History and Philosophy of Science (HPS)

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) uses the tools and methods of the humanities (especially history and philosophy) to study the sciences understood as human endeavors. This includes historical evolution and context; conceptual foundations and puzzles; theories, methods, and claims to knowledge; institutions, material practices, and social structures, past and present.

Duke HPS incorporates science, technology, engineering, medicine, and mathematics. We promote universal ownership of the sciences as shared cultural inheritance through encouragement and support of HPS in research and in teaching across the academy.

On this website you can find information about events, people and units across campus that connect or relate to HPS. Please send information about additional events to katherine.brading@duke.edu.

Upcoming Events

Discussion of Grete Hermann’s 1935 work on quantum mechanics with Elise Crull

Time: Tuesday, March 3rd, 1:40-4:10pm

Location: West Duke 404, East Campus

In 1935, Grete Hermann -- a doctoral student of Noether's who pivoted from mathematics to neo-Kantian philosophy -- published one of the first and finest philosophical treatments of quantum mechanics.  While her main aim in the essay was to demonstrate consilience between Kantian causality and the new indeterministic physics, she accomplishes far more: not only does she outline a novel natural-philosophical interpretation of quantum mechanics, but she also provides an arguably clearer exposition of Bohrian complementarity & correspondence than Bohr himself.  Furthermore, she is the first person to draw attention in print to the uniquely quantum-mechanical phenomenon christened “entanglement" by Schrödinger later that year. 

Elise Crull is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at CCNY, and her publications include a book on Grete Hermann’s philosophy of physics (2017), co-authored with Guido Bacciagaluppi, which includes the English translation of Hermann’s ‘Die naturphilosophische Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik’ (1935) that we will read as the basis for our discussion.

All welcome. Please contact Katherine Brading katherine.brading@duke.edu for a copy of the text. The discussion is taking place as part of the HPSTM core seminar.


Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics: Prize Lecture

Time: Wednesday April 15th, 4:30pm

(more information to follow)

STS and Economics: An Informal History

Time: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 3:30pm

Location: Allen 314

Talk by E. Roy Weintraub titled STS and Economics: An Informal History." Weintraub is a professor at Duke University in the Economics Department. Roy Weintraub was trained as a mathematician though his professional career has been as an economist. Beginning in the early 1980s, his research and teaching activities focused upon the history of the interconnection between mathematics and economics in the twentieth century.

Professor Weintraub's current research interests include, and his current projects involve, issues in the historiography of economics particularly the role of biography, autobiography, and letters.

This event is hosted by Duke's Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory.

Seeing the Invisible: 50 Years of Macromolecular Visualization

Pastel Drawing of Triose Phosphate Isomerase Ribbon

Time: February 7, 2020 – July 21, 2020

Location: Location: The Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery

While visualizing proteins over decades, the Richardson Lab at Duke University has built and shaped a scientific community aiming to understand the molecular building blocks of life and of their associated medical applications. This exhibition explores the history of protein visualization by following the contribution of the Richardsons, who have been intimately involved with the various advances over the last half century.