Philosophy of science beyond the practice turn

Tuesday 14-18, online (on zoom)

This is an advanced MA course, in English, for the master students of the program Analytic philosophy (second year). It can be taken as an optional course by students from other masters of the Faculty of Philosophy or other faculties of the University of Bucharest.

The purpose of the course is to familiarize the students with some of the recent trends in the history and philosophy of science “beyond the practice turn.”

General description of the course and seminar

The course provides a problem-based approach on new trends and topics in general philosophy of science seen in a historical perspective. Students will be taught to recognize, pursue and question the major solutions to trendy problems and questions, on topics such as the interplay between theory and experimental investigations, systems of practices, concept formation, tacit knowledge or the historiographic premises of various case-studies and reconstructions.

The course is problem-based and research oriented. Students will be partners in choosing or amending topics and bibliography. They have a say in selecting texts and questions for the seminar. The course will take place online (on zoom) and will heavily use this blog, which we will develop together, in a collaborative manner. Students will be asked to write blog-posts and pages, lead discussions and even upload short movies or podcasts on selected subjects.

Students will also be put in touch with researchers belonging to the SPSP and &HPS communities; we can organize invited talks or seminar discussions with the authors we are reading.


  1. Seminar discussion – students will be in charge of a seminar discussion they will have to organize and evaluate (at the end of the seminar). They will be involved in the process of selecting texts for the seminar and will discuss with the teacher some of the strategies for organizing the seminar.
  2. Blog posts: students will actively contribute, as authors, to this blog. They will write blog-posts and short presentations, individually or in collaboration.
  3. Book review. From the selected list of books; a presentation of the book will be included in the organization of the seminar. Students are required to write a 3000-5000 words book review (for a general audience, explaining the thesis and argument of the book, situating it in the field and explaining its relevance).
  4. Optional: Research paper (multiple drafts presented and feed-back given periodically); short written assignments intended to help students in their writing.

Topics for discussion in the course Some of the topics will be fixed from the start by the teachers while some topics will be decided as we go along. Students will be required to think about and propose topics for the seminar to complete the course description they will be given at the beginning of the semester.


  1. Philosophy of science as practice: an overview: &HPS, SPSP, philosophical history of science, HOPOS and other recent trends. Key concepts and recent debates.

Readings for the seminar:

Gallison (2008), Ten problems in history and philosophy of Science, ISIS, 111-124

Pinnick and Gale (2000) History of science and philosophy of science: a troubling interaction, Journal for the General History of Science, 109-125

   D.M. Miller (2011), The History and Philosophy of Science History, in Schmaltz, Seymour, Integrating history and philosophy of science, Springer

2. What kind of HPS?

Readings for the seminar:

P. Dear (2005), What is the History of Science the History of? , ISIS 96, 390-406

A. Grafton (2006), The history of ideas: Precept and practice (1950-2000), Journal of the History of Ideas, 67, 1-32.

3. The diversity of practices

Student team: Nickholas Carillo, Iulia Mihai

Readings for the seminar:

Chang, H. (2014). Epistemic Activities and Systems of Practice. Science after the Practice Turn in the Philosophy, History, and Social Studies of Science, 123-150.

 H. Chang (2011), Beyond case-studies: History as philosophy, in in Schmaltz, Seymour, Integrating history and philosophy of science, Springer

Hacking, I (1992), The self-vindication of the laboratory sciences, in Andrew
Pickering (ed.), Science as Practice and Culture, University of Chicago Press, 29-64

Arabatzis, Histories of the electron

4. Philosophical history and historical philosophy

Readings for the seminar:

Domski, Dickson (2010) Discourse on a new method or a manifesto for synthetic approach to history and philosophy of science, on Domski, Dickson (2010), Discourse on a new method: reinvigorating the marriage between history and philosophy of science.

G. Holton, Themata in scientific thought, in G. Holton, Scientific imagination

Student contributions:

  • a short written review and presentation of Michael Friedman (2010) in Domski, Dickson (2010) – to be posted on the blog
  • a short presentation of the notion of styles of thinking (in A.C.Crombie and Ian Hacking, and the criticism of Martin Kusch to this notion) – on the blog
  • a short presentation of the notion of themata in science (as introduced by Gerald Holton)


5. What is context?

Readings for the seminar:

Mercer, C. (2019). The Contextualist Revolution in Early Modern Philosophy. Journal of the History of Philosophy57(3), 529-548.

Ginzburg, C., & Davin, A. (1980). Morelli, Freud and Sherlock Holmes: clues and scientific method. In History workshop (pp. 5-36). Editorial Collective, History Workshop, Ruskin College.

Student contribution: A short discussion of Smith (2011) and Arabatzis (2011) on the discovery of the electron plus written presentation on the blog

6. Concept formation: historical and historiographical

Readings for the seminar:

Schickore, J. (2016). “Exploratory experimentation” as a probe into the relation between historiography and philosophy of science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A55, 20-26.

7. New technologies of argumentation

Readings for the seminar

Borrelli (2020) Giovan Battista della Porta’s construction of pneumatic phenomena and his use of recipes as heuristic tools, Centaurus, 64.

Jalobeanu, D. (2020). Enacting recipes: Giovan Battista Della Porta and Francis Bacon on technologies, experiments, and processes of nature. Centaurus62(3), 425-446.

8. Visualisation

Readings for the seminar (to be completed with proposals from students)

D. Rotbarth (2004), Designing instruments and the design of nature, in H. Radder, The philosophy of scientific experimentation

Van Fraasen, Scientific representations. Paradoxes of perspective, Oxford University Press, 2008 (fragments)

Lüthy and Smets (2009) Words, Lines, Diagrams, Images: Towards a History of Scientific Imagery

Crowther and Baker (2013) Understanding Illustrations in Early Modern Astronomy Texts.

9. Modelling

Readings for the seminar: to be completed with proposals from students

R. Giere, Scientific perspectivism, Chicago University Press, 2006 (fragments, TBA)

10. Scientific imagination

Readings for the seminar (to be completed with proposals from the students)

Holton, G. (1996). On the art of scientific imagination. Daedalus125(2), 183-208.

11. Craft knowledge

Reading for the seminar (to be completed with proposals from the students)

Student contribution TBA

12. Thing knowledge

Readings for the seminar

Baird, D. (2003). Thing knowledge: outline of a materialist theory for experiments. The philosophy of scientific experimentation. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh.

Radder, H. (2003). Technology and theory in experimental science. In The philosophy of scientific experimentation (pp. 152-173). University of Pittsburgh Press

13. Agency of beyond

Readings for the seminar

Salanskis, J. M. (2014),  Some notions of action. In Science after the Practice Turn in the Philosophy, History, and Social Studies of Science,  Routledge, 52-65.

Gooding, D., Putting agency back into experiment, in In Science after the Practice Turn in the Philosophy, History, and Social Studies of Science, Routledge

14. Recapitulation: what remains of the theory?

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