Introduction to the Philosophy of Science: Cutting Nature at Its Seams is a clear and lively explanation of key concepts and issues in the philosophy of science. It surveys the field from positivism to social constructivism, focusing on the metaphysical implications of science as a form of knowledge gathering that explains what the world is really like, while simultaneously arguing for the superiority of a holistic model of scientific theories over competing models. An innovative feature is the use of immunology (...) as the central domain of illustration, in contrast to other philosophy of science texts that draw examples predominantly from physics. The text also presents Thomas Kuhn's model of science clearly and accurately, rectifying the notorious and widespread misinterpretations projected upon it in the past. Klee discusses both traditional models of science and alternative interpretations, most notably nonfeminist and feminist models inspired by the work of Kuhn. Richly illustrated and complete with a glossary of over eighty key terms, this book serves as an ideal text for undergraduates, because it presents a highly accessible and contemporary investigation of science as a form of inquiry capable of revealing to us the structure of the world. (shrink)
Scientists and 'anti-scientists' alike need a more realistic image of science. The traditional mode of research, academic science, is not just a 'method': it is a distinctive culture, whose members win esteem and employment by making public their findings. Fierce competition for credibility is strictly regulated by established practices such as peer review. Highly specialized international communities of independent experts form spontaneously and generate the type of knowledge we call 'scientific' - systematic, theoretical, empirically-tested, quantitative, and so on. Ziman shows (...) that these familiar 'philosophical' features of scientific knowledge are inseparable from the ordinary cognitive capabilities and peculiar social relationships of its producers. This wide-angled close-up of the natural and human sciences recognizes their unique value, whilst revealing the limits of their rationality, reliability, and universal applicability. It also shows how, for better or worse, the new 'post-academic' research culture of teamwork, accountability, etc. is changing these supposedly eternal philosophical characteristics. (shrink)
In this wide-ranging book, Brian Davies discusses the basis for scientists' claims to knowledge about the world. He looks at science historically, emphasizing not only the achievements of scientists from Galileo onwards, but also their mistakes. He rejects the claim that all scientific knowledge is provisional, by citing examples from chemistry, biology and geology. A major feature of the book is its defense of the view that mathematics was invented rather than discovered. A large number of examples are used to (...) illustrate these points, and many of the deep issues in today's world discussed-from psychology and evolution to quantum theory, consciousness and even religious belief. Disentangling knowledge from opinion and aspiration is a hard task, but this book provided a clear guide to the difficulties. (shrink)
This is an introductory survey to the philosophy of science suitable for beginners and nonspecialists. Its point of departure is the question: why should we believe what science tells us about the world? In this attempt to justify the claims of science the book treats such topics as observation data, confirmation of theories, and the explanation of phenomena. The writing is clear and concrete with detailed examples drawn from contemporary science: solar neutrinos, the gravitational bending of light, and the creation/evolution (...) debate, for example. What emerges is a view of science in which observation relies on theory to give it meaning and credibility, while theory relies on observation for its motivation and validation. It is shown that this reciprocal support is not circular since the theory used to support a particular observation is independent of the theory for which the observation serves as evidence. (shrink)
This book offers a superbly clear analysis of the standard arguments for and against scientific realism. In surveying claims on both sides of the debate, Kukla organizes them in ways that expose unnoticed connections. He identifies broad patterns of error, reconciles seemingly incompatible positions, and discovers unoccupied positions with the potential to influence further debate. Kukla's overall assessment is that neither the realists nor the antirealists may claim a decisive victory.
This book espouses an innovative theory of scientific realism in which due weight is given to mathematics and logic. The authors argue that mathematics can be understood realistically if it is seen to be the study of universals, of properties and relations, of patterns and structures, the kinds of things which can be in several places at once. Taking this kind of scientific platonism as their point of departure, they show how the theory of universals can account for probability, laws (...) of nature, causation, and explanation, and explore the consequences in all these fields. This will be an important book for all philosophers of science, logicians, and metaphysicians, and their graduate students. The readership will also include those outside philosophy interested in the interrelationship of philosophy and science. (shrink)
Scientific uncertainty puzzles many people. The puzzlement arises when scientists have more than one answer, and disagree among themselves. This book helps people find their way through this maze of scientific contradiction and uncertainty. By acquainting them with the ways that uncertainty arises in science, how scientists accommodate and make use of uncertainty, and how they reach conclusions in the face of uncertainty, the book enables readers to confidently evaluate uncertainty from their own perspectives, in terms of their own experiences.
