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Stathis Psillos


  • Philosophy of Science

  • Metaphysics

  • History of Philosophy


  • Department of Philosophy & History of Science,
    University of Athens
    Panepistimioupolis-University Campus
    157 71 Athens – Greece


Department of Philosophy and History of Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Stathis Psillos received his PhD in Philosophy of Science in 1994 from King’s College London. Between 1993 and 1998 he was initially assistant editor and subsequently deputy editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Between 1995 and 1998, he was a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow, at the Dept of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics. Since 1998, he has been a Research Associate of the Centre for the Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences, London School of Economics. He joined the Dept of Philosophy and History of Science in the University of Athens, Greece, in 1999. He was among the founders of European Philosophy of Science Association and served as its first elected President (2007-2009). He is currently the editor of the journal Metascience. In 2008 he was elected member of l’Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences (AIPS). In 2007, he was co-chair of the Programme Committee for the Philosophy of Science for the World Congress of Philosophy, which took place in Seoul, South Korea, in July 2008. In 2011, he organised the 3nd congress of the European Philosophy of Science Association, in Athens. In July 2011, he was the Springer Lecturer, at the 11th International IHPST Conference, held at the University of Thessaloniki. In July 2012 he was William Evans Visiting Professor in the University of Otago, New Zealand. In March-May 2013, he delivered the Cardinal Mercier Lectures in Philosophy in the Universite Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium. He is the author and editor of 8 books (two of which have been award-winning) and over 100 papers and reviews in learned journals and edited books, mainly on scientific realism, causation, explanation and the history of philosophy of science. He has delivered more than 120 talks in seminars and conferences around the world.

In my recent work, I have aimed to develop scientific realism within a broader empiricist approach to metaphysics; an approach which can be entitled ‘neo-Humean’. Though I have outlined the contours of this idea in a number of papers and talks, my current agenda is devoted to the articulation of this perspective in a detailed, thorough, coherent and engaging way. My current project is based on the twin pillars of my research up to now: scientific realism and the metaphysics of science. I call it scientific realism with a Humean face, because it aims to show that a realist account of the scientific image of the world (one that takes science at face value and accepts that science offers us knowledge of the world) is best served by a relatively sparse or thin account of the metaphysical structure of the world (as this is revealed in our accounts of causation, properties, laws and modality). I take this metaphysical account to be broadly neo-Humean-empiricist. To many, scientific realism is best served within a broadly neo-Aristotelian account of the metaphysical fabric of the world. Going against this current, my research aims to dispel various alleged tensions between realism and empiricism, and to show that there is room for a conception of science which is epistemologically optimistic, metaphysically robust and yet sparse, that is not inflated by neo-Aristotelian regularity-enforcers.


The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Science (with Martin Curd) Second Revised and Expanded Edition, Routledge 2013

Knowing the Structure of Nature: Essays on Realism and Explanation, MacMillan-Palgrave, 2009

Science and Truth, Okto Publishers 2008 (in Greek)

The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Science (with Martin Curd) Routledge 2008 (Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2008)

Philosophy of Science A-Z, Edinburgh University Press, 2007

Logic: The Structure of Argument (with Demetris Portides and D A Anapolitanos), Nefeli 2007 (in Greek)

Causation and Explanation, Acumen (2002) & McGill-Queens University Press (2003) (Prize of the Presidents of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science for the best textbook in the Philosophy of Science)

Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth, 1999, London & New York: Routledge


“The View from Within and the View from Above: Looking at van Fraassen’s Perrin” in GONZALEZ, W. J. (ed), Representation and Models in Science: Bas van Fraassen’s Approach, Synthese Library, Springer, Dordrecht, forthcoming

“Counterfactual Reasoning, Qualitative: Philosophical Aspects” in James Wright (ed) International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd Edition, Elsevier, forthcoming.

