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on 21 October 2014
This third edition expands considerably on its already very useful predecessors. Chalmers writes clearly and vividly, and this is a readable and - generally speaking - reliable survey of the field, so far as I am any judge.

He does not always get it right, it has to be said: I am personally quite interested in Bayesian approaches to science, and though these methods have their weaknesses, Chalmers does not understand enough about the subject to pinpoint them accurately. In fact his criticisms of Bayesian methods betray, I am sorry to have to say, an ignorance of probability and statistics which makes his chapter on this the weakest of the lot.

But the introduction to Deborah Mayo's "New experimentalism" was a revelation to me. Moreover his broad conclusion - that there is not and can never be a once-for-all authoritative approach to science valid in all times and all places - seems to me to be well argued.

He builds on what was already a good survey of induction, and the approaches of Popper, Kuhn, and their successors, in previous editions. One way in which the discussion on induction might have been improved would be to draw the distinction between abduction (or retroduction) and induction made by Peirce and discussed by Hanson in his classic "Patterns of Discovery". This is a useful way to help untangle what is otherwise a complex and confusing concept, given that induction as usually described is actually two processes, not one.

But overall, this book is the best short introduction to the subject that I have encountered.
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If you had to select a single volume to introduce the Philosophy of Science, you would be hard pressed to find a better book. The history and development of the major differing interpretations of Science are explained in a logical fashion - although the book does often lead the reader to pause for thought (this is not intended as a criticism!) and both the strengths and limitations of the models are discussed.

However, this comes with one note of caution - if you do not have some back ground or at least an interest in the Physical Sciences you may find some of the contexts used by the author rather heavy going.
There is little question that the simple picture of science as simply being a study the proceeds from observation to hypothesis to verification is simple to understand and probably entirely false. Equally, Science being seen as process that leads to the accumulation of factual material stumbles when whole new areas of Science are developed.

With the caution noted above, this book comes highly recommended.
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on 8 January 2014
This book will change the way you think. Written in a clear and comprehensive language, and ridden with examples, it may be one of the best introductions to the philosophy of science available. The proof are the innumerable re-editions it has been subjected to since it was first published, and I have heard that it is often recommended to physics students in college. A mandatory read for anyone interested in philosophy of science, or simply one that wishes to know what science is and why it occupies a specific place in society.
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on 11 November 2000
What is it that sets "science" apart from "non-sciences"? Do these terms have any real meaning? What constitutes a science? In this, the 3rd edition of Chalmers' acclaimed introduction to the philosophy of science, notions of what the scientific method entails are critically examined and compared . Stylistically very accessible, Chalmers provides detailed introductions to the more note-worthy areas of phil. of science & suggests further reading for each area within the field. Inductivism and the opposing school of Falsificationism are handled thoroughly and with great clarity. Chalmers then details and assesses the contributions of Quine, Kuhn, Feyerabend et al. to theory of science . A very impressive and compelling introduction to philosophy of science. It should be on every science undergraduate's reading-list.
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on 17 October 2002
As a historian of science I found this book a very informative and entertaining read. Chalmers has the ability to introduce an idea (say theories as structures), lead you to think it is good (as in an explanation of scientific methology), then take it to pieces in a couple of sentences.
There are a few areas of the book where someone new to the subject might struggle, but they don't last long and the dedicated reader will be rewarded by continuing.
If you have taken the time to find this book, then you should definately add it to your basket!
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on 5 December 2014
This book has opened my eyes in ways that really surprised me. Anyone with an interest in science, particularly in the science popularly accepted as 'true' needs to read this book. Particularly interesting were the references to Aristotle and Copernicus as an example of dominant worldview accepted as true, falling apart as new data was available, but along the way anyone who questioned it was silenced. Well, well, worth a read.
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on 28 January 2002
Several students from my second undergraduate year took a semester long course based upon this book - in conjunction with the physics department. What resulted was a realisation of how deeply en-meshed we had each become in our respective disciplines.
The first few chapters are relatively easy to follow, and seem explanatory and clear - except that you find yourself agreeing with every model of science he proposes - but when he gets on to the colour 'grue' things begin to go awry.
Don't tackle this one unless you are ready to read and re-read a single sentence repeatedly in order to get some idea of its meaning. This one is a tough cookie! As a psychologist, I'd recommend it to philosophists.
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on 13 October 2013
A nice overlook on Science Philosophy, good for your brain.
Can you know the truth? And, if possible, if you change point of view it remain truth?
After all I prefer Galilei's simple inductivism
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on 3 November 2013
This is a good book, clear, informative, and well-written. I would recommend it for other students teachers alongside other books.
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on 8 September 2004
As we are now on the third edition, I would have thought that maybe a proof reader or someone in the long list of acknowledgements might have suggested to Chalmers that he investigates the use of punctuation. It was exhausting, mentally rearranging what felt like almost every sentence into a form that conveyed information sensibly.
Being a physicist, Chalmers bases his discussions in this field. What I thought was unfair was that Chalmers seemed to expect his audience to be familiar with a lot of his examples. When you aren't, it feels like you're floundering through vast tracts of text until he eventually explains himself. Numbed by wrestling with syntax and my innate hatred of physics, it became difficult to think about the theories and apply them to other examples.
Often recommended as an introduction to the philosophy of science, I expected it to be written in a more accessible style. Reading this was a chore rather than a thought provoking journey through the history of how we think about science. It hasn't put me off the subject, I'm also happy to have learnt more about Copernicus and Galileo that I anticipated. This experience has inspired me to find a disscussion more suited to my interests and style of reading.
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