Home > Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science

Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science

How to contact us

Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science

Lakatos Building
London School of Economics
7 Portugal Street 

London WC2A 2HJ

Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 7573
Fax: +44 (0)20 7955 6869

Email: philcent@lse.ac.uk

Office hours: Mon-Fri 10:15am - 2:15pm


Why not visit?




Please visit the LSE Philosophy Calendar to see all events organised at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS), the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, and the Forum for European Philosophy (FEP).

We also maintain an archive page of conferences we've organised over the past few years.

You can access recordings of many of our events on the LSE Philosophy Watch and Listen page.

We look forward to welcoming you.  

Photo of Dan Hausman

17 May – Prof Daniel Hausman to become Lachmann Fellow

We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Daniel Hausman to a Lachmann Fellowship, starting September 2017.

Daniel M. Hausman is the Herbert A. Simon and Hilldale Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A founding editor of the journal, Economics and Philosophy his research has centered on epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues lying at the boundaries between economics and philosophy. His most recent books, are Preference, Value, Choice and Welfare (2012), Valuing Health: Well-Being, Freedom, and Suffering  (2015), and Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy, 3rd ed. (co-authored with Michael McPherson and Debra Satz, 2017).

From September 2017, Prof Hausman will take up a one-year Ludwig M. Lachmann Professorial Research Fellowship.

Whilst here, on 4 October, Prof Hausman will deliver the prestigious Auguste Comte Memorial Lecture. These public lectures, named in honour of Auguste Comte, are delivered annually by some of the world’s leading philosophers and social scientists. In this year’s Comte lecture, titled “Is social science possible”, Prof Hausman will address a perennial philosophical question: can enquiries into social phenomena be scientific?

We look forward to welcoming Professor Hausman to the Centre, and to his Auguste Comte Memorial Lecture on 4 October.

Matthew Adler

7 April, 2017 – Prof Matthew Adler to take up Lachmann Fellowship

We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Matthew Adler to a Lachmann Fellowship, starting September 2017.

Matthew D. Adler is the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy at Duke University. His scholarship is interdisciplinary, drawing from law, welfare economics and normative ethics. Prof Adler’s publications include New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis (co-authored with Eric Posner) and Well-Being and Fair Distribution: Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis, which systematically defends the “social welfare function” as a framework for policy analysis.

For two years from September 2017, Prof Adler will be taking up a Ludwig M. Lachmann Professorial Research Fellowship. He will spend a quarter of the academic year at LSE in 2017–18 and 2018–9 and will teach PhD-level seminars in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method.

We look forward to welcoming Professor Adler to the Department and Centre.

LSE Literary Festival 2017

19 January, 2017 – Philosophy at the 2017 LSE Literary Festival

CPNSS will be hosting two special philosophy events at this year's LSE Literary Festival.

The 2017 LSE Literary Festival takes place 20–25 February. Now into its 9th year, the School’s annual literary festival features talks, discussions, film screenings and workshops with some of the world’s leading academics. The theme of this year’s festival is “Revolutions”.

On 22 FebruaryProfessor John Worrall will explore the impact of scientific revolutions on humankind’s view of itself in “The ‘Universe’ starring man?”, chaired by Professor Roman Frigg.

On 25 FebruaryProfessor J. McKenzie Alexander will chair a group of panelists in discussing the philosophical implications of scientific advancements like artificial intelligence and human enhancement in “The Future of Humanity”.

All of the LSE Literary Festival’s events are open to all and free to attend, but tickets are required. Further information is available on the festival website.

Flag of the European Union

15 December, 2016 – Videos from October's workshop on Scientific Imagination and Epistemic Representations now available

Following a successful one-day workshop on scientific imagination and epistemic representations, we're pleased to make videos of all four of the day's talks available for those who missed out.

All four videos are now available on the LSE Philosophy Youtube channel.


4 November, 2016 – Forthcoming workshop on emergence and the thermodynamic limit.

On 25 November, the CPNSS will host a workshop on emergence and the thermodynamic limit: "Emergence and the Limit: A Workshop in Philosophy of Physics".