Semirealism or Neo-Aristotelianism?, Erkenntnis, 78: 29-38, 2013

What is General Philosophy of Science? Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 43: 93-103, 2012

‘Causal-descriptivism and the reference of theoretical terms’ in Athanassios Raftopoulos & Peter Machamer (eds) Perception, Realism and the Problem of Reference, Cambridge University Press, pp. 212-238, 2012

‘Anti-nominalistic Scientific Realism: A Defence’, in Alexander Bird, Brian Ellis, and Howard Sankey (eds) Properties, Powers and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism, Routledge pp. 53-69, 2012

‘Adding Modality to Ontic Structuralism: An Exploration and Critique’, in E. Landry and D. Rickles (eds), Structure, Object, and Causality, Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science; Dordrecht: Springer, pp.169-185, 2012

‘One Cannot be Just a Little Bit Realist: Putnam and van Fraassen’ in James Robert Brown (ed.) Philosophy of Science: The Key Thinkers, Continuum, pp.188-212, 2012

‘Reason and Science’ in Cristina Amoretti & Nicla Vassallo (eds) Reason and Rationality, Ontos Verlag, 2012

‘Moving Molecules Above the Scientific Horizon: On Perrin’s Case for Realism’ Journal for General Philosophy of Science, December 2011

‘An Explorer upon Untrodden Ground: Peirce on Abduction’ Handbook of the History of Logic Volume 10 — Inductive Logic (John Woods, Dov Gabbay και Stephan Hartmann eds.). Elsevier, pp.115-148, 2011

‘Making Contact with Molecules: On Perrin and Achinstein’ Philosophy of Science Matters: the Philosophy of Peter Achinstein, Gregory J Morgan (ed.) Oxford University Press, pp. 177-190, 2011

‘Scientific Realism with a Humean Face’ in Juha Saatsi & Steven French (eds) The Continuum Companion to Philosophy of Science, Continuum, pp. 75-95, 2011

‘The Scope and Limits of the No-Miracles Argument’ in Friedrich Stadler et al. (eds) The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective, Vol. II, pp. 23-35, Springer 2011

‘The Idea of Mechanism’ in Phyllis McKay, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds) Causality in the Sciences, Oxford University Press, pp.771-788, 2011

‘Regularities all the way down: Thomas Brown’s Philosophy of Causation’ in Causation and Modern Philosophy, (Routledge Advances in the History of Philosophy), Keith Allen και Tom Stoneham (eds) Routledge, pp.220-241, 2011

‘Choosing the Realist Framework’, Synthese, 190: 301-316, 2011

‘Living with the Abstract: Realism and Models’, Synthese 190: 3-17, 2011

‘Is the History of Science the Wasteland of False Theories?’ in Adapting Historical Knowledge Production to the Classroom, P. V. Kokkotas et al. (eds) Rotterdam & Boston: Sense Publishers, pp.17-36, 2011

‘On Reichenbach’s Argument for Scientific Realism’ Synthese 181: 23-40, 2011

‘Scientific Realism: Between Platonism and Nominalism’, Philosophy of Science 77: 947-958, 2010

‘Grasping at Realist Straws’, Critical Notice of of Kyle Stanford: Exceeding Our Grasp, Metascience 18: 363-370, 2009

‘Causal Pluralism’, in Robrecht Vanderbeeken & Bart D’Hooghe (eds) Worldviews, Science and Us: Studies of Analytical Metaphysics: A Selection of Topics From a Methodological Perspective, World Scientific Publishers, pp. 131-151, 2009

‘The A Priori: Between Conventions and Implicit Definitions, (with Demetra Christopoulou) in The A Priori and itsRole in Philosophy, Nikola Kompa, Christian Nimtz, Christian Suhm (eds) Mentis, pp.205-220, 2009

‘Regularity Theories’ in Oxford Handbook of Causation, Helen Beebee, Peter Menzies & Chris Hitchcock (eds) Oxford University Press, pp.131-157, 2009

‘Carnap and Incommensurability’ Philosophical Inquiry, 30: 135-156, 2008

‘Between Realism and Empiricism: The Adventures of Structuralism in the Philosophy of Science’ in Demetra Sfendoni-Mentzou (ed.) Philosophy of the Sciences, Ziti Publishers, 99-118, (in Greek) 2008

‘Philosophy of Science’ in The Routledge Companion to the 20th Century Philosophy, Dermot Moran (eds), Routledge, pp. 618-657, 2008

‘The Concept of a Number and the Number of a Concept: An Analysis of the Grundlagen of Gottlob Frege’ (with Demetra Christopoulou) Noesis 3: 79-113 (in Greek) 2008

‘Thoughts on Concepts: On Fodor’s Approach’ (with Aspassia Kanelou) Noesis 3: 45-78, (in Greek) 2008

‘Cartwright’s Realist Toil: From Entities to Capacities’, in Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science, (eds. Stephan Hartman, Carl Hoefer & Luc Bovens),Routledge, pp.167-194, 2008

‘Probabilistic Causation: Contextual Unanimity and Simpson’s paradoxes’ (with Nikos Bisketzis) Nefsis 16: 16-33 (in Greek) 2008

‘What is Causation?’ in Beena Choksi and Chitra Natarajan (eds.) The epiSTEME Reviews: Research trends in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, Macmillan India Ltd, pp.11-34, 2007

‘How To Do Things With Theories: An Interactive View of Language and Models in Science’ (with Robin Hendry), in J. Brzeziñski, A. Klawiter, T.A.F. Kuipers, K. Lastowski, K. Paprzycka, P. Przybysz (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy: Essays Dedicated to Leszek Nowak, pp. 59-115, Amsterdam/New York, NY: Rodopi, 2007

‘Past and Contemporary Perspectives on Explanation’ in Handbook of the Philosophy of Science: Focal Issues. Volume editor: Theo Kuipers. Handbook editors: Dov M. Gabbay, Paul Thagard and John Woods. Elsevier BV, pp.97-173, 2007

‘Putting a Bridle on Irrationality: An Appraisal of Van Fraassen’s New Epistemology’, in Bradley Monton (ed.) Images of Empiricism, Oxford University Press, pp.134-164, 2007

‘Pierre Duhem’s Philosophy of Science: Between Science and Metaphysics’, (with Milena Ivanova), Appendix in Pierre Duhem: ΣΩΖΕΙΝΤΑΦΑΙΝΟΜΕΝΑ, Greek Translation, Nefeli Publishers, (in Greek) 2007

‘Reflections on Conceptual Change’ in Stella Vosniadou, Aristides Baltas and Xenia Vamvakoussi (eds) Reframing the Conceptual Change Approach in Learning and Instruction, Elsevier Ltd, pp.83-87, 2007

‘Realism’, ‘Causal Law’, ‘Inference’, ‘Reference’, ‘Nicod’s Criterion’, ‘Philosophy of Science’ in A Dictionary of Critical Realism, Mervyn Hartwig (ed.), Routledge, 2007

‘Causal Explanation and Manipulation’ in Johannes Person & Petri Ylikoski (eds) Rethinking Explanation, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 252. Springer, pp. 97-112, 2007

‘The Fine Structure of Inference to the Best Explanation’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74: 441-448, 2007

‘The Structure, the Whole Structure and Nothing but the Structure?’, Philosophy of Science 73: 560–570, 2006

‘What do powers do when they are not manifested?’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72: 135-156, 2006

‘Critical Notice: Laws in Nature’, Metascience 15: 437-469, 2006

‘Thinking About the Ultimate Argument for Realism’, in Rationality & Reality, (eds Colin Cheyne & John Worrall), Springer, pp. 133-156, 2006

‘Philosophy of science, history of’ in Borchert, Donald, ed. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, (volume 7, pp. 503-516), 2006

‘Underdetermination Thesis, Duhem-Quine Thesis’ in Borchert, Donald, ed. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, (volume 9, pp. 575-578), 2006

‘Scientific Realism’ in Borchert, Donald, ed. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, (volume 8, pp. 688-694), 2006

‘Ramsey’s Ramsey-sentences’, in Cambridge and Vienna: Frank P Ramsey and the Vienna Circle (Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 12), (ed. Maria Carla Galavotti), Springer, pp. 67-90, 2006

‘Scientific Realism and Metaphysics’, Ratio 18: 385-404, 2005

‘Causation’, Archives of Greek Medicine 22: 594-605 (in Greek) 2005

‘Neo-Logicism: Problems and Prospects’ (with Demetra Christopoulou) Nefsis 14: 152-173 (in Greek), 2005

‘Reductivism and the Problem of Mental Causation’, Noesis 1: 39-58 (in Greek), 2005

‘Truth as a Value’ in Universal Values (Loucas G. Christophorou & George Contopoulos eds.) Academy of Athens, Athens, pp. 143-146, 2004

‘Modesty and Presumptuousness: How Science Tracks Truth’ in Philosophy of Science in the Twentieth Century, National Research Foundation, pp.121-133, (in Greek) 2004

‘Causality’, In New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Maryanne Cline Horowitz, (ed.), Charles Scribner’s Sons, pp. 272-280, 2004

‘A Glimpse of the Secret Connexion: Harmonising Mechanisms with Counterfactuals’, Perspectives on Science 12: 288-319, 2004

‘Tracking the Real: Through Thick and Thin’, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55: 393-409, 2004

‘Inference to the Best Explanation and Bayesianism’ in F. Stadler (ed.) Induction and Deduction in the Sciences, Kluwer, pp.83-91, 2004

‘Scientific Realism’ in Philosophy of Science Today, (eds P. Clark & C. Hawley) Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp.59-82, 2003

‘Theories of Scientific Method: Models for the Physico-Mathematical Sciences’ (with Nancy Cartwright and Hasok Chang), in The Cambridge History of Science, Volume 5, The Modern Physical and Mathematical Sciences, (ed. M. J. Nye), Cambridge University Press, pp.21-35, 2003

‘Simply the Best: A Case for Abduction’ in Computational Logic: From Logic Programming into the Future, LNAI 2408, (eds A. C. Kakas & F. Sadri), Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, pp.605-25, 2002

‘Salt does dissolve in water, but not necessarily’, Analysis 62: 255-7, 2002

‘What is the Positive Content of Negative Realism?;’ Nefsis 11: 85-95, (in Greek) 2002

‘Predictive Similarity and the Success of Science: A Reply to Stanford’ Philosophy of Science 68: 346-55, 2001

‘Is Structural Realism Possible?’ Philosophy of Science 68: S13-24, 2001

‘Author’s Response’ Metascience 10: 366-70, 2001

‘The Present State of the Scientific Realism Debate’ The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51: 705-28, 2000

‘Abduction: Between Conceptual Richness and Computational Complexity’ in Abduction and Induction: Essays in their Relation and Integration, (Applied Logic Series, Vol. 18), (eds. A. C. Kakas and P. Flach), Kluwer, pp.59-74, 2000

‘An Introduction to Carnap’s ‘Theoretical Concepts in Science’” (with Carnap’s unpublished lecture “Theoretical Concepts in Science”) Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 31: 151-72, 2000

‘Empiricism vs Scientific Realism: Belief in Truth Matters’, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14: 57-75, 2000

‘Carnap, the Ramsey-Sentence and Realistic Empiricism’ Erkenntnis 52: 253-79, 2000

‘Naturalism Without Truth?’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 28: 699-713, 1997

‘Kitcher on Reference’ International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 11: 259-72, 1997

‘How Not to Defend Constructive Empiricism: A Rejoinder’ The Philosophical Quarterly 47: 369-72, 1997

‘Scientific Realism and the “Pessimistic Induction”‘ Philosophy of Science 63: S306-14, 1996

‘On van Fraassen’s Critique of Abductive Reasoning’ The Philosophical Quarterly 46: 31-47, 1996. Translation into Portuguese ‘Sobre a Critica de van Fraassen ao Raciocinio Abdutivo’ Crtica-Revista de Filosofia 6, pp.35-62, 2000

‘Poincaré’s Conception of Mechanical Explanation’ in Henri Poincarè: Science and Philosophy, (eds. Jean-Louis Greffe, Gerhard Heinzmann & Kuno Lorenz), Berlin: Academie Verlag & Paris: Albert Blanchard, pp.177-91, 1996

‘Is Structural Realism the Best of Both Worlds?’ Dialectica 49: 15-46, 1995

‘The Cognitive Interplay Between Theories and Models: The Case of 19th Century Optics’, in Theories and Models in Scientific Processes, Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 44, (eds W. E. Herfel, W. Krajewski, I. Niiniluoto & R. Wojcicki), pp.105-33, 1995

