 May

Dominik Wujastyk (University of Alberta)
The history of medicine in early South Asia: using digital humanities to quell the panic of facing huge manuscript traditions and the value of doing research in plain view

History of Modern Medicine and Biology

Organised by Salim Al-Gailani, Mary Brazelton, Staffan Müller-Wille and Dmitriy Myelnikov.

9 May, on Zoom

Oksana Vynnyk (University of Alberta)
Professional ethics, medical professionals and the famine of 1932–1933 in Soviet Ukraine

Generation to Reproduction

Organised by Salim Al-Gailani and Dániel Margócsy.

2 May




CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) is a network of academics and students working in the philosophy of science in various parts of the University of Cambridge, including the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and the Faculty of Philosophy. The Wednesday afternoon seminar series features current research by CamPoS members as well as visitors to Cambridge and scholars based in nearby institutions. In the 2022–23 year, CamPoS is being organised by Jacob Stegenga (HPS) and Neil Dewar (Philosophy).

Seminars are held on Wednesdays, 1.00–2.30pm in Seminar Room 2.

26 April

Michael Townsen Hicks (University of Birmingham)
Laws unconstrained: against minimal primitivism about laws of nature

Recently a number of authors (Adlam (2022), Chen and Goldstein (2022), building on the views of Mauldin (2007) and Schaffer (2016)) have argued that laws of nature should be seen as primitive modal constraints on physical reality. The idea is that laws are primitives which make some things necessary, and we as philosophers should refrain from speculating more deeply about their nature. We should, nonetheless, speculate enough to deny both Humean attempts to reduce laws to non-modal facts and Dispositionalist attempts to reduce global laws to locally instantiated modal properties. The view aims to retain the explanatory power of governing laws while divorcing them from any connections to dodgy metaphysics of properties or time which might not be supported by future (or current) physics.

In this talk, I argue that this primitive proposal faces numerous difficulties. By rejecting any account of the structure of laws, the view makes it harder to see how laws play their distinctive roles in explanation and induction. By combining a metaphysically necessary connection between laws and their instances with a strident quietism about the nature of laws, the view makes metaphysical necessity even harder to understand. I conclude with some quite general remarks on the viability of primitivist or purely structuralist views of laws of nature and nomological modality.

3 May

Thomas Pradeu (CNRS)
Can present-day philosophers make scientific contributions? From philosophy in science to conceptual and theoretical thinking in science

Despite the widespread idea of a growing divorce between philosophy and science during the 20th and 21st centuries, there have been many calls recently for a reconnection between them. There are in fact many ways through which philosophy can impact science. In this talk, I focus on one peculiar and often overlooked impact of philosophy on science: some philosophers use philosophical tools to produce science (Laplane et al., PNAS, 2019). Such use of philosophical tools to attempt to make scientific contributions is what I have called 'philosophy in science'. In recent work, we have shown that philosophy in science is a relatively small but clearly identifiable trend in recent philosophy of science, characterized by its specific methodologies, authors, and problems (Pradeu et al., BJPS, forthcoming). 'Philosophy in science' is not just scientifically informed philosophy of science. It is related to complementary science (Chang 1999, 2004) and philosophy of science in practice, although it is distinct from them. In this talk, I will offer a detailed examination of what philosophy in science is, and assess its impact on science. Finally, I will show that philosophy in science is better understood as part of a wider phenomenon, namely conceptual and theoretical thinking in science, done by philosophers and scientists alike.

10 May

Nick Huggett (University of Illinois Chicago)
Ways of branchmaking

I will use a simple model to explore the way in which 'branches' form and propagate locally by decoherence in quantum mechanics, aiming to clarify some of the puzzles people have had about the version of the Everrett interpretation explicated by David Wallace. My focus is on understand branches as physical (not purely formal) structures, but I will remain neutral on the further question of whether they really constitute distinct 'worlds'. (Based on joint work with Nadia Blackshaw and James Ladyman.)

17 May

Shaun Nichols (Cornell University)
Not for me: on the external function of guilt

The standard way of thinking about emotions in cognitive science starts with their function. The function of the fear program, for instance, is to help the individual evade imminent dangers. This functionalist proposal illuminates the character of the fear program, e.g., the kinds of things that elicit fear, and the kinds of responses that fear produces. The functionalist approach has been extremely productive, but it faces a puzzle with the emotion of guilt, for it's unclear what function the guilt program serves for the individual. As Deem & Ramsey put it: 'It seems that it is good for you that others are guilt-prone..., it is less clear that being guilt-prone is good for the individuals themselves' (2016, 571). Extant functionalist attempts to solve this puzzle (e.g., Frank 1988) have important shortcomings. To resolve the puzzle, we argue that the functional approach has been overly restrictive. Some cognitive systems need to be understood in terms of the functions those systems serve, not for the individual himself, but for others. That is, some cognitive systems have functions that are external to the individual. Just as the function of an artifact needs to be understood in terms of the interests of the artisan, so too the function of some cognitive systems needs to be understood in terms of the interests of those (e.g., parents, partners, or teachers) who crafted or shaped the cognitive system. This provides an alternative way of thinking about the function of the guilt program. On the external approach, we need to consider the function of guilt from the perspective of those who installed or edited the guilt program in the individual. From that perspective, it's plausible that a primary function of the guilt program is precisely to protect the individual(s) who stand to be harmed by the agent's action.

