History and Philosophy of Science

Overview

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) is a unique discipline in the Faculty of Arts, which brings together perspectives from the history of science and medicine, the philosophy of science, and the social studies of science and technology. HPS offers a wide range of subjects at undergraduate level, which address questions about the nature of scientific inquiry, the way in which our knowledge of the natural world, as well as the human body and mind has changed throughout history, the complex relationship between science, culture, religion, and politics, and the place of technology in the modern world.

Given the central place of science in modern life, the need to critically reflect on science and technology is now more urgent than ever before. From global warming to gene technologies, from cyber-relationships to religion and politics, science and technology mediate change and help us understand the world and our place in it. While most of us are not professionally trained as scientists, we can acquire a form of scientific and technological literacy that enables us to understand 'where the science is coming from', what it means for us and our needs, and the wider social, cultural and political context in which science operates.

The University of Melbourne began teaching History and Philosophy of Science in 1946, one of the first places in the world to do so. It is one of the most eclectic programs in the university, embracing interests in 'almost everything'. One of the enduring visions of History and Philosophy of Science is to seek to bridge the two cultures of the sciences and the humanities.

Just as biologists might study life forms and organisms, historians, philosophers and sociologists of science study science and science in action... Dr Kristian Camilleri, Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science