What academic reviewers have written (and what I think):
.What academic reviewers have written (and what I think):
"Alex Birds book gives philosophical textbooks a good name. Students studying philosophy of science will be in his debt; professionals will be stimulated and provoked."
(Professor Peter Lipton, Cambridge University, writing in The British Journal of the Philosophy of Science)
"This book is part of the Fundamentals of Philosophy series, edited by John Shand, offering introductions to core areas of philosophy which are "not mere bland expositions, and as such are original pieces of philosophy in their own right". Alexander Birds book meets this remit admirably. . . He provides a single line of argument that represents an excellent introduction to the current state of thinkng in one the chief areas of human thought."
(Dr Stephen Mumford, Nottingham University, writing in Mind)
My own comments:
As these reviewers suggest, my aim in writing this book was to give a critical overview of the philosophy of science as it is currently practiced in the English-speaking world, while at the same time providing my own, unified view of the subject.
Much of this is epistemology, looking at such questions as: What can we know in science? What is it rational to believe? How do scientists use probability in their thinking? Can we know about unobservable entities? Is there a scientific method? How and why do science and scientific theories change and develop?
But much is also concerned with metaphysics, and I think my book is unusual among philosophy of science texts in having more metaphysics than most. So the first half of the book discusses questions such as: What ere laws of nature? What is explanation? How does causation relate to laws and explanation? Are there any natural kinds? To what extent does science deal with an unobservable reality?
The book introduces these questions by looking at the recent, indeed current debate over the teaching of so-called creation science in parts of the United States. Is it really a science? What makes something a science anyway?
As some of the reviewers on this page have noted, I do not deal with important questions such as the ethics of scientific research, or social problems of the application of science in technology. These are vital questions, but because they are so important they are better addressed by those with special expertise in moral and social philosophy. I hope my book will nonetheless help those who are interested in such questions by helping them see what science is about and to what extent claims to scientific knowledge are justified.