Last week I received a widely distributed announcement on a conference celebrating "The 'Stanford School' of Philosophy of Science." The 'core' members of this school are taken to be: Nancy Cartwright (Durham), John Dupré (Exeter), Peter Galison (Harvard), Peter Godfrey-Smith (CUNY), Patrick Suppes (Stanford). The parenthesis are the current affiliation of the 'core' members; this immediately suggests that if there is a 'school' at all we are either dealing with a historical phenomenon or very distributed one. Scanning the list of the 'next generation' confirms that Stanford is not the current base of the purported school.
First, I adore much of the work done by many in the 'core,' but the idea that this group is a 'school' is deeply flawed. For, Suppes is far better understood (as he does himself) as belonging to the first generation (including Kyburg, Pap, Isaac Levi) intellectual off-spring of Ernest Nagel, who successfully created American analytical philosophy by combining the Scientific wing of Pragmatism with the new approaches emanating from Vienna, especially, and Cambridge (recall and here). In his autobiography, Suppes describes how assimilated from Nagel the significance of history of science.
Third, Peter Godfrey-Smith is a student of Kitcher, and, if he belongs to a school at all, it is really as a third (fourth?) generation scientific pragmatist within analytical philosophy. I am not an expert on his work, but he has, in particular, taken a keen (and sophisticated) interest in the nature of such a pragmatist school.
Finally, there is no doubt that Stanford was a very exciting place for philosophy of science in the 1970s and 80s. Our very own Dennis Des Chene, who has played a very important role in developing contextualized and philosophically savvy history of early modern philosophy (and life-sciences), is, after all, a product of this environment! There are, undoubtedly, 'schools' within analytic philosophy and it is definitely worth to reflect on their existence, but I think talk of the 'stanford school of philosophy of science' is not very helpful to our self-understanding.
UPDATE: The conference poster (with program) can be found here.