Graduate students in science, mathematics, or engineering may take a minor in history and philosophy of science (HPS). The graduate minor is devoted to the study of the historical evolution and philosophical underpinnings of the physical and biological sciences. Historical work in the minor includes the origins of experimental practice, the social and institutional contexts of science, the origins and applications of quantitative methods, specific developments since antiquity in physics, biology, and chemistry, as well as biographical and comparative studies. Philosophical research deals with issues in causation, explanation, scientific inference, the foundations of probability and decision theory, philosophy of mind and psychology, philosophy of neuroscience, and scientific fraud and misconduct.
The minor thus fosters the acquisition of broad knowledge about the scientific enterprise and related foundational problems, as well as more detailed analysis of the progress of and philosophical problems in particular branches of science. It is a valuable supplement to a technical degree since it helps equip students to understand the nature of scientific progress and to grapple with the conceptual basis of science and its wider ramifications. Students who successfully complete the HPS minor will be recognized with official credit for the achievement on their transcripts.
Graduate students who take an HPS minor are expected to complete Hum/H/HPS 10, HPS 102 ab, HPS/Pl 120, at least three units of HPS 103, and 18 units of additional work in HPS, to be completed by taking courses in HPS/H or HPS/Pl numbered 99 or higher. Students need not complete the requirements for the minor within the first two years of graduate study.