Option Representative: Nicolas Wey-Gomez
Full-Time Faculty: Jed Z. Buchwald, Fiona Cowie, Diana L. Kormos-Buchwald, Mordechai Feingold, Chris Hitchcock, Gideon Manning, Steven Quartz, Nicolas Wey-Gomez.
Historical research in the program includes the origins of experimental practice, the social and institutional contexts of science, the origins and applications of quantitative methods, specific developments since antiquity in biology, chemistry, geography and cartography, medicine, and physics, as well as biographical and comparative studies in these fields. Philosophical research in the program deals with issues in causation, explanation, scientific inference, the foundations of probability and decision theory, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience, and scientific fraud and misconduct.
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.
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.
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.