This volume brings together eleven essays by the distinguished philosopher of science, Peter Achinstein. The unifying theme is the nature of the philosophical problems surrounding the postulation of unobservable entities such as light waves, molecules, and electrons. How, if at all, is it possible to confirm scientific hypotheses about "unobservables"? Achinstein examines this question as it arose in actual scientific practice in three nineteenth-century episodes: the debate between particle and wave theorists of light, Maxwell's kinetic theory of gases, and J.J. (...) Thomson's discovery of the electron. The book contains three parts, each devoted to one of these topics, beginning with an essay presenting the historical background of the episode and an introduction to the philosophical issues. There is an illuminating evaluation of various scientific methodologies, including hypothetico-deductivism, inductivism, and the method of independent warrant which combines features of the first two. Achinstein assesses the philosophical validity of both nineteenth-century and modern answers to questions about unobservables, and presents and defends his own solutions. (shrink)
When physicist Alan Sokal recently submitted an article to the postmodernist journal Social Text, the periodical's editors were happy to publish it--for here was a respected scientist offering support for the journal's view that science is a subjective, socially constructed discipline. But as Sokal himself soon revealed in Lingua Franca magazine, the essay was a spectacular hoax--filled with scientific gibberish anyone with a basic knowledge of physics should have caught--and the academic world suddenly awoke to the vast gap that has (...) opened between the scientific community and their mould-be critics. But the truth is that not only postmodern critics but Americans in general have a weak grasp on scientific principles and facts. In Connected Knowledge, physicist Alan Cromer offers a way to bridge the chasm, with a lively, lucid account of scientific thinking and a provocative new agenda for American education. Science, Cromer argues, is anything but common sense: It requires a particular habit of mind that does not come naturally. For example, something as simple as buoyancy can only be explained through Archimedes' principle--that a body in a fluid is subject to an upward force equal to the weight of fluid it displaces--yet few scientists could arrive at this ancient concept by trial and error. School children, however, are often given a ball and a tank of water, and asked to explain buoyancy any way they can. Today's de emphasis on teaching pupils necessary facts and principles, he argues, "far from empowering them, makes them slaves of their own subjective opinions." This movement in education, known as Constructivism, has close ties to postmodern critics (such as the editors of Social Text) who question the objectivity of science, and with it the existence of an objective reality. Cromer offers a ringing defense of the knowability of the world, both as an objective reality and as a finite landscape of discovery. The advance of scientific knowledge, he argues, is not unlike the mapping of the continents; at this point, we have found them all. He shows how the advent of quantum mechanics, rather than making knowledge less certain, actually offers a more precise understanding of the behavior of atoms and electrons. Turning from philosophy to education, he argues that instead of allowing students to flounder, however creatively, schools should follow a progressive curriculum that returns theoretical knowledge to the classroom. Connected Knowledge, however, goes much farther. As a discipline that insists upon connecting theory with measurable reality, physical science offers a new direction for reforming the social sciences. Cromer also shows how some of the hottest issues in public policy--including the debates over special education and group variations in I.Q., can be resolved through clear, hard headed thinking. For example, he argues for use of the G.E.D. as a national educational standard, with a new "politics of intelligence" to guide the distribution of school resources. Always forthright and articulate, Alan Cromer offers a startling new vision for integrating science, philosophy, and education. (shrink)
This book presents the current feminist critique of science and the philosophy of science in such a way that students of philosophy of science, philosophers, feminist theorists, and scientists will find the material accessible and intellectually rigorous.Contemporary feminist debate, as well as the debate brought on by the radical critics of science, assumes—incorrectly—that certain movements in philosophy of science and science-driven theory are understood in their dynamics as well as in their details. All too often, labels such as “Kuhnian” or (...) “positivistic” are taken for granted, and much of the contemporary postmodern or post-structuralist feminist theory that sets out to criticize science does little to alleviate the reader’s lack of knowledge with regard to such movements.Unlike other texts, Philosophies of Science: Feminist Theories provides a student-oriented framework so that, for example, positivism is given a thorough grounding before the feminist critique of such epistemological theory is given. Other movements discussed include the Kuhnian turn, sociology of science, and the radical critique of science. Feminist theory and critique are interwoven throughout, with one chapter devoted to feminist thought, which includes the work of such thinkers as Longino, Hararway, Hubbard, Nelson, Harding, and Keller. (shrink)
