Philosophy of Science

philosophy of science, branch of philosophy that emerged as an autonomous discipline in the 19th cent., especially through the work of Auguste Comte, J. S. Mill, and William Whewell. Several of the issues in philosophy of science concern science in general. David Hume raised a problem of induction, namely that of the grounds people have for believing that past generalizations, i.e., scientific laws, will be valid in the future. Sir Karl Popper and Nelson Goodman have made influential contributions to issues concerning induction in science. Another issue centers around the relations of scientific theories to the interpretation of the world. An additional general issue concerns the way science develops. Contemporary philosophers such as Thomas Kuhn have denied the thesis of the logical positivists (see logical positivism) that scientists choose between competing theories in a purely rational fashion, i.e., by appealing to theory-neutral observations. The philosophy of science also focuses on issues raised by the relations between individual sciences and by individual sciences themselves. An example of the former is the issue of whether the laws of one science, e.g., biology, can be reduced to those of a supposedly more fundamental one, e.g., physics. An example of the latter sort of issue is that of the implications of quantum mechanics for our understanding of causality.

See R. Boyd et al., ed., The Philosophy of Science (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction
Samir Okasha.
Oxford University Press, 2002
Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction
Alex Rosenberg.
Routledge, 2000
Philosophy of Science after Feminism
Janet A. Kourany.
Oxford University Press, 2010
Understanding Philosophy of Science
James Ladyman.
Routledge, 2002
Philosophy of Science: An Overview for Cognitive Science
William Bechtel.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1988
Philosophy of Science and Historical Enquiry
John Losee.
Clarendon Press, 1987
The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1210-1685
Stephen Gaukroger.
Oxford University Press, 2006
Philosophy of Science: A Formal Approach
Henry E. Kyburg Jr.
Macmillan, 1968
Studies in Explanation: A Reader in the Philosophy of Science
Russell Kahl.
Prentice-Hall, 1963
Philosophy of Science, Logic, and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century
Stuart G. Shanker.
Routledge, 1996
Philosophies of Science/Feminist Theories
Jane Duran.
Westview Press, 1998
Science & Reason
Henry E. Kyburg Jr.
Oxford University Press, 1990
Theory-Change and the Logic of Enquiry: New Bearings in Philosophy of Science
Norris, Christopher.
The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 53, No. 1, September 1999
Philosophy of Science Matters: The Philosophy of Peter Achinstein
Gregory J. Morgan.
Oxford University Press, 2011
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