Arguing About Science (Arguing About Philosophy) Paperback – 23 Aug 2012
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"Ideal for introducing students and scholars to the wide range of questions addressed by philosophers of science - not only perennial questions in metaphysics and epistemology, but also contemporary questions at the intersection of science, public policy, and culture." - Marc Lange, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
"An outstanding collection of essays - old classics and new hits - that survey the traditional heartlands of philosophy of science and explore unmapped territories. I know of no other collection that has this broad scope and comprehensiveness. Students will find no better place to start their philosophical engagement with science." – Stathis Psillos, University of Athens, Greece
"Combines classic topics like evidence and explanation with timely applications like gender, medicine, and forensic science. Especially noteworthy is Bird and Ladyman’s engaging treatment of the central role of uncertainty in science and its applications. Careful introductions make technical material accessible to introductory students." - Stuart Glennan, Butler University, USA
About the Author
Alexander Bird is a Professor of Philosophy and Faculty of Arts Research Director at Bristol University, UK. His previous publications include Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties (2007), and Philosophy of Science (Routledge/McGill-Queens University Press, 1998).
James Ladyman is a Professor of Philosophy at Bristol University UK. He is the author (with Ross, Collier, and Spurrett) of Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalised (2007), and of the CHOICE awarding-winning book Understanding Philosophy of Science, also published by Routledge (2001).
Top Customer Reviews
The two Bristol professors who edit this book are both brilliant scholars, and this shines through in the careful chronology and introduction. A minor niggle is that they could have included more of their own material, to really engage the student or general reader.*
There's not much else to add really, it does what it sets out to do, and it does it well.
Minor irrelevant plug - one of the authors (Ladyman) has also published a fairly scandalous (in the world of philosophy of science) book, that is far more interesting then an introductory survey ("Every Thing Must Go") - if 'Arguing About Science' turns you onto the field, I would highly recommend just jumping into the deep end of the pool with Prof Ladyman's brilliant book next!
*To be fair Prof Bird does allude to his own research in part 5, not enough in this reviewers view.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That said, this is the worst philosophy anthology I own. That's not to say it's a terrible book (see the above paragraph). But I just don't like it. I'll give you some examples of what makes it substandard. First, the section introductions aren't always illuminating about the section's theme. But that's a small complaint.
A larger complaint I have is that there are some sections that just don't belong in this book. Take the section on science, race, and gender. I understand why it's there. It's there to appease social scientists who enroll in a phil science class. Cool. But the readings in it are annoying. Some ramble around a point without saying a whole lot (I'm looking at you Lucius T. Outlaw. You're awesome name and stellar reputation don't make up for this annoying paper where you don't really say anything). Some are filled with almost incomprehensible jargon pulled from the dregs of sociology departments. But every one I read had the same basic theme: Hey look, science doesn't have anything positive to say about racial/gender discrimination, so we should not be racists and/or sexist. Honestly, if you need to be told something that from a book with some of the great works of the philosophy of science in it, then something went seriously wrong with your upbringing and you clearly never met a person who wasn't as lily-white and male as you. For a book published in 2013, you'd think they wouldn't have to resort to such things. I mean, sure racism is alive and well. So is sexism. But scientific support for either was an endangered species before I was born and any scientist today who says their research supports significant racial stigmatization is going to be looked at with the same mix of mild curiosity and pity that we'd look at an elderly chimp that just discovered masturbation. Granted, it isn't too hard to find someone trying to support some sexist agenda with science, but those people are horrible and should be marginalized. I don't need Sally Haslanger (who is awesome!) to tell me that. I also learned way too much about some of the more horrific mating practices in the natural kingdom. Thanks Helena Cronin!
So far, these examples just look like me complaining about things I'm either a) snobbishly unimpressed by, or b) generally uninterested in. Fair enough. How about this: Bird and Ladyman are terrible editors. I'll give you a concrete example. Say you're curious about the Inference to the Best Explanation. That's a neat idea in phil science, right? Well, let's say you want to see which selections in this book talk about it. So you go to the index and look it up. Hmm...only two entries. What? One of them is a section intro by Bird and Ladyman themselves. Okay, what about the other page...Oh, it's a reference to IBE in the last paragraph of a paper by Peter Lipton that doesn't even define the term. Well, you think to yourself, surely there must be more on IBE in a phil science anthology of this size and breadth. And you'd be right. For instance, if you look at the classic and much-utilized-in-these-types-of collections excerpt from van Fraassen's The Scientific Image, you'll find there's an entire section on IBE. Is it mentioned in the index? No. Why? Because, that's why.
If you're interested in a phil science anthology, go with Curd and Cover. At least those guys can properly index their freakin book.