18 August 2021

Niels Bohr Archive and Department of Science Education welcome Hans Halvorson

Hans Halvorson
Hans Halvorson

On July 1st, Hans Halvorson started in a position as professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the Department of Science Education. Hans Halvorson will first and foremost conduct research on the basis of the archival holdings of the Niels Bohr Archive. The intention with Hans Halvorson’s position is to strengthen research into the life and work of Niels Bohr and to further increase collaboration between the Niels Bohr Archive and other parts of the university.

“Hans Halvorson is a world-renowned and excellent scholar. I am happy and proud that we expand the collaboration between the Niels Bohr Archive and the Department of Science Education. With Hans we will do excellent research that contributes to the international Bohr scholarship as well as to our understanding of science,” says Jan Alexis Nielsen, Head of Department of Science Education.

Hans Halvorson studied philosophy and mathematics at Calvin College, Pittsburgh, and Oxford. In 2001 he earned his PhD in philosophy of science at Pittsburgh and joined Princeton University. He has been a visiting researcher at, among others, Utrecht University and the Perimeter Institute. Since 2016, he is the Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.

Hans Halvorson’s research focuses on logic in the philosophy of science and on the philosophy of physics. At Copenhagen, he expects to conduct research into the nature of objective knowledge and into different notions of objectivity in the history of science. One of the central aims of his project is to gain a better appreciation of Bohr’s own conception of objectivity. This conception cannot be gleaned directly from Bohr’s writings, but will have to be inferred from a thorough and in-depth study of his extensive publications, notes, and correspondence, which are held by the Niels Bohr Archive. This is expected to lead to a reappreciation of Bohr as a philosopher of science, to novel perspectives on Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics, and to a better understanding of how Bohr’s thinking is historically and culturally rooted in specific philosophical traditions such as Søren Kierkegaard’s.

“With Hans’s hire, we are excited to expand our research activities and expertise at the Niels Bohr Archive, to deepen our collaboration with the Department of Science Education and its History and Philosophy of Science Group, and to begin erecting new intellectual bridges to both the sciences and the humanities at UCPH as well as between Princeton University and UCPH,” says Christian Joas, Director of the Niels Bohr Archive.

The Board of Directors of the Niels Bohr Archive, and in particular its former chairman Vilhelm Bohr as well as its current chairman John Renner Hansen, were instrumental in creating the new position.

“With the appointment of Hans Halvorson as professor of History and Philosophy of Science, the wish of the board and of the university management to strengthen research in connection with the Niels Bohr Archive's unique collections of material about Niels Bohr, has been fulfilled even beyond expectations. With his unique international network, Hans Halvorson will be a key facilitator of international collaboration with the Niels Bohr Archive as a significant partner and thus a catalyst for a better understanding of Niels Bohr's significance for science and society,” says John Renner Hansen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Niels Bohr Archive.

“To keep up with rapid developments in the sciences, we need to think dynamically about what science can be and the role it should play in our societies. I am delighted to be joining the University of Copenhagen, which I believe to be uniquely situated as an international center of excellence in these developments,” says Hans Halvorson.

Hans will continue his affiliation with Princeton and eventually share his time evenly between Copenhagen and Princeton. This academic year, Hans is on sabbatical from Princeton and will stay the entire year here in Copenhagen.