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2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin

Program in History and Philosophy of Science

College of Arts and Sciences

Web Page:

Director: Michael Ruse

Florida State University offers a program in the History and Philosophy of Science, leading to an undergraduate minor or a master’s degree. The focus of the program is on the biological sciences, although we welcome applications from potential students interested in other areas of science. We take very seriously the importance of working on topics of relevance to the society in which we live, and we are strongly committed to an interdisciplinary approach, with involved faculty drawn broadly from across the university, especially the humanities and the natural sciences.

As a major university, we are able to offer opportunities for study and research in topics of particular pertinence to our region, such as racial issues, conservation and problems of pollution, and clashes between science and religion. We also have major strengths in other areas, including logic and formal methods, social philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, environmental history, history of the South, African American history, ancient science and mathematics, and evolution and ecology.

FSU has attractive competitive scholarships, and there are opportunities for research and teaching assistantships that include remission of tuition. Strong library facilities exist, and we are building further on these. We are committed to helping our students when they complete their degrees, either to further graduate work or to entering the work force. The master’s degree with its multidisciplinary breadth is appropriate for those interesting in pursuing a PhD in philosophy, history, religion or biology. It is also suitable for those undergraduates who would like to combine it with one of the traditional disciplines in our combined bachelor’s-master’s program. In all cases, we will aim to tailor individual course programs to suit students’ needs.

The Program hosts an annual conference or workshop, supported by the Werkmeister Fund. Those interested in learning more about the degree, or in enrolling, should consult our Web site and contact the office of the Director.

Degree Requirements

On entering the degree program, all students will be assigned an individualized committee of pertinent faculty to oversee their personal program. All students enrolled in the History and Philosophy of Science Program are required to take a minimum of twelve courses.

All students must engage in a significant piece of independent research. There are two options, and students will be expected to choose one after consultation with their personal committee. One option is to write an MA thesis (approximately seventy-five pages). A successfully completed thesis will count the equivalent of four courses. The second option is to write two research papers, with the intent to publish. There is no word limit (upper or lower), for this will depend on the topic and other factors. (For instance, philosophy papers are generally shorter than history papers.) A paper deemed satisfactory by the student’s committee will count the equivalent of two courses.

The remaining courses will be chosen in consultation with the personal committee, and can be taken in either history or philosophy (or some combination thereof), or in one or more of the other associated departments (religion, classics, biology, psychology, etc.).

All courses must be passed with a grade of at least “B–”, and students are expected to maintain a “B” average.

Required History Courses*

HIS 6469 Historiography and Science (3)

HIS 6500 History of Life Sciences (3)

Required Philosophy Courses*

PHI 6455 Philosophy of Biology: Basic Topics (3)

PHI 6457r Philosophy of Biology: Selected Topics (3)

Other Possible Courses*

AMH 5636 North American Environmental History (3)

EXP 5406 Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (3)

WOH 5238 Disease, Race and Environment (3)

PHI 5934r Topics in Philosophy (3)

PHI 6406r Philosophy of Science (3)

PHI 6935r Seminar in Philosophical Topics (3)

Elective Courses*

HIS 5932r Graduate Tutorial in History (1-2)

AMH 5337 US Intellectual History II: 1880 to the Present (3)

PHI 5135 Modern Logic I (3)

*Note: Course offerings vary based on the interests of the faculty; students are advised to contact the program for course offerings that are relevant and necessary for completion of their degree. For a complete listing of courses applicable and available on a semester-to-semester basis, please contact Shannon Tucker, Program Assistant, at (850) 644-9121 or visit

Definition of Prefixes

HPS—History and Philosophy of Science

Graduate Courses

HPS 5340. Freud and the Invention of the Modern Mind (3). This course explores Freud’s life, work, and legacy against the backdrop of the histories of science. The course is built around the close reading of key Freudian texts and is divided into three thematic sections. The first section, Freud as Detective, examines Freud’s case histories and clinical reflections. The second section, Freud as Archaeologist, studies Freud’s attempt to excavate the psychological complexity of everyday life. The third section, Freud as Critic, scrutinizes Freud’s macro-sociological theorizing.

HPS 5345. Power, Knowledge and Control: Foucault and the History of the Human Sciences (3). This course is built around a systematic reading of Foucault’s provocative historical and philosophical reflections on the “all-too human” history of the human and social sciences. Readings include recently-published lectures from Michael Foucault’s tenure at the College de France, as well as texts that have become classics, such as Order of Things and Discipline and Punish.

HPS 5900r. Directed Individual Study (1-4). (S/U grade only). May be repeated to a maximum of four semester hours.

HPS 5970r. Thesis (1-4). (S/U grade only). May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours.