CSUS History and Philosophy of Science Program

A CPNS Program, in cooperation with the Department of History 

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In response to increasing student interest in science’s latest answers to the Big Questions, and the growing importance of science in today’s knowledge economy, Sacramento State will join the ranks of top-tier universities offering History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) programs, launching its own HPS Program in fall 2014.

"Sac State Initiative Combines Science, History and Philosophy"

  • Sacramento State News Article

"Program Cultivates Critical Thinking"

  • State Hornet News Article

In collaboration with the Department of History, with the expertise of its many faculty with strong publication and teaching records in the areas of history of science, history of medicine, and history of technology, Sacramento State’s HPS Program will be a joint initiative bridging the College of Arts and Letters with the Center for Philosophy and the Natural Sciences (CPNS) in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. This partnership will enable Sacramento State’s HPS Program to leverage CPNS’s international team of research fellows, strong research and publication record in philosophy and the natural sciences (including articles in Nature, Foundations of Physics, and other top journals, as well as numerous books from publishers including Oxford University Press, Springer, etc.) and grant funding in philosophy of science (approximately $1 million since 2008) into strong courses, research internships, advising, and programmatic offerings for Sacramento State students.

Sacramento State's HPS Program will be further strengthened by its integration with other CPNS curricular and research initiatives, including:

  • CPNS Graduate Courses at U.C. Berkeley - Graduate Theological Union: Starting this spring, in collaboration with CPNS's Program for Science and Human Values, U.C. Berkeley-GTU will be offering occasional graduate courses that explore the history and philosophy of religion and modern science. The first of these graduate courses, 'Orthodox Christianity and Modern Science: A Dialogue with the Western Scholastic Tradition' will be taught by CPNS Director Michael Epperson this spring.

  • Synergies in Applied Philosophy and Science (SynAPS) Network: An affiliation of research centers spanning diverse disciplines in the sciences, humanities, engineering, and the arts, this network includes CPNS at California State University, Sacramento, the Synthesis Center in the School of Arts, Media & Engineering at Arizona State University, and the Program for Computer Aided Architectural Design at ETH Zurich. We focus on those disciplines where engineering and technology serve as a bridge between experience and scientific formal structures and conceptual frameworks—a bridge reflective of the larger Aristotelian bridge between scientific theories, whose virtues are logical and intuitive reasoning, and scientific practice, whose virtues are technology, art, and in the broadest sense, an ecology of practical knowledge.

    2015: CSUS - UC BERKELEY SynAPS CORE TEAM: Meetings take place weekly on Tuesdays, 3-6 pm, at the Klein Vision Sciences Lab, UC Berkeley. Michael Epperson, CPNS-CSUS; Stan Klein, Klein Lab, UC Berkeley; Henry Stapp, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Menas Kafatos, Dept. of Physics, Chapman University.

For more information on the History and Philosophy of Science Program at Sacramento State, contact: Aaron Cohen, Dept. of History, or Michael Epperson, Director, Center for Philosophy and the Natural Sciences.


HIST / PHSC 107 - History of the Physical Sciences

In this course, we will study the historical evolution of the intuitive (i.e., in the Greek sense of careful koinos nous or careful ‘common sense’--classically logically reasonable) conceptual foundations of modern physics, including the special and general theories of relativity and the latest interpretations of quantum mechanics. We will trace this evolution from its origins in ancient natural philosophy, through the medieval and early modern periods and the Enlightenment, up to the present day.

HIST 104A - History of Ancient Science

This course offers an examination of the historical foundations and evolution of ancient science, from the natural philosophy of the Presocratics to post-Aristotelian thought, with emphasis on issues relating to Greek physics, medicine, and mathematics. In particular, we will explore the ways in which the conceptual frameworks underlying ancient Greek philosophy of nature (what we call ‘science’ today) evolved into the medieval period, were later challenged by the scientific revolution of the early modern period, and then partially rehabilitated in modern science in several fundamental areas, including current theories of complex natural systems and quantum physics.

