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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


The Postgraduate Seminars offer a sustained and systematic introduction to specific cutting-edge areas of research, led by leading experts in those areas.

Aims and Methods of Histories of the Sciences

Michaelmas Term 2022: Thu 12noon, weeks 1–4 (4 one-hour seminars) in Seminar Room 2
Nick Jardine (leader)

These seminars will consider aspects of the history, aims, methods and current problems of the history of science. The opening session will give an overview of the formation of history of science as a discipline and of the range of recent approaches. Subsequent sessions will discuss uses of histories of the sciences by scientists, the pioneering work of Hélène Metzger on the purposes of history of science, and the relations between history and philosophy of science.

6 October Nick Jardine
Formation and transformations of history of science
13 October Jeff Skopek and Nick Jardine
Scientists' uses of history
20 October Cristina Chimisso and Nick Jardine
Hélène Metzger on the methods and aims of history of science
27 October Hasok Chang and Nick Jardine
Philosophers' uses of history of science

 Aims and Methods of Histories of the Sciences on Moodle

Communication in the Sciences

Michaelmas Term 2022: Thu 12noon, weeks 5–8 (4 one-hour seminars) in Seminar Room 2
Jim Secord (leader)

All science is grounded in communication, but the literature in this field has not been as central to the history and philosophy of science as it should be. These seminars will examine a series of key topics in the sociology, philosophy and history of communication: scientific rhetoric and argumentation; genres and material forms; models of communication; audiences and reception; translation and cross-cultural communication. The seminars will be led and presented by Jim Secord, with occasional additional contributions from others. Each session will feature a 20-minute presentation from the organiser, with the rest of the session devoted to discussion and questions based on short readings.

 Communication in the Sciences on Moodle

Ideologies of Science

Lent and Easter Terms 2023: Thu 12noon (4 one-hour seminars) 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.

9 March Anna Alexandrova and Stephen John
Science, democracy and feminism in contemporary analytic philosophy of science
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

 Ideologies of Science on Moodle