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Staff Profile

Dr Peter Vickers, BSc, MA, PhD

Personal web page

Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Philosophy

(email at

OFFICE: Room 207 in the Philosophy Department

My office hours for the term starting 8th October 2018 will appear here.


In 2003 I received a BSc in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of York, followed by an MA (2005) in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Leeds. This led to a PhD in history and philosophy of science (2009), also at Leeds, supervised by Prof. Steven French. The starting point was certain difficulties concerning the representation and reconstruction of inconsistent scientific theories. Gradually I developed a new methodology for analysing debates about inconsistencies in science which I called ‘theory eliminativism’. This was the major focus during my year as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, USA (2010-11). I received a contract from Oxford University Press to develop my PhD thesis into a book, entitled Understanding Inconsistent Science, and this was published in 2013. I started as a lecturer at Durham University in 2011. Philosophy aside, I am a keen runner.


I am happy to supervise dissertations on any of the topics listed under 'Research Interests', and on closely related topics. Some examples of specific topics I would be happy to supervise are as follows:

'When (if ever) is an inconsistency in science a serious problem?'

'Is it possible to be a scientific realist about quantum mechanics?'

'Just how useful is Bayesian confirmation theory?'

'What is the best contemporary form of scientific realism?'

'Should the scientific realist be motivated by explanatory successes in science, or only predictive successes?'

'In what sense do scientific theories exist?'

'Under what circumstances is the elimination of a (scientific) concept warranted?'

'Do the debates of philosophers of science suffer from a lack of knowledge of the history of science?'

Works in Progress

From 2014-18 I was the PI of a 42-month AHRC project, a collaboration with Timothy D. Lyons at IUPUI (Indianapolis, USA). The project was entitled 'Contemporary Scientific Realism and the Challenge from the History of Science' (full details available on the project website). In the long run this is all building towards another major monograph, provisionally entitled Future-Proof Science. Shorter term, Tim Lyons and I are co-editing a volume which will appear in 2019 as a book with OUP, entitled Contemporary Scientific Realism: The Challenge from the History of Science.

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine (PISM)

Undergraduate Teaching

Administrative Duties

  • IT officer 2011-2015
  • Seminar and RIP lecture organiser 2011-14
  • Admissions Tutor 2014-2018
  • Secretary of the Research Committee 2012-14
  • Deputy Director of Research 2013-14
  • Ethics rep 2012-14
  • Science, Medicine, and Society research cluster coordinator 2017-18
  • Director of postgraduate research, from October 2018

Research Groups

  • Science, Medicine, and Society (SMS)

Research Groups

Department of Philosophy

  • History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
  • History of Philosophy

Research Interests

  • Scientific realism/anti-realism
  • Confirmation theories
  • Evidence
  • Inconsistency in science
  • The relationship between history of science and philosophy of science
  • Eliminativism and pluralism about concepts


Authored book

  • Vickers, P. (2013). Understanding Inconsistent Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapter in book

  • Vickers, P. (2017). Historical Challenges to Realism. In The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism. Saatsi, J. Routledge. 48-59.
  • Vickers, P (2016). Why Kirchhoff's Approximation Works. In Gustav Robert Kirchhoff's Treatise “On the Theory of Light Rays” (1882). Klaus Hentschel & Ning Yan Zhu World Scientific.
  • Vickers, P. & Bueno, O. (2012). Introduction. In Is Science Inconsistent?.
  • Vickers, P. (2012). Theory Flexibility and Inconsistency in Science. In Is Science Inconsistent?. Special Issue of Synthese.
  • Vickers, P. (2011). A Brief Chronology of the Philosophy of Science. In The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science. Continuum Press.

Edited book

  • Lyons, T. D. & Vickers, P. (Forthcoming). Contemporary Scientific Realism and the Challenge from the History of Science. Oxford University Press.
  • Vickers, P & Bueno, O (2011). Is Science Inconsistent?. Special issue of Synthese.

Journal Article

  • Vickers, Peter (2018). Disarming the Ultimate Historical Challenge to Scientific Realism. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • Taylor, H. & Vickers, P. (2017). Conceptual Fragmentation and the Rise of Eliminativism. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7(1): 17-40.
  • Vickers, Peter (2017). Understanding the selective realist defence against the PMI. Synthese 194(9): 3221-3232.
  • Vickers, P. (2016). Towards a realistic success-to-truth inference for scientific realism. Synthese 1-15.
  • Bueno, Otávio & Vickers, Peter (2014). Is Science Inconsistent? Synthese 191(13): 2887-2889.
  • Vickers, P. (2014). Scientific Theory Eliminativism. Erkenntnis 79(1): 111-126
  • Vickers, Peter (2014). Theory flexibility and inconsistency in science. Synthese 191(13): 2891-2906.
  • Vickers, P (2013). A Confrontation of Convergent Realism. Philosophy of Science 80(2): 189-211.
  • Vickers, P (2012). Historical Magic in Old Quantum Theory? European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2(1): 1-19.
  • French, S. & Vickers, P. (2011). Are There No Things That Are Scientific Theories? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62(4): 771-804.
  • Saatsi, J & Vickers, P (2011). Miraculous Success? Inconsistency and Untruth in Kirchhoff's Diffraction Theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62(1): 29-46.
  • Vickers, Peter (2010). Fluorescent Aporetics. Metascience 19(1): 105-108.
  • Vickers, P (2009). Can Partial Structures Accommodate Inconsistent Science? Principia 13(2): 233-250.
  • Vickers, P (2009). Was Newtonian Cosmology Really Inconsistent? Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40(3): 197-208.
  • Vickers, P (2008). Frisch, Muller, and Belot on an Inconsistency in Classical Electrodynamics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59(4): 767-792.

Edited Journal

  • Bueno, Otávio & Vickers, Peter (2014). Is Science Inconsistent?. Synthese, 191 (13): Springer.

Other (Print)

  • Vickers, Peter (2017). Sommerfeld’s Miracle: The Ultimate Challenge to Scientific Realism.
  • Vickers, P. (2015). Contemporary Scientific Realism and the 1811 Gill Slit Prediction.
  • Vickers, P. (2014). Case Studies in the Scientific Realism Debate: From pilot project to international collaboration.
  • Vickers, P. (2013). Is science inconsistent?