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Philosophy Of Science (Fundamentals of Philosophy) Paperback – 11 May 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (11 May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857285042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857285048
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Author

What academic reviewers have written (and what I think):
.What academic reviewers have written (and what I think):

"Alex Bird’s 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 Bird’s 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.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is good. I would like to take issue with Dr Goddard-Smith and say this book is not misleading. It is clear, well laid out and has some good use of examples from science to illustrate some usually complex topics. It *is* limited, and there is too little attention to morals, but this doesn't detract from it being a good little book which any student of philosophy will definitely benefit from reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
This book explores all the current issues facing the philosophy of science. It tackles them in a clear manner, introducing new concepts in a lively way.
Whilst designed primarily for undergraduates, it also is excellent for those who wish to broaden their scientific knowledge or find out more about this field of science.
A great read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an ideal textbook for any student of the philosophy of science who finds the traditionally dry and boring articles a little hard to tie together. While not really offering anything exciting (despite the rave review it received by Peter Lipton, Cambridge University) it is mostly reliable, if a little simplistic in parts. There are a few typographical errors which ought not to have crept into the final print, but this does not really detract from its user friendliness. Ideal if you wish to survey a complex subject, or revise for an exam.
However, it is let down by its conventional approach. Biology is not really dealt with in depth, and the ethics of scientific inquiry, surely one of the most pressing issues in the philosophy of science today, is sadly cast aside for the sake of traditional and less relevant discussions about the Kuhn/Popper debate on scientific revolutions.
A note of warning. Bird is very biased against the Sociology of Science programme proposed by a colleague at Edinburgh University, David Bloor. The section on him ought to be read with several shakes of salt.
In short, Bird has produced a worthy primer for the student of analytic philosophy of science who has a penchant for the epistemological problems thereby provoked.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 May 2004
Format: Paperback
This is book is neither scary, nor amazing, nor disappointing or misleading. Rather, it is a concise, solid and thorough introduction to philosophy of science. As such, it covers all the major topics in a typical (Anglo-American) university course on philosophy of science -- explanation, theory change, scientific realism, laws of nature, causation. Neighbouring fields are also discussed in some detail, plus some (at times original) new examples. The author makes clear that he has no intention of covering non-standard (or non-philosophical) approaches to science -- hence, there is little history of science, no detailed case studies and no SSK or science studies. The author is open about these limits, and this is why the self-imposed restrictions can hardly be seen as "misleading".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very solid introduction to some aspects of the philosophy of science. This book is particularly strong when it comes to explaining and critiquing induction and scientific method. (It is less strong, in fact largely misses out other aspects of the philosophy of science). I think this book will primarily interest a philosophy student at undergraduate level who is focussing on topics like methodology and induction - and if that is what you want then this book will be a very good choices. It is sufficiently deep, not very technical and pretty easy to read. However, there are other introductions (e.g. Alex Rosenberg's) which cover a wider range, although not so good on methodology, with a more stimulating writing style. Bird is a bit dry at times. If you want a general read on philosophy of science or other things than methodology then perhaps try elsewhere.
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