Recent literature on emergence in physics and on foundational issues in statistical mechanics has stressed the importance or lack thereof of the thermodynamic limit. In this this workshop we will consider various case studies portraying either emergent behaviour or other important issues in statistical mechanics and assess the indispensable vs. dispensable nature of the thermodynamic limit (or other similar limits such as the continuum limit). Our goal is is make some headway in identifying the role that such limits may or may not play in understanding emergence, reversibility, etc.

Confirmed speakers include Vincent Ardourel, Eleanor Knox, Patrick McGivern and Elay Shech.

This workshop is organised by Bryan W Roberts,  Patrick McGivern and Elay Shech and is co-sponsored by the CPNSS and by the LSE Philosophy of Physics Research Group. 

Further information is available on the conference website.

Logo of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

11 October, 2016 – New SEP entry by Roman Frigg and James Nguyen

CPNSS Director, Prof Roman Frigg, and former LSE PhD student, Dr James Nguyen, have published a new Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on scientific representation.

Science provides us with representations of atoms, elementary particles, polymers, populations, genetic trees, economies, rational decisions, aeroplanes, earthquakes, forest fires, irrigation systems, and the world’s climate. It’s through these representations that we learn about the world.

This entry explores various different accounts of scientific representation, with a particular focus on how scientific models represent their target systems.

Flag of the European Union

23 September, 2016 – Forthcoming Workshop on Scientific Imagination and Epistemic Representations

On 28 October we will be hosting a workshop on scientific imagination and epistemic representation featuring talks by Prof Ruth Byrne, Prof Catharine Abell, Dr Fiora Salis and Prof Timothy Williamson.

Many philosophers of science dismiss imagination as ill-suited for scientific reasoning. The notion of imagination that they assume often coincides with that of irrational or unconstrained thought that enables us to escape reality. This idea disregards the fact that imagination seems also to provide knowledge of reality. For example, imagination seems to play a role in philosophical and scientific thought experiments, scientific modelling, counterfactual reasoning, problem solving, practical deliberations about contingent facts, and more. But how can the same mental ability enable us to escape reality and also learn about it? Four experts on imagination will address this question from the perspective of philosophy of science, epistemology, cognitive science, and aesthetics.

This event is co-sponsored by The British Society for the Philosophy of Science and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 654034.

For further information see the workshop's listing on the LSE Philosophy Events Calendar.

The Oxford Handbook of Well Being and Public Policy

8 September, 2016 – New  Oxford  Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy, edited by Matthew D. Adler and Marc Fleurbaey

Oxford University Press have published a new anthology of work on well-being public policy, edited by two of our recent affiliates, Matthew D. Adler and Marc Fleurbaey.

The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatment of the methodologies for assessing and improving governmental policy in light of well-being. Its contributors draw from welfare economics, moral philosophy, and psychology and are leading scholars in these fields.

Matthew D. Adler is the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy at Duke University. He visited the Centre in 2015 and in 2016.

Marc Fleurbaey is the Robert E. Kuenne Professor in Economics and Humanistic Studies, Professor of Public Affairs and the Center for Human Values, Princeton University. He was formerly a Lachmann fellow at the Centre.


11 July, 2016 – European Philosophy of Science Association Fellow

We’re pleased to announce the arrival of a European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA) Fellow in the Centre: Zalan Gyenis, who is visiting us during July.

The new EPSA fellowship has been set up to support the work of junior philosophers of science from Central and Eastern Europe. The CPNSS is one of thirteen leading research institutions hosting and providing sponsorship and financial support for successful fellows.

Zalan Gyenis is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Logic at the Algebra Department of Technical University of Budapest, his research focuses on Logic (algebraic logic, model theory) and topics related to interpretational problems of probability, as well as Bayesianism.

Zalan’s current research project, Investigating properties of general Bayesian learning, aims to use formal methods to analyse interpretational problems of probability including non-classical probability. Further information about this project is available on Zalan’s visitor page.

