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Learning From Empirical Approaches to HPS 2019

July 25 – 27, 2019

Institute of Philosophy & Leibniz Center for Science and Society
Leibniz University Hannover
Hannover, Germany


In recent years, historians and philosophers of science have taken an empirical turn in their own work, conducting surveys and interviews, embedding themselves in scientific research groups as both observers and participants, designing and conducting new experiments, replicating historically important experiments, and developing computational approaches to questions in the history & philosophy of science. Such approaches connect to the increased attention for scientific practice, where a number of questions concerning methodological and epistemological aspects of scientific inquiry remain open. For instance, how well do the proposed philosophical accounts capture scientific practice? What is the impact of social, cultural, cognitive, and institutional factors on the generation of knowledge and its efficiency? In response to this gap, philosophers of science have begun to utilize empirical and computational methods, aiming to provide more well-grounded and systematic insights into actual behaviors and patterns and more reliable normative accounts of scientific inquiry.

Three exemplary perspectives from which philosophers can gain insights about scientific practice are:

(1) philosophers engaging with scientists in the laboratory on the boundaries of their disciplines; (2) qualitative empirical methods; (3) computational methods. These three approaches will play a central part at the conference. We want to bring together researchers from within and outside Europe to explore established methods for engaging with scientific practice, as well as to critically engage with the newest methods and results. Contributors should address how the methods they use serve philosophical aims and help to answer their research questions. Central questions to be addressed include: What can HPS learn from interviews and surveys? How is “HPS in the lab” different from the sociology of science? Which questions in HPS can be answered using empirical methods? Which cannot? How do empirical methods need to be adapted to answer philosophically relevant questions? What are the benefits and limitations of the various methods in philosophical inquiry? How does HPS relate to, and what can it learn from, what can be called “the science of science” – the study of various aspects of science and its practitioners? And how does expanding methods and methodologies change the field of HPS?

Invited speakers:

Hanne Andersen (University of Copenhagen)
Colin Allen (University of Pittsburgh)
Sophia Efstathiou (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Joyce C. Havstad (Oakland University)
Miles MacLeod (Universiteit Twente)
Dunja Šešelja (Ruhr Universität Bochum & LMU München)
Jessey Wright (Stanford University)

Invited commentators:

Bennett Holman (Yonsei University)
Lisa Osbeck (University of West Georgia)
Torsten Wilholt (Leibniz University Hannover)

Submission Guidelines:

We have room on the program for ten contributed presentations (30 minutes). Please submit an abstract of no more than 1000 words with EasyChair. The deadline for submissions was January 31, 2019.

Organizing Committee:

Nora Hangel (University of Konstanz)
Thomas Reydon (Leibniz University Hannover)
Torsten Wilholt (Leibniz University Hannover)
David Stöllger (Leibniz University Hannover)


Conference.program (July 24, 2019)

Conference.program+abstracts (July 24, 2019)


The conference will be held at the Institute of Philosophy (Conference rooms: B313 & B410), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Im Moore 21 (Hinterhaus/ rear house), 30167 Hannover, Germany.

Directions from Hanover’s central station can be found here.

Useful information:

There are a multitude of canteens, restaurants, foodstores, cafes and ATMs in proximity to the venue. We provide turn-by-turn directions to the local main street and to the canteens.


For further questions please write to

This conference is supported by:





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