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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (30 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192802836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192802835
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 1 x 11.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

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)

About the Author

Samir Okasha is currently Lecturer in Philosophy, University of York. He has published numerous articles in philosophy journals, in the areas of philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and epistemology. He has previously held a Jacobean Fellowship in Philosophy at University of London and has taught at the University of Mexico.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By filthmonkey on 10 April 2006
Format: Paperback
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 By M. J. Robinson on 31 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
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 on 12 Oct. 2010
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 By A Customer on 18 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
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 By Mark Hurst on 30 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
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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