Pitcure of physicist and best-selling author, Carlo Rovelli.

16 June, 2016 – Physicist and best-selling author, Carlo Rovelli, to speak at LSE on 17 July

On 17 July the theoretical physicist and author of the best-selling Seven Brief Lessons on Physics,  Carlo Rovelli, will give a public lecture entitled "Why Physics needs Philosophy".

This public lecture forms part of Foundations 2016 and is made possible by the LSE Philosophy of Physics group.

Further information and (free) registration.


3 May, 2016 – Roman Frigg wins Bessel Research Award

Congratulations go to Roman Frigg who has won the prestigious Bessel Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award is given to recognise Roman’s accomplishments in research and to support his future work.


21 April, 2016 – Influencing reform in EU voting structure

Professor Moshé Machover's work for the Voting Power & Procedures (VPP) project has been featured as part of the LSE's research Impact series.

Professor Machover is Emeritus Professor at King's College, London and a Research Associate of the Centre. Along with Visiting Research Fellow, Rudy Fara, Professor Machover founded the VPP project with the aim of informing decision makers and their advisers, the media and the general public on key issues in voting theory, policy and its application.

As you can see from the impact case study, the work of the VPP project directly influenced the design of an EU voting system that would ensure all citizens an equal voice.


6 April, 2016 – In Search of Smart, Sustained and Inclusive Growth

On 4 April, this conference considered perspectives from Japan, China and globally, and discussed how to achieve smart, sustained and inclusive growth at a time of technological change and numerous other challenges. In attendence were Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Valdis Dombrovskis,  European Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue.

To find out more view the full programme and the transcript from Mr Dombrovskis' speech: "In Search of Growth – Growth Perspective of Europe". You can also view photos from the conference on the LSE Philosophy Flickr page.

Professor Paul Anand's new book: Happiness Explained

23 March, 2016 – New book by Paul Anand

CPNSS Research Associate, and Professor of Economics at the Open University, Paul Anand has published a new book entitled Happiness Explained

In this book, Professor Anand seeks to answer the following question: what is human happiness and how we can promote it? In answering this, the book draws upon research from economics, psychology, and philosophy, as well as a range of other disciplines, to outline a new paradigm in which human flourishing plays a central role in the assessment of national and global progress.

Discussing wide-ranging aspects, from parenting, decent employment, friendship, education, and health in old age, through to money, autonomy, and fairness, as well as personal strategies and governmental polices used in the pursuit of happiness, Happiness Explained offers a science-based understanding of human flourishing.

Further information is available on the publisher's website.

Read the latest edition of the termly LSE Philosophy Newsletter, have a look through our past newsletters and/or sign up to receive future newsletters (along with other Centre-related announcements).

Choice Group

The LSE Choice Group is a group of philosophers, political scientists and economists based mainly at the LSE and with a shared interest in the theory of rational decision making in individuals and groups and its application to economic, political and social questions.

Keep up to date with the Choice Group by signing up to their mailing list.


Managing Severe Uncertainty

In collaboration with economists and climate scientists in other departments at LSE (and elsewhere), this project has the following objectives: to examine policy decision making under conditions of severe uncertainty; to study scientific models that are both imperfect and non-linear, especially those of the climate and of climate change; to study the implications for climate policy-making of the inherent limitations we face in making predictions about relevant climate variables, in relation both to our ability to assess the impact of possible interventions and to our ethical assessment of them, and to propose techniques for dealing with these limitations.


Sigma Club

The Sigma Club is the Philosophy of Physics Project's seminar series. It hosts talks dealing with issues in the philosophy, methodology and foundations of modern physics, broadly construed. Seminars take place in the seminar room of CPNSS (LAK.2.06) on selected Mondays. Everybody is welcome to attend. 

Make sure that you don't miss out on Sigma Club meetings by sigining up to their mailing list.


BSPS London Meetings

The CPNSS hosts the annual London Meetings of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science.