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Department of Philosophy


Professor Robin Hendry, BSc, PhD

Personal web page

Professor in the Department of Philosophy

Contact Professor Robin Hendry


I graduated with a BSc in Chemistry and the Philosophy of Science from King's College London and the LSE, in 1989. Foundational problems in quantum chemistry prompted me to sign up for a PhD in Philosophy at the LSE, though my thesis, when completed in late 1993, entitled 'Realism, history and the quantum theory' mostly concerned Imre Lakatos' views on methodology, the historical development of quantum theory, and scientific realism. My first lectureship was at the University of Edinburgh (January-September 1994), after which I came to Durham in October 1994. Since then I have worked on scientific realism, modeling in the physical sciences, and the history and philosophy of chemistry and its relationship to physics.

My areas of research include: philosophical issues in chemistry such as the nature of chemical substances, and the chemical bond; general metaphysical issues in science like unity and natural kinds, and epistemology. For a list of publications see my personal research page.

Philosophy apart, I live in a village just outside Durham with my wife Daniela, our three children (Jacob, Helena and Lily) and Boogie the cat. I have little time for hobbies except books and drink.

Recent Grants and Awards

  • My last project has issued in a book, thanks to research fellowships granted by the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Works in Progress

  • I have recently completed a book project entitled The Metaphysics of Chemistry. Also under contract is a textbook on philosophy of chemistry, for Acumen Publishing. Longer term I look forward to co-authoring a textbook on reasoning and formal logic for philosophical purposes.
  • Books apart, I am currently engaged in two main projects, on which I have published a number of papers in recent years: on the semantics and metaphysics of chemical substances, and the historical development of the concept of a substance; on foundational aspects of the chemical bond and its physical realisation.

Research Interests

  • History and philosophy of quantum physics and chemistry
  • Scientific method and rationality
  • Scientific realism and anti-realism

Research supervision

  • I have supervised a range of PhD research projects in the philosophy of science and epistemology. I would especially welcome enquiries from students wishing to pursue postgraduate research on foundational and historical topics in chemistry and other physical sciences.

Postgraduate teaching

Undergraduate teaching modules

Administrative duties

  • Director of Research in the Department of Philosophy

Research Groups

  • History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
  • Mind, Language and Metaphysics

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Hendry, R.F. (2017). Mechanisms and reduction in organic chemistry. In EPSA15 Selected Papers: The 5th conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association in Düsseldorf. European Studies in Philosophy of Science, volume 5. Massimi, M., Romeijn, J.W. & Schurz, G. Cham: Springer. 111-124.
  • Hendry, R.F. (2017). Prospects for strong emergence in chemistry. In Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation. Francesco Orilia, F. & Paoletti, M.P. New York: Routledge. 146-163.
  • Hendry, RF (2010). 'The elements and conceptual change'. In The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. Beebee, H & Sabbarton-Leary, N New York Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 137-158.

Journal Article

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Science: Education, industry & the community: scientific methods & objectivity
  • Science: Education, industry & the community: experimentation

Staff by Research Cluster

CHESS Website