What is HPS? History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) investigates how the sciences really work. Using historical and philosophical methods it examines this question with the help of concrete examples taken from the sciences. It thereby entails two approaches, the history of science and the philosophy of science, being brought together in a single area of research.
The historical approach investigates the development of scientific issues, theories, and methods in connection with the cultural and social aspects of the scientists, their instruments, and the institutions involved. The philosophical approach focuses on the conceptual analysis and reconstruction of scientific theories, arguments, and methods. Both approaches benefit from their integration with each other in HPS. New light is shed on classical epistemological questions in the philosophy of science by evidence from the history of science; and in turn historical developments in science can be analysed epistemologically with regards to changing standards of rationality and argumentation.
HPS is a relatively new, steadily growing research area. Practiced in the second half of the 19th century by pioneers like Ernst Mach and Pierre Duhem, it was institutionalised in academia in the middle of the 20th century. Today it is being taught at major universities all over the world.
HPS also takes part in an open dialogue with other areas of science studies such as the Social Studies of Science.
University of Vienna
Department of Philosophy,
Institute Vienna Circle
Department of Contemporary History
Spitalgasse 2, Court 1.13
T: +43-1-4277-412 29