Skip to main content

This is your Donation message.

2017-2018 Undergraduate 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, history of the South, African-American history, ancient science and mathematics, as well as 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 enter the work force. The master's degree with its multidisciplinary breadth is appropriate for those interested in pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (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.

Requirements for the Minor

The minor is twelve semester hours and must include one philosophy of science course and one history of science course, or equivalent.

If used to fulfill the HPS minor, none of these courses may also be used to fulfill liberal studies or major degree requirements.

Some of these courses have prerequisites; students should check with the department that offers the course. A grade of "C–" or better must be earned in each course. Listed below are some of the classes that may be used to fulfill the minor. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all possible courses one can take to fulfill the minor requirements. Students should contact Shannon Tucker in the History and Philosophy of Science Program at (850) 644-9121 or by e-mail at with questions about any other possible courses that may be used to fulfill minor requirements. Descriptions of the course suggestions listed below may be found in the individual department chapters of this General Bulletin.

AMH 4630 North American Environmental History (3)

AMH 4634 Florida Environmental History (3)

ANT 2511 Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Prehistory (3)

ANT 4553 The Great Apes (3)

ANT 4586 Human Evolution (3)

BSC 1005 General Biology for Non-Majors (3)

BSC 2010 Biological Science I (3)

HIS 3464 History of Science (3)

HIS 3491 Medicine and Society (3)

HIS 4930 Special Topics in History (3)

ISC 3076 Science, Technology, and Society (3)

PCB 3043 General Ecology (3)

PCB 4674 Evolution (3)

PHI 2100 Reasoning & Critical Thinking (3)

PHI 2620 Environmental Ethics (3)

PHI 3130 Introduction to Symbolic Logic (3)

PHI 3400 History and Philosophy of Science (3)

PSB 2000 Intro to Brain and Behavior (3)

PSB 4461 Hormones and Behavior (3)

REL 3145 Gender and Religion (3)

REL 3180 Bioethics (3)

REL 3493 Religion and Science (3)

REL 4359 Special Topics in Asian Religions (3)

WOH 4235 Disease, Race & Environment (3)

Note: Additional prerequisites or corequisites for these courses may be required by the respective department in which they are offered. Please see the course listings found in the academic department sections of the current graduate or undergraduate edition of the General Bulletin at

Definition of Prefixes

HPS—History and Philosophy of Science

IFS—Interdisciplinary Florida State

Undergraduate Courses

HPS 3313. The History of Sexual Science (3). This course examines the history of attempts to build a science around human sexual behavior, more specifically, how the project of building a "sexual science" (scientia sexualis) was predicated on the idea that, by nature, human beings have a "sexuality" that can be expressed or repressed. The course asks "How has science served to define what counts as 'normal' sexual behavior?" and "How has the discourse of scientific 'sexuality' participated in explicitly political projects?"

HPS 3320. Screening the Scientific Life: Cinema and the Cultural Image of Science (3). This course examines how cinema has provided a unique framework for wrestling with the implications of the modern scientific enterprise, examining how easily scientific rationality can be harnessed to both moral and immoral ends and what kind of world that science has produced. By probing a variety of genres - including biography, documentary, historical drama, science fiction, political satire, and horror - this course observes the cinematic and cultural desire to make sense of science. A critical element of the course is diversity in the Western culture through the lens of race, class, gender, and ethnicity.

HPS 3323. History and Philosophy of Environmental Science (3). This course examines the development of public health and the history of medicine in the United States from the colonial period to the present. The course examines changes in medical knowledge, the medical profession, governmental responsibilities, public responses; how individuals accept, modify, or reject medical authority; how race, class, gender, and ethnicity shape health practices and the delivery of medical care; how we protect the health of a community; and what constitutes a public hazard.

HPS 4260. Empiricism Before Science: Religion, Natural History, and Natural Philosophy (3). This course adopts a historiographical perspective and explores the idiosyncratic projects, socio-cultural contexts, and theological horizons of early modern natural philosophy and natural history. Topics draw on primary and secondary sources and include the role of "spirits" in corpuscular philosophy and the place of "monsters" in the natural world.

IFS 2011. Empire and Revolution in Cold War Latin America (3). This course is designed to familiarize students with the history, current state of research, and continued relevance of what historian Greg Grandin terms as Latin America's "long Cold War;" that is, the political, social, and economic history of Latin America after World War II. It pays special attention to issues of revolution and empire, encouraging students to critically explore and engage the intimate connections between the local, national, and transnational manifestations of the Cold War in Latin America.

Graduate Courses

HPS 5340. Freud and the Invention of the Modern Mind (3).

HPS 5345. Power, Knowledge and Control: Foucault and the History of the Human Sciences (3).

HPS 5900r. Directed Individual Study (1–4). (S/U grade only.)

For listings relating to graduate coursework for thesis, dissertation, and master's and doctoral examinations and defense, consult the Graduate Bulletin.