‘A Philosophical Study of the Transition from the Caloric Theory of Heat to Thermodynamics: Resisting the Pessimistic Meta-Induction’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 25: 159-90, 1994

‘Conceptions and Misconceptions of Ether’ in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on the Physical Interpretations of Relativity Theory, (ed. M. C. Duffy) Imperial College, London, pp.544-56, 1992

Henk W. de Regt, Sabina Leonelli, and Kai Eigner (eds.), Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives, (with Antigone Nounou), Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 43: 72-74, 2012

Steven Gimbel (ed.): Exploring the scientific method: Cases and questions, (Book Notice), Metascience, 21: 505-6, 2012.

Michael Dummett: The nature and future of philosophy (Book Notice) Metascience, 20: 3, 2011.

Friedrich Stadler (ed.): The present situation in the philosophy of science (Book Notice), Metascience, 20: 415-6 (2011)

Anjan Chakravartty: A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism, ISIS 100, 204-5 (2009)

Howard Sankey: Scientific Realism and the Rationality of Science, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87: 681-684 (2009)

Derek Turner Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate, Notre Dame Review of Books (2008)

‘The DOOR to Sellars’, Review of Willem A. de Vries, Wilfrid Sellars (with Andreas Karitzis), Metascience 16: 555-559 (2007)

Yemina Ben-Menahem Conventionalism: From Poincaré to Quine. Philosophy in Review 27: 243-245 (2007)

Norris, Christopher, Philosophy of Language and the Challenge to Scientific Realism, Journal of Critical Realism 4: 255-261 (2005)

Musgrave, A. Essays on realism and rationalism, Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34: 440-4 (2004)

Achinstein, P. The Book of Evidence, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68: 740-3 (2004)

Solomon, M. Social Empiricism, Philosophy of Science 69: 545-7 (2002)

Niiniluoto, I. Critical Scientific Realism, MIND 111: 454-8 (2002)

Morrison, M & Morgan, M. (eds) Models as Mediators, Economics and Philosophy 17: 288-94 (with Francesco Guala) (2002)

Kukla, A. Studies in Scientific Realism, The Foundations of Chemistry 3: 79-86 (2001)

Giere, R. Science without Laws, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 15: 102-5 (2001)

Wilson, F. The Logic and Methodology of Science in Early Modern Thought, Philosophy in Review 20: 447-9 (2000)

Richardson, A. Carnap’s Construction of the World, MIND 109: 986-90 (2000)

‘World According to Flux of Tropes’ The Times Higher Education Supplement, 6 October 2000, 29

Gower, B. Theories of Scientific Method, Ratio 12: 310-16 (1999)

‘True Stories’, Nature 392: 35-6 (1998)

Marsonet, M.: Language, Science and Reality, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47: 663-8 (1996)

‘Rights from Wrongs’, Nature 383: 682 (1996)

Aronson J., Harré R., & Way E. C.: Realism Rescued International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 9: 179-83 (1995)

Roger Trigg: Rationality and Science, MIND 104: 674-9 (1995)

Karl Popper: The Myth of the Framework Philosophy in Review 15: 200-2 (1995)

Paul Hoyningen-Huene: Reconstructing Scientific Revolutions and Paul Horwich (ed.): World Changes, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45: 923-6 (1994)

Interviews and Other Philosophical Pieces:

‘Of Realist Turns: A Conversation with Stathis Psillos (interview with Fabio Gironi) Speculations: 367-427 (2012)

‘Philosophy of Science in Greece: Past, Present and Future’, in EPSA Newsletter, Vol. 1 Issue 2, September 2011, pp. 3-7, 2011

‘Interview by Federica Russo’, Reasoner, Volume 5, no. 7, pp. 102-106, July 2011

‘Philosophy of Science: 5 Answers’ in R. Rosengberg (ed.) Philosophy of Science: 5 Questions, Automatic Press/VIP, pp. 169-180, 2010

Faculty Research Domains

Rotman Institute faculty members are listed below by shared research areas. Visit individual member profiles to learn more.