Our history

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. It was founded in 1960, due in large part to the efforts of the late Norwood Russell Hanson. We combine the study of philosophy, history, and science in ways that advance knowledge in each of these disciplines. It was Hanson’s view (paraphrasing Kant) that the history of science without philosophy is blind, while the philosophy of science without history is empty.

For its first few years, our department was known as the History and Logic of Science. Since its establishment our efforts have been devoted to using a wide variety of approaches from both history and philosophy to understand science, one of the most important conceptual and cultural enterprises of the modern world. Because of a long-standing tradition of teaching and research in the field of medicine, we recently adding “Medicine” to our name. We consider the medical tradition and its integration within the history and philosophy of science, to be a vital and continuing part of our mission.

One feature of our department today is a colloquium series, with experts on topics from the history of alchemy to the philosophy of quantum theory—and everything in between. Our Graduate Student Association also hosts a conference each year for students working on topics relating to the history and/or philosophy of science. Our faculty is very active and engaged, serving the academic needs of a vibrant group of graduate and undergraduate students. Courses in our department attract a wide variety of students in many fields.