History and Philosophy of Science
The HPS group investigates the origins and construction of knowledge, appreciating the differences between various kinds of academic and non-academic knowledge. Historical and philosophical methods offer a fruitful starting point for critical reflection, which is a crucial element of scientific literacy—especially in a time when knowledge is increasingly contested.
We believe that philosophical and historical perspectives can enrich any research program and that every student and researcher at Utrecht University (UU) should be challenged to reflect critically on their research field. To stimulate this, we offer bachelor’s courses for students from the entire university, as well as a thriving HPS master’s program that is one of the top programs in its field in Europe. Our academic integrity workshops are embedded in all parts of the Graduate School of Natural Sciences. The HPS group of the Freudenthal Institute is one of the main nodes of the UU-wide Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities.
The HPS group includes researchers from many different disciplinary backgrounds. We use a growing range of philosophical and historical methods, including innovative digital humanities approaches, to explore the following four focus areas:
- The Nature of Knowledge;
- Knowledge and Values;
- Our Changing Relation to Nature;
- Community-Engaged Critical Reflection in Higher Education.
Examples of research topics within these focus areas are:
- history of academic knowledge
- history & philosophy of the life sciences
- history, philosophy & foundations of physics
- history & philosophy of astronomy, cosmology & the space sciences
- history of meteorology
- philosophy of techno-science
- history of pharmaceutical science
- public and political expectations of science in the 19th and 20th century
- philosophy and methodology of the social sciences
- philosophy and methodology of the health sciences
- philosophy and ethics of AI and information