Since the publication of Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim's ground-breaking work "Studies in the Logic of Explanation," the theory of explanation has remained a major topic in the philosophy of science. This valuable collection provides readers with the opportunity to study some of the classic essays on the theory of explanation along with the best examples of the most recent work being done on the topic. In addition to the original Hempel and Oppenheim paper, the volume includes Scriven's critical reaction (...) to it, Wilfrid Sellars's discussion of the problem of theoretical explanation, and pieces by Salmon, Railton, van Fraassen, Friedman, Kitcher, and Achinstein in which they demonstrate the vitality of the subject by extending the scope of the inquiry. (shrink)
Since Galileo, critics have waged a relentless assault against science, attacking it as dehumanizing, reductionist, relativistic, dominating, and imperialistic. Supporters meanwhile view science as synonymous with modernity and progress. The current debates over the role of science-- described by such headlines as Scientists are Urged to Fight Back Against `Politically Correct' Critics in The Chronicle of Higher Education--testify to how deeply divided we remain about the values and responsibilities of science in the modern age. Acknowledging the validity of a deep (...) skepticism about science but eager to preserve its strengths and values, Alfred I. Tauber's anthology seeks to avoid an either/or configuration. Science, Tauber argues, is fundamentally pluralistic and must accept detracting criticism as part of its very code in the hope that, in its defense, the scientific enterprise is strengthened and reaffirmed. Featuring essays by a wide range of interdisciplinary, classical, and contemporary thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Thomas Kuhn, Hilary Putnam, Evelyn Fox Keller, and Max Weber, the work is divided into five parts: science and its worldview; the problem of scientific realism; the nature of scientific change; the boundaries of science; and science and values. (shrink)
Scientific Inquiry: Readings in the Philosophy of Science features an impressive collection of classical and contemporary readings on a wide range of issues in the philosophy of science. The volume is organized into six sections, each with its own introduction, and includes a general introduction that situates the philosophy of science in relation to other areas of intellectual inquiry. The selections focus on the main issues in the field, including the structure of scientific theories, models of scientific explanation, reductionism, historicist (...) challenges to the objectivity of science, and the dispute over the ontological interpretation of mature scientific theories. Both the positivist model of science and its competitors, including contemporary social constructivist models, are included. Ideal for introductory philosophy of science courses, Scientific Inquiry strives to provide students and other readers with a thorough knowledge of the philosophical complexity of modern science and an appreciation of its authoritative intellectual standing in contemporary life. (shrink)
Critiques of Knowing explores what happens to science and computing when we think of them as texts. Lynette Hunter elegantly weaves together such vast areas of thought as rhetoric, politics, AI, computing, feminism, science studies, aesthetics and epistemology. This book shows us that what we need is a radical shake-up of approaches to the arts if the critiques of science and computing are to come to any fruition.
In The March of Unreason, Dick Taverne expresses his concern that irrationality is on the rise in Western society, and argues that public opinion is increasingly dominated by unreflecting prejudice and an unwillingness to engage with factual evidence. Discussing topics such as genetically modified crops and foods, organic farming, the MMR vaccine, environmentalism, the precautionary principle, and the new anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements, he argues that the rejection of the evidence-based approach nurtures a culture of suspicion, distrust, and cynicism, and (...) leads to dogmatic assertion and intolerance. Science, with all the benefits it brings, is an essential part of a civilized and democratic society: it offers the most hopeful future for humankind. (shrink)
What is science? How is scientific knowledge affected by the society that produces it? Does scientific knowledge directly correspond to reality? Can we draw a line between science and pseudo-science? Will it ever be possible for computers to undertake scientific investigation independently? Is there such a thing as feminist science? In this book the author addresses questions such as these using a technique of 'cognitive play', which creates and explores new links between the ideas and results of contemporary history, philosophy, (...) and sociology of science. New ideas and approaches are applied to a wide range of case studies, many of them from controversial and contested science. This book will be of interest to historians and sociologists of science, to anyone interested in science studies, and to educated general readers with an interest in the history, philosophy, and social context of science. (shrink)
Lakatos, I. History of science and its rational reconstructions.--Clark, P. Atomism vs. thermodynamics.--Worrall, J. Thomas Young and the "rufutation" of Newtonian optics.--Musgrave, A. Why did oxygen supplant phlogiston?--Zahar, E. Why did Einstein's programme supersede Lorentz's?--Frické, M. The rejection of Avogadro's hypotheses.--Feyerabend, P. On the critique of scientific reason.
