What is History and Philosophy of Science?


Image shows students working in the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University.

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) considers what science is and how it has come to matter so much to us. 

We look at science and technology via an interdisciplinary approach - using philosophical, historical and social perspectives. 

We examine science, not to solve scientific problems, but to consider what prompted certain theories to come about, how they developed and what they teach us today. This way, we gain an extraordinary insight into, and comprehension of, the amazing nature of science, technology and medicine. 

Some of the questions we address include: 

  • Can scientific theories ever be proved true?
  • What sense can be made of the world revealed by quantum mechanics and relativity theory?
  • Can biology be reduced to physics?
  • What conditions led to the rise of modern science in 17th Century Europe?
  • How did Newton frame his theory of universal gravitation?
  • What impact has Darwin's Theory of Evolution made on society?
  • Is modern Western medicine superior to Chine, Ayurvedic or 'alternative' medicine?
  • Do consumers get the technologies they want?
  • Is science gender neutral?

We use a cross-section of resources to think critically about scientific knowledge, where this comes from, and its impact on the world, including artefacts from our own Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine which is bringing collections of items from the past back to life and into the world of learning.