Welcome to the Centre for HPS

History and philosophy of science

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at Leeds is one of the foremost centres for the subject in Britain, with seven permanent and several fixed-term staff, and a large and international body of research postgraduates.

Research in the Centre ranges widely across the discipline, including many aspects of the history of modern science, technology, and medicine and of the philosophy of science.  With a critical mass of postgraduates, staff, and associates, individuals are thus able to set their specialized interests within a wider intellectual frame. 

In the philosophy of science and philosophy of physics, Leeds maintains a Gourmet Report ranking of joint 15th in the world for the latter and joint 24th for the former. It is now also ranked for the first time in philosophy of biology. Major areas of research include realism, (including structural realism), and the relationship between metaphysics and science. Future research plans focus on explanation, the role of mathematics in science and the inter-relationships between the philosophy of science and history of science and also the philosophy of art.

Recent workshops include: ‘Objects, Kinds and Mechanisms in Biology’ (April 2012); ‘Objects and Symmetries in Physics’ (August 2012); and ‘What Can the Philosophy of Science do for the Philosophy of Art (and vice versa)?’ (October 2012).

In the history of science, the integration of knowledge, practices and contexts is pursued through such topics as intellectual property in science and technology, electrical technologies, genetics, print communication in the sciences, and science and religion. Crucial support has been provided by the Centre’s Museum of History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM), which has pursued research into the University’s scientific collections and mounted several exhibitions.

Recent projects include the AHRC-funded ‘Innovating in Combat: Telecommunications and Intellectual Property in the First World War’ and ‘Does the Teaching of Mendelian Concepts Promote Genetic Determinism?’, supported by the ‘Uses and Abuses of Biology’ programme of the Faraday Institute. A Faculty-funded theme 'Cultures of Ownership' has also been developed, which will underpin future research plans in the history of genetics, technology and scientific authorship. Future plans also include an AHRC-funded collaborative project with colleagues at Oxford and elsewhere on 'Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries'.

Recent major conferences include: ‘The Return of the Environment in Concepts of Heredity, Development and Evolution’ (May 2008), ‘New Perspectives on the Modern Synthesis’ (May 2009), ‘Managing Knowledge in the Technosciences’ (July 2010), co-located with a symposium and summer school on Intellectual Property and the Biosciences, 'The Skilful Naturalist: Experiment and Theorizing in Early Modern Science' (July 2011) and ‘Genetics, Genomics and Changing Understandings of Nature/Nurture: An Interdisciplinary Workshop’ (May 2013).

Finally, the Centre is a founding member of the ‘Integrated HPS’ network, which holds annual meetings around the UK and will host the 2014 conference in April 10-11th .

For more on the history of HPS at Leeds, see the account on Wikipedia and for all the latest news follow us on twitter @hpsleeds