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Hasok Chang

Hans Rausing Professor of History and Philosophy of Science

Wolfson Research Professor (British Academy), 2017–20

Research interests

History and philosophy of chemistry and physics from the 18th century onward; philosophy of scientific practice; other topics in the philosophy of science, including realism, pluralism, pragmatism, measurement, and evidence.

Between 2017 and 2020 (on research leave), I will be focusing on the completion of two books: How Does A Battery Work?, and Realism for Realistic People: A New Pragmatist Philosophy of Science. During this period I will not be carrying out my normal teaching and administrative duties, but I will continue to supervise PhD students.

Professional service and academic networks

Selected publications

(For a complete list of publications and links, see

Is Water H2O? Evidence, Pluralism and Realism, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science (Dordrecht: Springer, 2012)

Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress, Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)

An Element of Controversy: The Life of Chlorine in Science, Medicine, Technology and War, co-editor with Catherine Jackson (BSHS Monographs, No. 13, British Society for the History of Science, 2007): a collection of studies by undergraduate students at University College London

'Operationalism', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online, published in July 2009)

'The Myth of the Boiling Point' (online hypertext paper with video links), first posted on 18 October 2007

Selected presentations

'Pragmatist Coherence as the Source of Truth and Reality', at the Aristotelian Society, London, 9 January 2017

'Who Cares About the History of Science?', Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Prize Lecture, Royal Society, 10 May 2016

'Science Meets Philosophy', a series of 12 lectures for EBS TV, South Korea, broadcast in 2014

'History and Philosophy of Science in the Service of Scientific Pluralism', Fernando Gil International Prize Lecture (for Is Water H2O?), at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, 20 March 2014 

'Putting Science Back Into History of Science', BSHS Presidential Address, given as the opening plenary lecture at the 24th International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, at the University of Manchester, 22 July 2013

'Is Chemistry Just Applied Physics?', plenary lecture at the 2013 Summer Symposium of the International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry, Montevideo, Uruguay, 31 July 2013

'Foresight in Scientific Method', Darwin Lecture, Darwin College, Cambridge, 8 February 2013

'Can Historical Experiments Improve Science Education?', plenary lecture at the First Asian Regional Conference of the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching (IHPST) Group, Seoul, 19 October 2012

'Scientific Pluralism and the Mission of History and Philosophy of Science', inaugural lecture, University of Cambridge, 11 October 2012

'A Case for Scientific Pluralism', plenary lecture at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, 1 March 2010

'Practicing 18th-Century Science Today', inaugural lecture at University College London, 13 May 2009

'The Philosophical Grammar of Scientific Practice', keynote address at the first biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice, at the University of Twente, 23 August 2007

'Inventing Temperature', Lakatos Award Lecture, at the London School of Economics, 18 April 2007

'Ontological Principles and the Intelligibility of Epistemic Activities', keynote lecture at the conference 'Philosophical Perspectives on Scientific Understanding', Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 26 August 2005