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University of Pittsburgh    
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jun 20, 2024
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

History and Philosophy of Science, BA

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The study of the history and philosophy of science affords a broad appreciation of science, its nature and fundamentals, its origins and its place in modern politics, culture, and society. In the history of science, traditional historical methods are used to develop an understanding of how the sciences originated, how they were practiced, how they developed, and how they are related to their intellectual and social contexts. In philosophy of science, the sciences themselves are brought under philosophical scrutiny. We investigate the nature of science in general; what distinguishes scientific activity; how theories explain; how they are confirmed; whether they should be read literally; and the moral dilemmas raised by the sciences. We also investigate the fundamental content of individual sciences, and how it bears on the ancient philosophical questions: what is the nature of space, time, and matter; what is life; and what is thought. History and philosophy of science is distinctive in integrating history, philosophy, and science, with investigations in each that are often closely interwoven.

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at Pitt is a world leader in its field. Historians and philosophers of science worldwide come to Pitt for study and research. The undergraduate courses reflect the conviction that science and technology pervade every aspect of our lives, and have played a central role in cultural, religious, and philosophical development of our society.

A major in HPS is an excellent choice for students who wish to combine course work in the sciences with work in more humanistically inclined disciplines. Because HPS majors are expected to complete 15 hours of science credits, a double major in HPS and one of the sciences is especially attractive.

Required courses for the History and Philosophy of Science major

This major requires the completion of 12 courses distributed as follows.

Both of the following

HPS electives

Students must complete four HPS elective courses, one of which must be at the 1000-level. At least one course must be a history of science course.

Natural and/or Social Science electives

Students are required to complete at least four courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, or a combination of both. Majors must pursue at least one science course at an advanced (non-introductory) level. Students are strongly encouraged to choose these courses in consultation with the major advisor.

Grade requirements

A minimum GPA of 2.0 in courses that count toward the major is required for graduation.

Satisfactory/No Credit option

No course that counts toward the major can be taken on an S/NC basis.

Writing (W) requirement

Students must complete HPS 1703 - WRITING WORKSHOP FOR HPS MAJORS  for HPS Majors in conjunction with HPS 1702 - JR/SR SEMINAR FOR HPS MAJORS .

Declaring the major

Before students officially declare the History and Philosophy of Science major, they must have completed two HPS courses with a grade of B- or better and have permission from the major advisor.


Paolo Palmieri
CL 1017

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