24 May

Stephan Hartmann (MCMP, LMU Munich)
Bayesian explanationism

Peter Lipton famously argued that we want our scientific theories to be lovely and likely, that is, we want them to provide good explanations and to be very probable (if not true). Unfortunately, there is a tension between these two epistemic virtues, and it is not clear how they are related. Thus, the question arises whether the Bayesian (who prefers likely theories) and the explanationist (who prefers lovely theories) can be friends, as Lipton claims. Although much ink has been spilled over this question, in this talk I want to take a fresh look at it and make two points: First, I argue that successfully providing an explanation is an example of non-empirical evidence in favor of the theory in question. This point can be made more precise by a simple Bayesian model, which also provides (as a bonus point, so to speak) a justification for the bonus point approach to explanationism inspired by van Fraassen and championed by Douven – at least if certain conditions are met. Second, I investigate how the strength of an explanation – its explanatory power – can be measured in Bayesian terms, and show how this all fits nicely into a coherentist epistemology of science.

31 May

Caspar Jacobs (Merton College, Oxford)
In defence of dimensions

The distinction between dimensions and units in physics is commonplace. But what are dimensions? The most popular view is that they are no more than a tool for keeping track of the values of quantities under a change of units. This 'anti-realist' view is supported by an argument from underdetermination: one can assign dimensions to quantities in many different ways, all of them empirically equivalent. In contrast, I argue that dimensions are real, so there are knowable matters of fact about a quantity's dimensions. The argument I provide is a form of inference to the best explanation. In particular, the technique of dimensional analysis is explanatory, but it only works if we assume that the relevant quantities have certain dimensions. Since these dimensions support explanations, we have reason to believe that they are real.


Pragmatism Reading Group

The Pragmatism Reading Group is held on Mondays at 11am–12noon in the Board Room. Damon Kutzin (dtk23), Miguel Ohnesorge (mo459), Helene Scott-Fordsmand (hs747).

In Easter Term, the Pragmatism Reading Group will be focussing on C.S. Peirce's philosophy of science. Starting off with a classic paper outlining basic tenets of his pragmatist philosophy, we continue to look at Peirce's ideas on theory-change, the link between philosophy and scientific practice, probability, statistics and the structure of scientific theories.

PDFs of all readings will be circulated in advance:

8 May: 'How to Make our Ideas Clear'

15 May: 'Notes on the History of Science'

22 May: 'Notes on Scientific Philosophy'

29 May: 'The Doctrine of Chances'

5 June: 'The Probability of Induction'

12 June: 'The Architecture of Scientific Theories'


The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse is a meeting place for students and researchers interested in the history and sociology of plants, food, agriculture and environment to explore how science and technology shape what we grow and eat. The regular programme of papers and discussions is curated in conjunction with the project From Collection to Cultivation, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The reading group is open to all. We meet fortnightly on Mondays, 2pm–3pm, in the HPS Board Room to discuss papers or presentations. Most meetings will be hybrid, with an option to participate via Zoom.

Organised by Helen Anne Curry.

8 May: Globalizing the Soybean

Chapter 4 ('Americanizing Soy') from Ines Prodöhl, Globalizing the Soybean: Fat, Feed, and Sometimes Food, c. 1900–1950 (Routledge, 2023)

22 May: Seeds and Profit

Part 3 ('Remaking Agrarian Capitalism') from Aniket Aga, Genetically Modified Democracy: Transgenic Crops in Contemporary India (Yale, 2021)

5 June: Radical Botanical Futures

Chapter 7 ('Becoming Plant Nonetheless') from Natania Meeker and Antónia Szabari, Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction (Fordham, 2019)


Values in Science Reading Group

We meet on Tuesdays at 11am in the Board Room. Organised by Marion Boulicault.

2 May

'On the Harms of Agnotological Practices and How to Address Them' – Inmaculada de Melo-Martín

9 May

'Underdetermination, Holism, and Feminist Philosophy of Science' – Lynn Hankinson Nelson

Wednesday 17 May (Seminar Room 1)

'How effective is transparency in managing values in scientific modelling?' – Eric Winsberg (this paper is a draft)

Wednesday 24 May (Seminar Room 1)

'Inductive Risk, Understanding, and Opaque Machine Learning Models' – Emily Sullivan – Philosophy of Science 89 (5):1065–1074 (2022)

30 May

'The Limits of Value Transparency in Machine Learning' – Rune Nyrup (with guest appearance from the author!)

