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Understanding Philosophy of Science Hardcover – 20 Dec 2001


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (20 Dec. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415221560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415221566
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,365,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

..."engagingly lucid... If one had to choose a single book from a crowded growing field, this might be it."
-"Choice
"If one had to choose a single book from a crowded, growing field, this might be it.."
-"CHOICE, M. Schiff, College of Staten Island, CUNY
"An excellent introduction to philosophy of science that can be recommended as a starting point to the general reader... The writing is exceptionally clear and the text is enlivened by periodic snippets of dialogue between enthusiastic science lover Alice and her more sceptical friend Thomas."
-"Network
"Ladyman... avoids superficiality and addresses topics with a depth that will engage advanced students as well as working scientists and philosophers."
-Book News, Inc.

About the Author

James Ladyman is Senior Lecturer in philosophy at the University of Bristol

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In many ways, our age is no different from any other: most people work hard merely to survive, while a few live in the lap of luxury; many perish in wars and conflicts, the causes of which they have no control over; the cycle of birth, reproduction and death is fundamentally the same for us as it was for our distant ancestors. Read the first page
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alex B on 16 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
It is a rare treat for a leading, globally respected philosopher, specialising in a relatively narrow and technical field, to write a general, pitched to any undergraduate, textbook. Ladyman does not disappoint and it was unsurprising that this incredibly clear, non-technical and thorough introduction has been richly rewarded with the ultra-prestigious Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award. It should be noted here that the book's emphasis is very much on natural, rather than social science. And whilst there is obviously some degree of overlap, it may have been more accurate for this book to have been called Philosophy of Natural Science.

Understanding Philosophy of Science is, very sensibly, split into two parts. The first part deals with methodology. Here Ladyman kicks off with a lengthy and fruitful taxonomy on the historical formation and subtle variants of induction before proceeding to a beautifully clear analysis on the so-called 'problem of induction', which seeks to understand whether, if ever, we can make inferences from observed cases to unobserved ones. Using Ladyman's example, heat has always expanded when heated in the past, but what is to say it will do that next time? Is it fair to make such an inference? Or, objects have always fallen in the past, but can we infer they will do so next time we drop one? Ladyman then goes into the key arguments for and against such inference. He introduces ten reasons to adopt inductive reasoning and whilst there is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a little repetition here (circularity is alluded to a few times) it is a more than useful analysis. Ladyman then provides an entertaining a crystal clear look at the twentieth century philosopher Karl Popper.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
There are quite a few accessible, useful and well-written introductory books in philosophy of science available at present. (Good examples include books by Anthony O'Hear, A. F. Chalmers, Alex Rosenberg and Alexander Bird.) However, James Ladyman's new book is far and away the best introduction to philosophy of science now available in Britain. Why? Well, designing a good textbook is basically a matter of knowing what to concentrate on and what to leave out, and Ladyman knows exactly the areas to concentrate on. Ladyman looks at two key questions:- firstly, what, if anything, is distinctive about scientific method?; and secondly, do successful scientific theories serve as reliable guides to how the world actually is? Here we have the two key questions in philosophy of science - one about the methods of science and the other about its aims. This two-part framework allows Ladyman a lot of room to pursue interesting and relevant issues in science and its justification, taking in key figures like Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn en route. It's a well-structured book for the student, with a lot of helpful discussion material and useful suggestions for further reading. If you're at all interested in learning about the philosophy of
science, you really ought to start here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Maggie S on 5 May 2010
Format: Paperback
As a Masters student, I feel like this is one of the best books of its type that I've come across. Sometimes you need a book that can cut past all the complicated and excessively long thick description and teach you the basics without being patronising. It's also great as a refresher book, with some really good examples taken from day-to-day life and non-frustrating socratic dialogue (which is a rare occurence...).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pablo Bigasso on 11 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
Having studied philosophy at university many years ago I found this book provided a superb re-introduction to an area that I'd always had some interest in but not focused on at the time.

The first half provides as clear and concise accounts of demarcation, inductivism, falsification and epistemology as will be found anywhere; Hume, Popper, Kuhn at al are all covered in a very clear and precise style. The second half updated my knowledge of the field considerably with developments in underdetermination and theory change that have taken place since my degree. I'll admit that I didn't find all of these areas straightforward but that was by no means a reflection on the quality of the writing but rather on the challenges of the subject matter. Ladyman has produced an excellent introduction to the subject for the undergraduate or layman that also manages to deal admirably with some of the complexities a post-graduate student would have to tackle.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
First things first: This is not a bad book. It approaches the philosophy of science in very general terms: Ladyman's terms are the layman's term, and I mean this as a compliment. But the book has also some serious flaws: It doesn't go into nearly enough detail to make it a useful textbook at university level; it is probably aimed at first-year students or high-school seniors who aren't quite sure what all this buzz about philosophy of science is about. It is difficult to imagine this book as the basis of a solid course in philosophy of science -- partly because the presentation is skewed towards the author's personal views, which means the book is not as impartial as it should be and does not nearly present a representative cross-section of positions in the field. Also, the suggestions for "further reading" are of marginal usefulness, which after reading the book leaves one at a bit of a loss where to continue. Any professional reader, including students enrolled in introductory Philosophy of Science courses, would be better off investing into a good anthology, of which there are several. Some, such as the Curd/Cover anthology "Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues", also include many good introductory chapters; others, such as the MIT Press volume "The Philosophy of Science" (Boyd et al.) represent the complete spectrum. As supplementary reading, Ladyman's book has a place in the literature, but it does not suffice as a 'stand-alone' companion for serious study.
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