Did Newton "unweave the rainbow" by reducing it to its prismatic colors, as Keats contended? Did he, in other words, diminish beauty? Far from it, says Dawkins--Newton's unweaving is the key too much of modern astronomy and to the breathtaking poetry of modern cosmology. Mysteries don't lose their poetry because they are solved: the solution often is more beautiful than the puzzle, uncovering deeper mystery. (The Keats who spoke of "unweaving the rainbow" was a very young man, Dawkins reminds us.) (...) With the wit, insight, and spellbinding prose that have made his books worldwide bestsellers, Dawkins addresses the most important and compelling topics in modern science, from astronomy and genetics to language and virtual reality, and combines them in a landmark statement of the human appetite for wonder. This is the book that Richard Dawkins was meant to write: a brilliant assessment of what science is (and what it isn't), a tribute to science "not because it is useful (though it is), but but because it is uplifting, in the same way as the best poetry is uplifting.". (shrink)
Natural disasters remind us of the capricious power of Nature. This book questions the way that modern science and technology are represented as the means to liberate human beings from the arbitrary natural imposition of forces beyond our control. Modern science is implicated in a societal gamble on the construction of a technological society to replace the natural world with a supposedly better artificial one. The author questions the rationality of this societal gamble and its implications for our lives.
Exploring the central ideas of traditional metaphysics--such as the simplicity of nature, its comprehensibility, or its systematic integrity--this book analyzes looking at such notions from a scientific point of view. It seeks to describe in a clear, accessible manner the metaphysical situation that characterizes the process of inquiry in natural science, aiming to shed light on reality by examining the modus operandi of natural science itself and focusing as much on its findings as on its conceptual and methodological presuppositions. Written (...) by an eminent scholar of philosophy, this book is the culmination of many years of penetrating work. It is the definitive presentation of some of Nicholas Rescher's most fascinating ideas and is an engaging source for philosophers and non-philosophers alike. (shrink)
Over the past thirty years Paul Feyerabend has developed an extremely distinctive and influentical approach to problems in the philosophy of science. The most important and seminal of his published essays are collected here in two volumes, with new introductions to provide an overview and historical perspective on the discussions of each part. Volume 1 presents papers on the interpretation of scientific theories, together with papers applying the views developed to particular problems in philosophy and physics. The essays in volume (...) 2 examine the origin and history of an abstract rationalism, as well as its consequences for the philosophy of science and methods of scientific research. Professor Feyerabend argues with great force and imagination for a comprehensive and opportunistic pluralism. In doing so he draws on extensive knowledge of scientific history and practice, and he is alert always to the wider philosophical, practical and political implications of conflicting views. These two volumes fully display the variety of his ideas, and confirm the originality and significance of his work. (shrink)
The belief that science shows an accumulation of a body of objective knowledge has been widely challenged by philosophers and historians in the latter half of this century. In this treatise, Dr. Jardine defends this belief with a careful appreciation of the complexities involved, drawing on many controversial issues concerning truth in science, interpretation of past theories, and grounds of scientific method.
In this book, Carl Cranor utilizes material from ethics, philosophy of law, epidemiology, tort law, regulatory law, and risk assessment to argue that the evidentiary standards for science used in the law to control toxics ought to be ...
This new edition brings up to date this accessible study of the philosophy of science. Since the time of Plato and Aristotle, scientists and philosophers have raised questions about the proper evaluation of scientific interpretations. A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science is an exposition of differing viewpoints on issues such as the distinction between scientific inquiry and other types of interpretation, the relationship between theories and observation reports; the evaluation of competing theories; and the nature of progress in (...) science. The author makes accessible the philosophy of science to readers who may not have extensive knowledge of formal logic or the history of the several sciences. The third edition incorporates an extended discussion of recent developments. Historicist critics of Logical Empiricism have established that evaluative standards and cognitive aims have changed within the history of science. This edition examines these changes, the recent controversies over scientific realism, casual theories of explanation, Bayesian theories of confirmation, and the search for a non-prescriptive philosophy of science. philosophers have raised questions about the proper evaluation of scientific interpretations. This is a lucid and accessible introduction to the philosophy of science, ideal for readers who may not have the extensive knowledge of formal logic or the history of the several sciences. This new edition includes an extended discussion of such recent developments and controversies as new approaches to evaluative standards and cognitive aims, scientific realism, causal theories of explanation, Bayesian theories of confirmation, and the search for a non-prescriptive philosophy of science. (shrink)