HIST 104B - History of Medieval Science (proposed)

This course explores the medieval evolution of the key conceptual frameworks underlying ancient Greek natural philosophy (what we call ‘science’ today). In particular, we will examine the ways in which this evolution was initially propelled via the translations from Greco-Islamic natural philosophy, the integration of this philosophy with Christian Latin civilization in Western Europe, and the refinement of this integration via the invention of the university in 1088. Central to our investigation will be the specific ways in which this medieval evolution of natural philosophy was foundational to the scientific revolution that followed it—i.e., the often overlooked evolution of ancient and medieval ideas within this revolution.

HIST 104C - History of Modern Physical Science (proposed)

This course explores the historical evolution of contemporary physical science from its innovative conceptual foundations in the early modern period. Along the way, we will examine the ways in which these revolutionary innovations themselves can be seen as evolutionary innovations—a history of natural philosophical inquiry and methodology that can be traced back through the medieval period to antiquity. Some of these revolutionary/evolutionary innovations include the replacement of geocentric cosmology with heliocentrism, the rise of the hypothetico-deductive ‘scientific’ method, the development of new techniques and technologies of observation, and the rise of formal mathematical models. While past historians of science had established the conventional term “Scientific Revolution” to collectively describe these innovations, modern scholarship in history and philosophy of science (HPS), which more rigorously examines both the history and the conceptual content of scientific ideas, has done much to illuminate the evolutionary character of these innovations. As a result, contemporary history and philosophy of science recognizes that the rise of modern science is understood properly not as a single historical period in time, but rather as an extensive process of formal, natural philosophical inquiry whose roots begin in antiquity and whose ascent and role in society continues to evolve.

Additional future course offerings will include topics such as:

  • Science, Technology, and Society: An Historical Perspective
  • Introduction to the History of Science
  • History of Medieval and Early Modern Science
  • History of Modern Science – From the 17th Century to the Present
  • Gender Issues in Science and Technology
  • The History of Time: From the Ancient World to the 21st Century
  • The History of the Atom: From the Ancient World to the 21st Century
  • The History of Science in a Religious World
  • History of Science and Medicine in the U.S.
  • History of Technology in the U.S.
  • History of Ecology and Environmentalism



Timothy Eastman, a space physicist at NASA Goddard, and Senior Research Fellow at CPNS specializing in space plasma and plasma astrophysics, will give a series of 2 lectures on the history and philosophy of modern cosmology and recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the origin of the universe.

November 5, 2014 - "Cosmic Agnosticism: Current Problems and Alternative Perspectives in Cosmology" - California State University, Sacramento (Public lecture for a general audience.)
7:00 - 8:30 pm, Petris Room, University Library (3rd floor, Room 3023)

November 6, 2014 - "The Plasma Universe: Gravity Plus Electromagnetism"
Department of Physics Colloquium - California State University, Sacramento
4:00 - 5:20, Mendocino Hall 1015


Professor Robert Geyer of the University of Lancaster, will give a lecture on complexity theory and public policy.

November 19, 2014 - "Using Complexity to Help Understand and Manage Public Policy" - California State University, Sacramento.
5:30 - 7:30 pm, Petris Room, University Library (3rd floor, Room 3023)



As part of Sacramento State's History and Philosophy of Science Initiative, CPNS Undergraduate Student Research Fellows develop and implement interdisciplinary research projects bridging empirical inquiry within the fields of the natural sciences and mathematics (NSM) into cross-connection with the field of history and philosophy of science (HPS). These faculty supervised student research projects give undergraduates crucial experience in the synthesis of new ideas and their proper investigation via both empirical study and analysis of scholarly literature in the natural sciences, philosophy of science, and history of science. Beyond these goals, the CPNS Student Research Initiative provides students with the unique opportunity to network and collaborate with both CPNS Graduate Research Fellows and CPNS Faculty Research Fellows across multiple institutions, both nationally and internationally. Student Research Coordinators earn 3 units as a College of Arts and Letters Internship (ALS 195). Click here for our 2014-2015 Project: "Tesla's Oscillator."


SRI Student Coordinators:

Elizabeth Keys, Physics Major
Christopher Keys, Physics Major

SRI Faculty Advisor:

Michael Epperson, CPNS


CPNS Graduate Student Liaisons Michael Fitzpatrick at Stanford University (Department of Philosophy) and Miles Andrews at San Francisco State University (Department of Philosophy) provide mentorship and advising to Sacramento State undergraduates interested in exploring graduate studies. As CPNS Graduate Student Research Fellows, Michael and Miles will also be assisting in the formation of a Sacramento - Bay Area graduate student community in philosophy of science and HPS studies, which will be open to any interested Sacramento State undergraduates.


