Philosophical work in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science tends to be strongly integrated with the natural and social sciences and with mathematics. This approach springs from a tradition rooted in the scientific revolution of the late 16th and 17th centuries. Many topics of contemporary interest in fields ranging from epistemology and the methodology of inquiry to the structure of the social contract were first posed during this period, by philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, Newton, Berkeley, and Hume, often in close engagement with scientific developments of the time. These authors prompted 18th century reactions ranging from the common sense naturalism of Thomas Reid to the towering monument of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. This tradition continues into the 19th and early 20th centuries in the work of neo-Kantians such as Cassirer and the ‘scientific philosophers’ of the Vienna Circle (Carnap) and the Berlin School (Reichenbach) -- all of them working to engage and assimilate the dramatic developments in the mathematics and science of their own day. The same period witnessed the beginnings of ‘analytic philosophy’ in Moore and Russell, with the formal language investigations of Frege and the early Wittgenstein, and the ordinary language investigations of Austin and the late Wittgenstein. The current flowering of this tradition leads into the work of seminal late 20th century figures, such as Quine and Putnam, and to contemporary studies in general philosophy of science surrounding fundamental issues of confirmation, explanation, scientific realism, and the like.
The department’s interests include the history of philosophy since the early modern period; the history of science and mathematics; methodological, conceptual and foundational issues in contemporary mathematics, statistics, linguistics, psychology, biology, physics, and elsewhere; and naturalized approaches to many other areas of philosophy, such as ethics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and social and political philosophy. These undertakings themselves inspire self-conscious examination of meta-philosophical issues, in which various forms of naturalism figure prominently, and are often compared and contrasted with transcendental methods, conceptual analysis, ordinary language philosophy, and therapeutic approaches.
Against this backdrop, many faculty and students here pursue more technical specializations in five active Research Groups:
Some of these Groups oversee an Emphasis within the LPS PhD program. These emphases allow students to include graduate seminars in the sciences and in mathematics in their course of study.
LPS enjoys strong cooperative relations with UCI's Department of Philosophy; in particular, the two units jointly administer a single graduate program leading to the Ph.D. in Philosophy. LPS also has strong connections with several science departments, including mathematics, physics, biology, computer science, economics and mathematical behavioral sciences.