Invisible Philosophy of Science

Paranal Observatory, Chile

Essay Competition

Call for Papers



The Journal of the International Society for

the History of Philosophy of Science




Word limit                               5000 words

Deadline                                  March 15, 2018


* Please mention the essay competition in your cover letter.

* Winning essays will be published in HOPOS.

* Rules and Procedures (click here).


Editor (Final Decisions)
Lydia Patton (Virginia Tech)

Associate Editors
Elisabeth Nemeth (University of Vienna)
Peter McLaughlin (University of Heidelberg)

Review Board
The Editorial Board of HOPOS


Steven Shapin emphasizes the “invisible technician” in the history of science, including Robert Boyle’s experiments “by others’ hands”, through the labor of instrument-makers, technicians, and craftspeople (1989. “The Invisible Technician,” American Scientist 77 (6): 554-563). <Link to Shapin’s paper> Shapin encourages readers to see science as an effect produced by causes, some of which are invisible in scientific reports or artefacts.  History of science is a way to reveal those causes.

HOPOS seeks work that applies this method to the history of the philosophy of science. The history of the philosophy of science unearths complex and partly buried historical roots of the philosophy of science, and reveals how they are intertwined with the networks and traditions of science and philosophy of science. Submitted essays should contribute original scholarship that analyzes these networks in philosophy of science – including social and political structures, theories, or concepts.

HOPOS encourages submissions that engage with any aspect of the philosophy of science, including work in any location and focusing on any scientific practice or theory. Ideally, submissions analyze history of philosophy of science as a practical enterprise that can contribute to understanding the human situation and to solving problems.


From an historical standpoint, the discipline of the philosophy of science is not exhausted by a list of the questions, texts, and concepts that constitute the current discipline.

Some relevant hidden elements in the history of philosophy of science are political or social.  To take a general and very familiar example, it’s been argued that the threat of nuclear war partly motivated the space race, which influenced funding decisions in science, which in turn had an impact on the prevalence of philosophy of physics in 1980s and 1990s philosophy of science. While neither nuclear war nor the space race are part of philosophy of science proper, both had an influence on the development and structure of the discipline – an influence that may or may not be explicit in the texts written in philosophy of science during that time.

The history of science itself has a sometimes hidden influence on the philosophy of science. New experimental techniques and scientific instruments, the establishment of societies, institutes, and labs, and the development of public (university-based) and private scientific institutions and groups has had an influence on the philosophy of science, including on what counts as part of the philosophy of science.

The roots of the science of economics are entangled with the development of agricultural science, political economy, probability and statistics, and  related disciplines. Developments in economic thinking, in turn, have influenced positions in the philosophy of science. The history of the reception of economic thought in philosophy of science is not often studied, and historical discoveries can be made here.

There are communities of researchers whose work is not often studied, but who have had an impact on the development of philosophy of science and, especially, on its political import. Latin American positivism, a movement based on (what is arguably) philosophy of science that was explicitly employed to found institutions that currently govern a substantial percentage of the world’s human population, is very little studied in Anglophone history and philosophy of science.

Finally, we have noted recently that the journal does not feature work on the history of the contemporary discipline of philosophy of biology. We would welcome work in this area.

There are, of course, myriad factors that influence the development of any discipline. Disciplines are human products and the texts and theories produced arise from complex sources. The above are examples, but this is far from an exhaustive list.

If your current work illuminates a text, argument, theory, figure, group, society, or institution of the philosophy of science, from an angle that reveals a hidden or under-studied network of influence or motivation, and uses that analysis to advance our understanding of the philosophy of science, it is a candidate for the essay competition. We welcome submissions of all work that meets these criteria.

Address questions to: hoposjournal[at]gmail[dot]com.