CFP: 3rd Annual Notre Dame HPSTV Conference: Reasoning in the Historical Sciences

Submission deadline: February 9, 2022

Conference date(s):
March 25, 2022 - March 26, 2022

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

John J. Reilly Center, University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, United States

Topic areas


Conference Theme: "Reasoning in the Historical Sciences"

Please note that we are only accepting abstracts from graduate students.

We have extended the deadline for submissions to February 9, 2022.

Invited Speakers:

Adrian Currie (University of Exeter)
Nora Mills Boyd (Siena College)
Max Dresow (University of Minnesota)
Meira Gold (York University)

Understanding scientific explanation is an enduring task for philosophers and historians of science. Despite early attempts to unify scientific explanation, it is now largely recognized that the historical sciences-- a diverse group that (arguably) includes archaeology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, cosmology, and/or climate science-- may appeal to different patterns of explanation than the experimental sciences. Beyond explanation, the historical sciences and experimental sciences may also differ in how they make predictions, model data, gather and analyze evidence, confirm theories, and incorporate values. The methodological differences between historical and experimental science may motivate pluralism with respect to scientific method and justification. However, it has been argued that these differences reflect the limitations of the historical sciences. These limitations could stem from an inability to intervene on their subject matter experimentally, a difficulty in reaching universal laws, and/or a focus on singular events in the deep past. To further explore these issues, the graduate students of the University of Notre Dame’s History and Philosophy of Science Ph.D. program, administered by the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, will convene a two day conference on March 25-26, 2022 for the purposes of exploring questions concerning reasoning in the historical sciences.

The conference will consist of invited speakers as well as graduate student submissions. Depending on time and interest, there may also be a professional development workshop on how lessons from the history and philosophy of the historical sciences can be integrated into the science classroom and (vice versa) how questions and case studies from the historical sciences can be integrated into the history and philosophy of science curriculum.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

- Is there a principled distinction between the patterns of explanation used in the historical sciences and experimental sciences?

- Can natural or quasi-random experiments provide evidence of the same quality as controlled laboratory experiments?

- What is the role of Bayesianism in the historical sciences?

- How is ‘smoking gun’ evidence used in the historical sciences, and what is its relation to crucial experiments?

- How can accounts of explanation in the historical sciences be expanded to address understanding?

- How are models and simulations used in the historical sciences?

- How can case studies from the history or practice of the historical sciences help address these questions?

- How have modes of reasoning regarding a particular problem developed diachronically?

- Which theoretical virtues and non-empirical values play a role in reasoning in the historical sciences?

- How have non-empirical contexts (political, economic, etc) influenced reasoning in the historical sciences?

- How can an understanding of the history and philosophy of the historical sciences be used to improve science education, and how can educators incorporate such material into their classrooms?

- Are there case studies of fruitful interaction between historians and philosophers of science and historical scientists?

We welcome graduate students submissions from any field, but with a preference for history, philosophy, science studies, and the historical sciences themselves. Abstracts of 500 words or less suitable for a 20 minute presentation should be submitted through EasyChair: The deadline for submission is Wednesday February 9, 2022. Confirmation of receipt of your submission will be provided. Acceptance decisions will be sent out by the end of January. We intend to hold the conference in person, but speakers may be asked to present virtually if there are extenuating circumstances. For more information or questions about the conference, please email

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