Full-Time Faculty: Jed Z. Buchwald, Fiona Cowie, Diana L. Kormos-Buchwald, Mordechai Feingold, Chris Hitchcock, Gideon Manning, Steven Quartz, Nicolas Wey-Gomez.
Few HPS programs aim to develop strong ties with scientists at their universities. As a result, opportunities for fruitful interaction between historians and philosophers of science and scientists themselves are lost. The program at Caltech constitutes a major exception: our historians enjoy connections with their colleagues in the sciences, as exemplified by HPS seminars, which colleagues from other divisions regularly attend, and by the Einstein Papers Project (under direction of Diana Kormos-Buchwald). Caltech philosophers of science have also long nurtured ties with their scientific peers: Steve Quartz and Fiona Cowie, for example, have had active collaborations within the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering.
Unlike many programs elsewhere, HPS at Caltech does not have graduate students. We are free from preoccupation with issues of training and employment that so often deflect scholars elsewhere from research, collaboration, and undergraduate teaching. Moreover, resources that might otherwise be devoted to graduate training enable us to bring to Caltech eminent and emerging historians and philosophers of science to work with us in a congenial and collaborative atmosphere that encourages interaction with the broad range of scientific activity at the Institute. Our distinguished visitors have included Timothy Breen, Anthony Grafton, Evelyn Fox Keller, John Heilbron, Robert Iliffe, Myles W. Jackson, Lisa Jardine, Naomi Oreskes, Jürgen Renn, and Noel Swerdlow. We also host the series of Harris Distinguished Lectures in Science & Civilization, which aims to foster greater understanding between the sciences and the humanities by bringing eminent people from both sides of the intellectual divide to Caltech - such as H. Varmus, Oliver Sacks, Richard Rhodes - to speak about their work and its broader social and intellectual context.
HPS faculty members also serve on the boards of numerous journals and series in the field. In addition, three journals and two book series in history of science (edited By Jed Z. Buchwald) have their homes partly or entirely here: Archive for History of Exact Sciences (Springer), Perspectives on Science (MIT), Sources and Studies in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (Springer), Archimedes (Kluwer), and Transformations (MIT). Both Archimedes and Transformations explicitly seek work that unites history and philosophy of science, emphasizing the connections that the program at Caltech fosters. Perspectives publishes work that tackles difficult and pressing issues in both the history and philosophy of science.
The HPS program has been built further since spring 2002, initially with the addition of Mordechai Feingold, a social and institutional historian of 17th- and 18th-Century science. He brought an essential component to the program, as the very structure of modern science has its roots in the early modern period, and also enhances connections with colleagues in history and literature. Since 2007, Gideon Manning has brought to the program his expertise in medieval and early modern philosophy, as well as in history and philosophy of biology and medicine. And, since 2010, Nicolas Wey-Gomez, has added his own knowledge on the history of cartography, geography, and exploration since antiquity. In addition, the program continues to explore the possibility of engagement with the history of 19th and 20th century biology and with empirical ethics. In Fall 2013, Frederick Eberhardt will contribute to our expertise in philosophy of science, bringing interdisciplinary connections to the fields of computer science and psychology. These additions and new thrusts combine with our existing strengths and close connections between historians and philosophers to produce a uniquely focused, collegial, and scientifically engaged program in the history and philosophy of science.
The option in history and philosophy of science (HPS) provides students with a broad education in the historical and philosophical issues arising in connection with science and technology. Students take courses addressing fundamental questions about scientific concepts and practice, such as the following: To what extent was the scientific revolution revolutionary? What is a scientific explanation and how do scientists go about constructing and justifying one? How have conceptions of scientific experimentation changed over time? How and why did modern physics (or chemistry or biology) emerge in the form that it did? How should the theory of evolution inform our conception of the modern mind and brain? What role can the neurosciences be expected to play in solving the 'mind-body' problem? The option thus aims to give students a broad basic understanding of the ways in which science is practiced, and the ways in which that practice has changed over time. It is designed to complement the regular curriculum at Caltech, offering students the opportunity to enlarge upon, and to contextualize, the strong technical skills they acquire in other courses and options. The HPS option provides excellent preparation for students going into law, business, medicine, and public affairs, as well as solid preparation for graduate work in history and/or philosophy of science. In addition, and because of its emphasis on essay writing and the formulation of complex philosophical and historical arguments, it aids budding scientists and engineers in developing the writing and communication skills that are increasingly vital today.
We recommend that students intending to follow the HPS option take Hum/HPS/H 10 "Introduction to History of Science" as one of their Freshman humanities courses. Students making the decision to take this option in their sophomore year should take Hum/HPS/H 10 and HPS/Pl 120 "Introduction to Philosophy of Science" as early as possible in that year. Students may also enter the option in their junior year if they can complete the option's requirements in time for graduation. Please also note the following:
History and Philosophy of Science Minor
The minor in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) is designed for students who want to pursue concentrated study in HPS without the extensive course work and the senior thesis required by the HPS option.HPS minors must complete 72 units of HPS courses. These may include Hum/H/HPS 10 and up to 9 units of advanced reading in HPS (HPS 98). Freshman Humanities courses other than Hum/H/HPS 10 may not be counted towards an HPS minor. SStudents wishing to do a minor in HPS must declare a minor with the HPS option representative. Those completing the HPS minor requirements will have the phrase 'minor in History and Philosophy of Science' added to their transcripts.