Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Defending Copernicus and Galileo: Critical Reasoning in the Two Affairs

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Defending Copernicus and Galileo: Critical Reasoning in the Two Affairs

Article excerpt

Defending Copernicus and Galileo: Critical Reasoning in the Two Affairs. By Maurice A. Finocchiaro. [Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 280.] (New York: Springer. 2010. Pp. xliv, 350. $99.95. ISBN 978-9-04813200-3.)

Why yet another book on the so-called Galileo Affair in view of the extensive literature already available? This question is further exacerbated by the fact that this work provides no new historical data. However, the merit of this work is that it approaches the whole affair by attempting to offer a defense of Galileo by employing the same critical reasoning that Galileo himself used in defending Copernicus. Much of the book is, in fact, a study in the epistemology of critical reasoning in science, and it makes an important contribution to the very meaning of science by studying the origins of modern science in Galileo's research techniques. The author uses this overarching theme of critical reasoning to offer a synthesis of his numerous previous publications on the Galileo Affair. In so doing, however, the treatment becomes unduly repetitious, and this makes for difficult reading. In fact, the author reveals that this work is a collection of previously published papers. It would have been a much more readable book had there been more careful editing to weave the previous publications together into a more unified presentation.

Chapters 1 and 2 essentially cover material that is available in general astronomy textbooks, and it could have been presented here much more succinctly. By far, one of the best presentations in this book is section 4.5, where the author treats of Galileo's letter to the Grand Duchess Christina Medici on the interpretation of scripture. His analysis is thorough, concise, and convincing. He correctly identifies the central argument of Galileo in his letter that, although we may accept that scripture cannot err, one may clearly err in the interpretation of scripture. The author then provides an excellent discussion of Galileo's views on the various ways in which scripture may be interpreted. Galileo concludes, according to the author, that in no place does scripture teach scientific facts and, therefore, cannot contradict science. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.