Michael Fitzpatrick is a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at Stanford University (Fall 2014) and a CPNS graduate student research fellow currently working on problems in metaphysics, particularly in issues of parthood, causality, evolution, as well as philosophy of language topics on meaning. His essay, "The Metaphysics of Evolution: Against Ted Sider's 'Against Parthood,'" was published in the most recent edition of Process Studies. He has given talks at various philosophy
conferences along the west coast on the debate between realism and anti-realism, as well as the

relationship between philosophy, the sciences, and human life. He is most prominently influenced by the philosophical work of Baruch Spinoza, Alfred North Whitehead, and Alain Badiou, and is currently working on an essay comparing the metaphysical systems of Whitehead and Badiou. He will be participating in the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Summer Internship program at UC Davis under the direction of Dr. Adam Sennet for summer 2014, and in fall 2014 will begin his Ph.D program in philosophy at Stanford University.
  Miles Andrews earned his BA in philosophy and religious studies at CSUS via a specialized joint-major program, and will begin his graduate studies in the Department of Philosophy at San Francisco State University in fall 2014. His paper "Divine Hiddenness and Affective Forecasting," which incorporates findings in the field of cognitive psychology, was published in Res Cogitans in 2014. Miles' philosophical interests lie mostly in the philosophy of religion, specifically religious epistemology. He is particularly
interested in recent scholarship exploring the cognitive science of religion, and his graduate work will
focus on the areas of epistemology, political philosophy, and the intersection of philosophy of science and religion (e.g., the philosophy of space and time and the fine-tuning argument.).


If you are interested in the history and philosophy of science and are dissatisfied with increasingly carnival-like popular discussions of topics like quantum cosmology and ‘multiverses’ that you find on The Science Channel, then join this faculty moderated, weekly evening discussion group. See www.csus.edu/cpns/discussion.html for more details. The Student Discussion Group Coordinator earns 2 units as a College of Arts and Letters Internship (ALS 195).

Michael Epperson

Founding Director of the Center for Philosophy and the Natural Sciences, Research Professor, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, California State University Sacramento

Elias Zafiris

Senior Research Fellow in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics, Institute of Mathematics, National University of Athens, Greece

Karim Bschir Chair for Philosophy, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Stuart Kauffman Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Mathematics & Senior Researcher, Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont; External Professor, The Santa Fe Institute
Roland Omnès Professor Emeritus, Theoretical Physics University of Paris XI CNRS – French National Center for Scientific Research
Timothy E. Eastman Physicist
NASA - Sciences and Exploration Directorate &
Director, Plasmas International, Silver Spring MD
David R. Finkelstein Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics
Georgia Institute of Technology
Mohsen Shiri-Garakani Associate Professor, Department of Physics
Pace University
Spyridon A. Koutroufinis Institut für Philosophie, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte
Technische Universität Berlin
Henry P. Stapp Physicist
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
George W. Shields Professor, Chair, Department of Philosophy
Kentucky State University
Ronny Desmet Senior Research Fellow, Center for Logic and the Philosophy of Science, Vrije Universiteit, Brussels
Jorge L. Nobo Professor, Department of Philosophy
Washburn University
William M. Kallfelz Asst. Professor, Department of Philosophy
Mississippi State University
CPNS Student Research Fellows
Michael Fitzpatrick CPNS Graduate Research Fellow
Department of Philosophy, Stanford University
Miles Andrews CPNS Graduate Research Fellow
Department of Philosophy, San Francisco State University
Alina Hagar CPNS Undergraduate Research Fellow
Student Coordinator - Ultimate Questions Discussion Group
Philosophy Major
California State University, Sacramento
Elizabeth Keys CPNS Undergraduate Research Fellow
Student Coordinator - HPS Student Research Initiative
Physics Major
California State University, Sacramento
Christopher Keys CPNS Undergraduate Research Fellow
Student Coordinator - HPS Student Research Initiative
Physics Major
California State University, Sacramento


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