Understanding Philosophy of Science

Understanding Philosophy of Science

Understanding Philosophy of Science

Understanding Philosophy of Science

Synopsis

Few can imagine a world without telephones or televisions; many depend on computers and the Internet as part of daily life. Without scientific theory, these developments would not have been possible.In this exceptionally clear and engaging introduction to philosophy of science, James Ladyman explores the philosophical questions that arise when we reflect on the nature of the scientific method and the knowledge it produces. He discusses whether fundamental philosophical questions about knowledge and reality might be answered by science, and considers in detail the debate between realists and antirealists about the extent of scientific knowledge. Along the way, central topics in philosophy of science, such as the demarcation of science from non-science, induction, confirmation and falsification, the relationship between theory and observation and relativism are all addressed. Important and complex current debates over underdetermination, inference to the best explaination and the implications of radical theory change are clarified and clearly explained for those new to the subject.

Excerpt

This book is intended to provide an introduction to the philosophy of science. In particular, it is aimed at science students taking a philosophy of science course but no other philosophy classes, as well as at those students who are studying philosophy of science as part of a philosophy degree. Hence, I have assumed no prior knowledge of philosophy, and I have not relied upon detailed knowledge of science either. I have also avoided using any mathematics. This means that some issues are not discussed despite their interest. For example, the implications of quantum mechanics for philosophy of science, and the mathematical theory of probability and its use in modelling scientific reasoning are not dealt with here. Nonetheless, an introductory text need not be superficial and I have tried to offer an analysis of various issues, such as induction, underdetermination and scientific realism from which even graduate students and professional philosophers may benefit. My aim throughout has been to make the reader aware of questions about which they may never have thought, and then to lead them through a philosophical investigation of them in order that they appreciate the strength of arguments on all sides, rather than to offer my own views. Hence, there are few answers to be found in what follows and if my readers are left puzzled where previously they were comfortable then I will be satisfied.

I hope this book will also interest scientists and general readers who are curious about the philosophy of science. I have tried to keep the exposition clear and accessible throughout, and also to illustrate important lines of argument with everyday and scientific examples. However, the reader will find that the discussion in Chapter 5 is

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