6 June

'Algorithmic Neutrality' – Milo Phillips-Brown (with guest appearance from the author!)


Foundations of Physics Reading Group

In this reading group we look at pioneering and contemporary work in the foundations of physics, both on philosophical methodology as well as interpretations of particular theories. We welcome everyone interested in these topics, regardless of background.

Organised by Ruward Mulder and Neil Dewar.

Meetings in Easter Term are on Tuesdays, 3.00–4.30pm, fortnightly from 25 April.


Ethno-Science Reading Group

'Ethno-Science' is a reading group dedicated to programmatic and critical texts on the relationship between scientific and local, 'indigenous' or 'native' knowledges. We have a look at eighteenth-century travel instructions that asked to routinely record indigenous names and knowledge. We explore economic botany and zoology as an important strand of nineteenth-century natural history relying on systematic surveys of national and colonial territories, and the eventual consolidation of 'ethno-' disciplines in the twentieth century. The aim is to understand the relationship between reifications and reinterpretations of 'savage', 'indigenous', 'native' or 'primitive' knowledge and corresponding field practices of interrogation and interaction with local informants. We are interested in the putative shifts towards an increasingly global awareness and calls for the incorporation of 'traditional' knowledge in political and scientific discourses.

In Easter Term 2023, we want to turn to sources: the travel journals, field notes and interview records that allow insights into the negotiations and interactions at the shifting boundaries between 'Science and Its Others'. In each session, we will discuss extracts from sources selected by a member of the reading group who will also introduce them.

This reading group is part of the activities of the Gloknos Research Group 'Science and Its Others: Histories of Ethno-Science' led by Harriet Mercer, Staffan Müller-Wille and Raphael Uchôa.

The meetings take place in a hybrid format on Wednesdays from 1.00 to 2.30pm in Easter Term 2023 (4 meetings).

26 April


3 May

Staffan Müller-Wille: Extracts from Linnaeus's Lapland journal (Iter lapponicum, 1732)

10 May

Paula López-Caballero: The Sol Tax expedition to Zinacantán, Chiapas (Mexico, 1942–3)

31 May

Raphael Uchôa: Extracts from Richard Spruce's field notes on his travel to the Amazon basin (1849–1864)


HPS Workshop

Fridays, 5–6pm in Seminar Room 2
History sessions organised by Zsuzsanna Ihar (zdi20)
Philosophy sessions organised by Phillip Kieval (pzhk2)

HPS Workshop seeks to break the isolation of postgraduate research and encourage collaborative thinking by allowing students to present work in progress in a supportive seminar environment. The workshops will have alternate sessions focusing on Philosophy and History, but interdisciplinary presentations are always welcome.

Students are invited to present on any aspect of their research that they are grappling with or desire feedback on, including:

  • Unpacking complicated sources, concepts, or archives
  • Presenting drafts of chapters, conference papers, or publications
  • Proposing new ideas or strategies towards HPS research

The session is comprised of two parts: 20 minutes where the speaker outlines their work in progress (indicating areas that they would like feedback to be based upon) and 40 minutes of discussion.

12 May

Louis-Étienne Villeneuve
Mentalization, colligations and justification in historiography

19 May

Ruward Mulder
Fine-graining your ontological commitment to formalisms

2 June

Rory Kent and Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh
Crises and the history of science


Postgraduate Seminars

Ideologies of Science

Thu 12noon in Seminar Room 2
Nick Jardine (leader)

These seminars will explore rival conceptions of the nature of science and of its social and political roles. Ideological conflicts to be considered include: Philip Kitcher and his critics on science, feminism and democracy; the Society for Freedom in Science vs socialist visions of the functions of science; radical agnostic John Stuart Mill vs conservative Anglican William Whewell on the methods of natural science and its proper place in education; liberal Ernst Mach vs conservative Catholic Pierre Duhem on the history and prospects of the sciences; and the 'two cultures' controversy sparked off by C.P. Snow, champion of science education, and F.R. Leavis, champion of literary education.

27 April

Nick Jardine
Science, policy and education: Whewell vs Mill; Mach vs Duhem

4 May

Sam Phoenix Clarke and Peter Rees
Freedom and planning in science

11 May

Nick Jardine
The two cultures: Huxley vs Arnold and Snow vs Leavis


Language Groups

Latin Therapy

Latin Therapy is an informal reading group. All levels of Latin are very welcome. We meet to translate and discuss a text from the history of science, technology or medicine. This is an opportunity to brush up your Latin by regular practice, and if a primary source is giving you grief, we'd love to help you make sense of it over tea and biscuits!

To be added to the mailing list, or to suggest a text, please contact Nick Jardine.

In Easter Term 2023 we will meet weekly on Fridays, 1–2pm in the Board Room.