Professor Steven French

Professor Steven French


Philosophy of Science; History of Physics; Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics.

I joined the School in 1993 after holding previous appointments in Brazil and the USA and am currently  Professor of the Philosophy of Science here at Leeds. My most recent book was co-authored with Otávio Bueno (Univ. of Miami) and concerns the applicability of mathematics to science (Applying Mathematics: Immersion, Inference and Interpretation; OUP 2018). I've also recently completed a further monograph that compares theories with artworks and concludes, as it says in the (possibly provisional and perhaps provocative) title, There are No Such Things as Theories (forthcoming OUP). Over the past couple of years I have also fretted about the status of dispositional accounts of laws and properties in the context of modern physics and danced around the relationship between science and metaphysics more generally. Currently I am reviving an old paper on a piece of 'effaced' history in the foundations of quantum theory and developing it as the basis for yet another book on the phenomenological approach to quantum mechanics ('phenomenological' as in Husserlian; yes, really ...).

I am currently Co-Editor-in-Chief (with Wendy Parker of the University of Durham) of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (, one of the most highly regarded journals in the field. I am also Editor-in-Chief of the Palgrave-Macmillan series, New Directions in Philosophy of Science (

Research interests

  • Philosophy of Science, especially models and the semantic approach, representation and structural realism
  • Philosophy of Physics, especially the metaphysical foundations of quantum mechanics
  • History of Physics, especially twentieth century

Research Students

PhD supervision can be offered in all of the above areas.

Current PhD students include: Fabio Ceravolo (Composition and Parthood in Science; co-supervised with Robbie Williams), Douglas Earl (Ontological Foundations of Quantum Field Theory; co-supervised with Juha Saatsi), Colin McCullough-Banner (Applicability of Mathematics, co-supervised with Juha Saatsi), Alice Murphy (Thought Experiments in Science and Art; co-supervised with Aaron Meskin); Simon Newey (Probability and Decoherence in Quantum Mechanics; co-supervised with Juha Saatsi).

Former PhD students include Otávio Bueno (University of Miami), George Darby (University of Oxford), Callum Duguid (University of Leeds),James Fraser (Max Planck Institute, Berlin), James Ladyman (University of Bristol), Kerry McKenzie (University of California, San Diego), Dean Rickles (University of Sydney), Juha Saatsi (University of Leeds), Sam Schindler (Aarhus University),Nahuel Sznajderhuis (National University of Ireland, Galway), Pete Vickers (University of Durham), among others.


Scientific Realism and the Quantum, with J. Saatsi (eds.), OUP, forthcoming.

'Structural Realism and the Standard Model',in A. Cordero (ed.), Philosophers Look at Quantum Mechanics, Springer forthcoming.

'Fundamentality',  in E. Knox and A. Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Physics, Routledge forthcoming.

‘There Are No Such Things as Ordinary Objects’ forthcoming in J. Cumpa and B. Brewer (eds.), The Nature of Ordinary Objects, Cambridge University Press forthcoming.

'Identity Conditions, Idealisaitons and Isomorphisms', Synthese forthcoming.

Applying Mathematics: Immersion, Inference and Interpretation, with O. Bueno, OUP, 2018.

‘Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies’, with Juha Saatsi,  in J. Saatsi and A. Reutlinger (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation, pp. 185-205, Oxford University Press, 2018.

‘Realism and Metaphysics’,  in J. Saatsi (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Realism, pp. 394-406, Routledge, 2018.

‘Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can Still Make a Contribution’, Journal of General Philosophy of Science 49 pp. 211-230, 2018.

‘Building Bridges with the Right Tools: Modality and the Standard Model’, in M. Massimi, J-W. Romeijn and G. Schurz (eds.),  Proceedings of EPSA2015, pp. 37-47, Springer 2017.

Thinking About Science, Reflection on Art: Bringing Aesthetics and Philosophy of Science Together, with O. Bueno, G. Darby and D. Rickles (eds.), Routledge 2017.

‘Structural Realism and the Toolbox of Metaphysics’ in E. Agazzi (ed.), Varieties of Scientific Realism: Objectivity and Truth in Science, Springer, pp. 227-244, 2017.

'(Structural) Realism and its Representational Vehicles', Synthese 194 pp. 3311-3326, 2017.

The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation. OUP, 2014 (pbk 2016).

Philosophy of Science: Key Concepts, Bloomsbury Academic , 2016 (2nd ed. of Science: Key Concepts in Philosophy, updated and with new ch. on explanation).

Further papers can be found via

or by emailing me at:

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD (University of London)
  • BSc (University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

Professional memberships

  • British Society for the Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Science Association

Research groups and institutes

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy
  • Centre for History and Philosophy of Science
  • Centre for Metaphysics and Mind

Current postgraduate research students

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>