Major

Undergraduate students in the Program in History and Philosophy of Science and Technology do their coursework either in the Department of History, through its interdisciplinary major in History, Science and Medicine, or in the Department of Philosophy, through its major in History and Philosophy of Science.


The interdisciplinary structure of requirements also allows students to do coursework in other departments that house the humanistic and social study of science, such as Anthropology, Classics, English, Political Science and in scientific disciplines.

Undergraduate Major in Science, Technology, Environment and Medicine within the History Department

Faculty Coordinator: Paula Findlen

The Science, Technology, Environment and Medicine major is a collaboration of the Department of History with the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science. The major is designed for students interested in both sciences and humanities, and in the interactions between the two. It is also especially useful for students contemplating medical school, since it allows them to study the history of medicine, biology, and allied sciences in conjunction with fulfilling the pre-med science requirements. The requirements for the major are listed within the History section of the bulletin under the subsection: Science, Technology, Environment and Medicine. (The student's advisor must approve his/her choice of courses for each cluster).

Undergraduate Major in History and Philosophy of Science within the Philosophy Department

Faculty Coordinator: Michael Friedman

History & Philosophy of Science

Bulletin information about the major supercedes this information, consult Stanford Bulletin, Philosophy section

Undergraduates may major in Philosophy with a degree field in History and Philosophy of Science under the Department of Philosophy. Each participating student is assigned an adviser who approves the course of study. A total of 61 units are required for the sub-major, to be taken according to requirements 1 through 5 below. Substitutions for the listed courses are allowed only by written consent of the under-graduate adviser for History and Philosophy of Science. Students are encouraged to consider doing honors work with an emphasis on the history and philosophy of science. Interested students should see the description of the honors thesis in Philosophy and consult their advisers for further information.

Three science courses (for example, biology, chemistry, physics) for 12 units.
The following Philosophy (PHIL) core courses must be completed with a letter grade by the end of the junior year:
  1. one from 49, 150, 151, 154
  2. 60 or 61
  3. 80
Three history of science courses.
Three philosophy of science courses, of which one must be PHIL 164.
Three additional courses related to the major, in philosophy or history, to be agreed on by the adviser.
At least six courses in the major must be completed at Stanford with a letter grade.

Units for Tutorial, Directed Reading, or The Dualist (196, 197, 198) may not be counted in the requirement. No more than 10 units completed with grades of "satisfactory" and/or "credit" may be counted in the requirement.

Transfer units must be approved in writing by the Director of Undergraduate Study at the time of declaring a major. Transfer courses are strictly limited when used to satisfy major requirements.

Courses offered in the area of History and Philosophy of Science

See the official Stanford Bulletin for the latest course updates

Introductory Courses

Title
Instructor
Quarter
Day, Time, Location

HPS 60
This course introduces students to tools for the philosophical analysis of science. We will cover issues in observation, experiment, and reasoning, questions about the aims of science, scientific change, and the relations between science and values.

Ryckman, T. (PI)
Kajercline, H. (TA)
Pereira, A. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM
60-109

PHIL 60
This course introduces students to tools for the philosophical analysis of science. We will cover issues in observation, experiment, and reasoning, questions about the aims of science, scientific change, and the relations between science and values.

Ryckman, T. (PI)
Kajercline, H. (TA)
Pereira, A. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM
60-109

Science in History

This sequence is designed to introduce students to the history of Science from antiquity to the 20th century. Students are advised to take most or all of this sequence as a core foundation.

Title
Instructor
Quarter
Day, Time, Location

CLASSICS 47
What is the relation between magic and science? Is religion compatible with the scientific method? Are there patterns in the stars? What is a metaphor? This course will read key moments in Greek and Islamic science and philosophy and investigate the philosophy of language, mathematical diagrams, manuscripts, the madrasa, free will, predestination, and semantic logic. We will read selections from Ibn Taymiya, Ibn Haytham, Omar Khayyam, Baha al-Din al-Amili, and others.

Netz, R. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM
380-380W

CLASSICS 185
In this course we learn to read Medieval Greek manuscripts, concentrating on the most exciting of them all: the Archimedes Palimpsest. We begin by learning the Greek mathematical language, through a brief reading of Euclid. Following that, we learn how to read Euclid from manuscript and, following that, we proceed to read the Archimedes palimpsest itself. Course requires one year of Greek.

