Professor Steven French

Professor Steven French

Professor of Philosophy of Science

+44 (0)113 34 33279

Summary: Philosophy of Science; History of Physics; Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics.

Steven joined the School in 1993 after holding previous appointments in Brazil and the USA.

He is Professor of the Philosophy of Science and his teaching and research interests are in the philosophy of science and the history and philosophy of modern physics. He has recently published a book on structural realism (The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation; OUP 2014; paperback 2016) and has just finished a further monograph on the applicability of mathematics to science, with Otavio Bueno. Over the past couple of years he has also worked on a series of papers on dispositionalism in the context of modern physics and the relationship between science and metaphysics in general. Currently he is exploring the connections between the philosophy of art and the philosophy of science and is particularly concerned with the similarities and differences between scientific theories and artworks. At some point he is going to stun the world (or not) with a book on Husserl and the phenomenological approach to quantum mechanics.

Steven is Co-Editor-in-Chief (with Wendy Parker of the University of Durham) of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (, one of the most highly regarded journals in the field. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Palgrave-Macmillan series, New Directions in Philosophy of Science (

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Science, especially models and the semantic approach, representation and structural realism
  • Philosophy of Physics, especially the metaphysical foundations of quantum mechanics
  • History of Physics, especially twentieth century

Research Students

PhD supervision can be offered in all of the above areas. 

Current PhD students include Callum Duguid (Humean Forms of Structuralism), Fabio Ceravolo (Composition and Parthood in Science; co-supervised with Robbie Williams), Douglas Earl (Ontological Foundations of Quantum Field Theory; co-supervised with Juha Saatsi), Alice Murphy (Thought Experiments in Science and Art; co-supervised with Aaron Meskin); Simon Newey (Probability and Decoherence in Quantum Mechanics; co-supervised with Juha Saatsi) and Nahuel Sznajderhaus (Inter-theory Relations Between Classical and Quantum Mechanics).

Former PhD students include Otávio Bueno (University of Miami), George Darby (University of Oxford), James Fraser (Edelstein Centre, University of Jerusalem; and from Aug 2017, Dept. of HPS, Pittsburgh), James Ladyman (University of Bristol), Kerry McKenzie (University of California, San Diego), Dean Rickles (University of Sydney), Juha Saatsi (University of Leeds), Sam Schindler (Aarhus University), Pete Vickers (University of Durham), among others.


‘Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies’, with Juha Saatsi, forthcoming in J. Saatsi and A. Reutlinger (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation, Oxford University Press.

‘There Are No Such Things as Ordinary Objects’ forthcoming in J. Cumpa and B. Brewer (eds.), The Nature of Ordinary Objects, Cambridge University Press.

‘Building Bridges with the Right Tools: Modality and the Standard Model’, forthcoming in Proceedings of EPSA2015

‘Realism and Metaphysics’, forthcoming in J. Saatsi (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Realism, Routledge.

‘Doing Away with Dispositions’, forthcoming in A. Spann and D. Wehinger (eds.), Dispositionalism. Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, Springer Synthese Library, Springer.

‘Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can Still Make a Contribution’, forthcoming in Journal of General Philosophy of Science.

‘Structural Realism and the Toolbox of Metaphysics’ in E. Agazzi (ed.), Varieties of Scientific Realism: Objectivity and Truth in Science, Springer, pp. 227-244, 2017.

The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation. Oxford University Press, 2014 (pbk 2016).

Philosophy of Science: Key Concepts, Bloomsbury Academic , 2016 (2nd ed. of Science: Key Concepts in Philosophy, updated and with new ch. on explanation).

‘Response to my Critics’ (Symposium Review), Metascience, 25, pp. 189-206, 2016.

‘Eliminating Objects Across the Sciences’, in A. Guay and T. Pradeu (eds.), Individuals Across Sciences, Oxford University Press, pp. 371-394, 2016.

Further papers can be found via

or by emailing me at: