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© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Philosophy of Science: Selected full-text books and articles

Philosophy of Science after Feminism By Janet A. Kourany Oxford University Press, 2010
Studies in Explanation: A Reader in the Philosophy of Science By Russell Kahl Prentice-Hall, 1963
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Science & Reason By Henry E. Kyburg Jr Oxford University Press, 1990
Theory-Change and the Logic of Enquiry: New Bearings in Philosophy of Science By Norris, Christopher The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 53, No. 1, September 1999
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