Netz, R. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM
110-112

COMPLIT 107A
What is the relation between magic and science? Is religion compatible with the scientific method? Are there patterns in the stars? What is a metaphor? This course will read key moments in Greek and Islamic science and philosophy and investigate the philosophy of language, mathematical diagrams, manuscripts, the madrasa, free will, predestination, and semantic logic. We will read selections from Ibn Taymiya, Ibn Haytham, Omar Khayyam, Baha al-Din al-Amili, and others.

Netz, R. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM
380-380W

HUMCORE 121
What is the relation between magic and science? Is religion compatible with the scientific method? Are there patterns in the stars? What is a metaphor? This course will read key moments in Greek and Islamic science and philosophy and investigate the philosophy of language, mathematical diagrams, manuscripts, the madrasa, free will, predestination, and semantic logic. We will read selections from Ibn Taymiya, Ibn Haytham, Omar Khayyam, Baha al-Din al-Amili, and others.

Netz, R. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Tuesday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM
380-380W

HISTORY 40A
(Same as History 140A. 40A is 3 units; 140A is 5 units.) What do people know and how do they know it? What counts as scientific knowledge? In the 16th and 17th centuries, understanding the nature of knowledge engaged the attention of individuals and institutions including Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, the early Royal Society, and less well-known contemporaries. New meanings of observing, collecting, experimenting, and philosophizing, and political, religious, and cultural ramifications in early modern Europe.

Fennell-Chametzky, M. (TA)
Riskin, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM
200-034

HISTORY 140A
(History 140A is 5 units; History 40A is 3 units.) What do people know and how do they know it? What counts as scientific knowledge? In the 16th and 17th centuries, understanding the nature of knowledge engaged the attention of individuals and institutions including Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, the early Royal Society, and less well-known contemporaries. New meanings of observing, collecting, experimenting, and philosophizing, and political, religious, and cultural ramifications in early modern Europe.

Fennell-Chametzky, M. (TA)
Riskin, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
1:30 PM
2:50 PM
200-034

HISTORY 40S
What is a mind? Who has one? How can you know? This course investigates how psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, statisticians, test-makers, medical practitioners, linguists, economists, and others wrestled with these questions from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries all across the globe. Through analyses of treatises, letters, newspapers, tests, illustrations, diagrams, instruments, and videos, we follow how theorists of the mind, thinking, rationality, madness, and more were attuned to one another and to the societal developments around them.

Fennell-Chametzky, M. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Monday Wednesday
3:00 PM
4:20 PM
200-201

Medicine in History

This sequence is designed to introduce students to the history of medicine from antiquity to the 20th century.

Title
Instructor
Quarter
Day, Time, Location

HISTORY 243G
Cigarettes are the world's leading cause of death--but how did we come into this world, where 6 trillion cigarettes are smoked every year? Here we explore the political, cultural, and technological origins of the cigarette and cigarette epidemic, using the tobacco industry's 80 million pages of secret documents. Topics include the history of cigarette advertising and cigarette design, the role of the tobacco industry in fomenting climate change denial, and questions raised by the testimony of experts in court.

2023 - 2024

HISTORY 243C
Explores the global circulation of plants, peoples, disease, medicines, technologies, and knowledge. Considers primarily Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World and focuses on their exchanges in the Caribbean, in particular within the French and British empires. We also take examples from other knowledge traditions, where relevant. Readings treat science and medicine in relation to voyaging, the natural history of plants, environmental exchange, racism, and slavery in colonial contexts.

Schiebinger, L. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday
1:30 PM
4:20 PM
200-201

HISTORY 343C
Explores the global circulation of plants, peoples, disease, medicines, technologies, and knowledge. Considers primarily Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World and focuses on their exchanges in the Caribbean, in particular within the French and British empires. We also take examples from other knowledge traditions, where relevant. Readings treat science and medicine in relation to voyaging, the natural history of plants, environmental exchange, racism, and slavery in colonial contexts.

Schiebinger, L. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Monday
1:30 PM
4:20 PM
200-201

HISTORY 40S
What is a mind? Who has one? How can you know? This course investigates how psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, statisticians, test-makers, medical practitioners, linguists, economists, and others wrestled with these questions from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries all across the globe. Through analyses of treatises, letters, newspapers, tests, illustrations, diagrams, instruments, and videos, we follow how theorists of the mind, thinking, rationality, madness, and more were attuned to one another and to the societal developments around them.

Fennell-Chametzky, M. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Spring

Monday Wednesday
3:00 PM
4:20 PM
200-201

Philosophical Perspectives on Science, Medicine, and Technology

This sequence is designed to introduce students to the philosophy of science. Students are advised to take HPS 60 Introduction to Philosophy of Science above as a starting point, and combine a number of the electives listed below in conjunction with courses in the other concentrations that address their specific interests.

Title
Instructor
Quarter
Day, Time, Location

PHYSICS 293
Study of the literature of any special topic. Preparation, presentation of reports. If taken under the supervision of a faculty member outside the department, approval of the Physics chair required. Prerequisites: 25 units of college physics, consent of instructor.

2023 - 2024
Spring

PHYSICS 293
Study of the literature of any special topic. Preparation, presentation of reports. If taken under the supervision of a faculty member outside the department, approval of the Physics chair required. Prerequisites: 25 units of college physics, consent of instructor.

2023 - 2024
Summer

PHIL 125
(Graduate students register for 225.) The founding work of Kant's critical philosophy emphasizing his contributions to metaphysics and epistemology. His attempts to limit metaphysics to the objects of experience. Prerequisite: course dealing with systematic issues in metaphysics or epistemology, or with the history of modern philosophy.

De Pierris, G. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday
12:00 PM
2:50 PM
100-101K

PHIL 165
Graduate students register for 265.PREREQUISITES: previous course in philosophy of science or natural science or CS or engineering. Topic for 2023-2024: Philosophical Issues in Quantum Mechanics.

Ryckman, T. (PI)
Hall, Z. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM
200-107

PHIL 225
(Graduate students register for 225.) The founding work of Kant's critical philosophy emphasizing his contributions to metaphysics and epistemology. His attempts to limit metaphysics to the objects of experience. Prerequisite: course dealing with systematic issues in metaphysics or epistemology, or with the history of modern philosophy.

De Pierris, G. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday
12:00 PM
2:50 PM
100-101K

PHIL 265
Graduate students register for 265.PREREQUISITES: previous course in philosophy of science or natural science or CS or engineering. Topic for 2023-2024: Philosophical Issues in Quantum Mechanics.

Ryckman, T. (PI)
Hall, Z. (TA)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM
11:50 AM
200-107

PHIL 365
2 unit option for PhD students only.

Ryckman, T. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Winter

Tuesday
1:30 PM
4:20 PM
80-113

Advanced Course Sequences

Contemporary Perspectives on Science, Medicine and Technology

The following courses focus on contemporary cultural and social science approaches to science, technology, and medicine.

Title
Instructor
Quarter
Day, Time, Location

HPS 199
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Spring

HPS 199
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Autumn

HPS 199
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Summer

HPS 199
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Winter

HPS 299
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Spring

HPS 299
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Autumn

HPS 299
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Winter

HPS 299
May be repeated for credit.

2023 - 2024
Summer

HISTORY 200D
An active, activist-oriented exploration of history of science methods, using exploration of the tobacco industry's secret documents as basic research materials. This is a fun class looking at how history of science methods were used to document the diseases caused by cigarettes, and how cigarette makers used (and abused) science to create doubt about their products. We also look at the rise of climate change denialism, which was largely based on "doubt is out product" techniques developed by cigarette makers.

Proctor, R. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Monday
1:30 PM
4:20 PM
200-015

HISTORY 304
For first-year History and Classics Ph.D. students. This course explores ideas and debates that have animated historical discourse and shaped historiographical practice over the past half-century or so. The works we will be discussing raise fundamental questions about how historians imagine the past as they try to write about it, how they constitute it as a domain of study, how they can claim to know it, and how (and why) they argue about it.

Riskin, J. (PI)

2023 - 2024
Autumn

Thursday
4:30 PM
7:20 PM
50-52H

For Undergraduate Admissions applications, please visit the Stanford undergraduate admissions page.