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Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Samir Okasha
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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the book is extremely readable and, I was delighted to discover, extremely sensible...I wouldn't have missed the trip for all the tea in Harrods (John Ewing, Nurturing Potential)

This book gives an excellent sense of what keeps philosophers of science awake at night. The issues and the arguments are presented with stunning clarity. For those who want a first taste of our subject, Samir Okasha's Introduction is ideal. (Peter Lipton, University of Cambridge)

Product Description

What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scientific explanation, revolutions in science, and theories such as realism and anti-realism. He also looks at
philosophical issues in particular sciences, including the problem of classification in biology, and the nature of space and time in physics. The final chapter touches on the conflicts between science and religion, and explores whether science is ultimately a good thing.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic introduction 10 April 2006
The "A Very Short Introduction" series doesn't always come up with good books, but this one is a gem. It really is. It introduces the basics first: deduction, induction, etc. and goes on to talk about the problem of induction, Hume's criticism of it, whether thinking about probability and causation can help. The discussion moves then onto realists vs. anti-realists. The highly influential philosopher Thomas Kuhn is also well covered. Finally, the book covers some problems in biology and physics and generally that result from science. The book is brief and you can read it in a long evening or maybe two short ones, if you're not already familiar with the subject. Most importantly, the author manages to realise that newcomers to the subject deserve a gentle ride, and he does this by writing very accessibly and using plenty of easy-to-understand examples. I would recommend this to anybody trying to find a way into the philosophy of science. Of course, being a "very short introduction" this book doesn't tend to go into very much detail or cover everything that philosophy of science entails. But a very short introduction can't have everything. For beginners I think it is ideal, and that is what it aims to be. Highly recommended.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book 31 Aug 2006
I found this book very clear, comprehensible and enjoyable.

It starts off with a brief history of modern physics and some biology. It then discusses deduction and induction and goes on look at explanation in science and outlines problems associated with these ideas. It then outlines the realist v anti-realist debate.

The philosophy of Popper and Kuhn are critically outlined and there is a chapter on the critics of science. There is also a chapter on specific problems in physics, biology and psychology.

Because there is obviously limited space in a book of this size, it is unable to cover some of the important philosophies of science that have been developed since Kuhn.

However, I thought this book was well written and ideal for the layman wanting an intoduction to this field, and certainly whets the appetite to find out more. Thoroughly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By T. West
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first book i've read dedicated to the philosophy of science and it won't be the last, because it has introduced some deeply important questions about fundamental reasoning and what makes science work. It will challenge a lot of preconceptions using well-structured arguments and real world examples, and gives a good account of how science progresses, the thinking behind Popper's ideas of falsification (it turns out not as cut and dry as many think), and introduces Kuhn's groundbreaking theories on scientific progress and Paradigm shifts, offering sustained criticism from logic of both empiricist views and those from Kuhn. There is a quick disclaimer for those who would cite Kuhn's work as giving impetus to cultural relativism, and there are some good examples of philosophical problems in science, such as the notion of absolute space and biological classification. there are also some great arguments for the realist-anti-realist debate, a debate I had not really thought existed.

Personally, I would've liked a little more about Karl Popper's theories, but that is trivial. The book is a short one and does give a good account of how science progressed to this point in the first chapter, which sets the scene nicely.

An excellent read for both scientists and philosophers.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great for beginners 18 Feb 2003
By A Customer
As a relative newcomer to the subject, I found the book fascinating. It is full of illustrations which explain and break up the text, and it is small, so I didn't feel oppressed by a huge weight of knowledge that I might feel obliged to wade through. Very approachable and very readable - Five stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little book of big ideas 30 Sep 2008
A great little book that introduces the major debates with enough detail to whet the appetite but not enough to intimidate. As befits a book of this nature, the author sensibly avoids polemic and other rhetorical baggage in favour of clear writing, leaving the reader free to concentrate on the ideas. The result is straightforward, unpretentious and concise.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideas of science 29 Aug 2009
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Philosophy of Science: A very short introduction by Samir Okasha, Oxford, 2002, 160 ff.

The ideas of science
By Howard A. Jones

There are several books available on the philosophy of science and they all have different ideas about what this topic should involve. This book by a lecturer in philosophy at the University of York approaches the subject from a truly philosophical viewpoint, exploring the concepts involved in science. It is however a book aimed at a general readership and I think the only serious competitor at this level is the treatment by O'Hear.

After a short exploration of what the word `science' should mean, Okasha gives a resume of some revolutionary scientific ideas of the past five centuries - those of Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Darwin and Einstein. Logical positivism and Karl Popper's ideology feature prominently in the discussion of science and pseudo-science.

The difference between the certainty of mathematical deduction and the probability generated by scientific induction is well explained in the next chapters: Hume's views on the subject and the application of Occam's razor and Carl Hempel's covering law model of explanation are discussed. This is followed by two excellent chapters on the distinction between realism and idealism (or anti-realism) in science and the significance of the seminal work on philosophy of science by Kuhn.

The penultimate chapter deals with the world-views of Newton and Leibniz, and the philosophy of some of the applied sciences. The final chapter is on science and its limitations: here, scientism, science and morality and the science vs. religion debate is explored.

There is an extensive Further Reading list in just a few pages and a useful index.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction.
Great introduction into the philosophy of science. Easy to understand and surprisingly comprehensive, though not too deep. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Florian Weber
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal Introduction
If you're interested in the philosophy of science, this is a great place to start: it's cheap, it's lucid, it provides a broad overview and a comprehensive set of suggestions for... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ian Brawn
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for new PhD students
Well written. Clear and simple.
It covers all necessary topics in philosophy of science.
Good for new researchers regardless of their area of interest.
Published 4 months ago by Wisal Al Bulushi
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent read.
The book gives a very good and cogent overview of the topic explaining complex ideas in a clear and understandable way.
Published 7 months ago by Benji woolf
5.0 out of 5 stars accessible and informative
A clear and concise summary - good at relating different theories to one another. A good introductory overview of the subject.
Published 10 months ago by bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted, helpful book
This book de-mystifies scientific thinking for the non-scientist. Anyone who is not a scientist but who deals regularly with scientists will find this book extremely helpful in... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Allan Bantick
5.0 out of 5 stars worth to buy!
This book provides clear explanations and covers the important issues in Philosophy of sciences with easy-read writing style! I like it!
Published 13 months ago by Kringpaka Wangkulangkul
3.0 out of 5 stars Appetizer
I know the title reads as "A Very Short Introduction.." but neverthless this book should in my opinion be less ..short. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Francisco Amaral
5.0 out of 5 stars Great intro book
A good starting point to wet he appetite, not a huge book but it certainly poses many questions which may get the reader searching for more answers.
Published 20 months ago by Wj Guymer
4.0 out of 5 stars A Really Very Short Introduction
I picked this up as I hadn't realised that there truly was a `philosophy of science'. If there is, I don't think this book properly demonstrates it. Read more
Published on 9 April 2012 by anozama
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Popular Highlights

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In inductive inference, or inductive reasoning, we move from premisses about objects we have examined to conclusions about objects we haven’t examined &quote;
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Karl Popper, an influential 20th-century philosopher of science, thought that the fundamental feature of a scientific theory is that it should be falsifiable. &quote;
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This is a deductive inference because it has the following property: if the premisses are true, then the conclusion must be true too. &quote;
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