Top critical review
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reliable introduction to an often overtly technical field
on 4 January 2000
This is an ideal textbook for any student of the philosophy of science who finds the traditionally dry and boring articles a little hard to tie together. While not really offering anything exciting (despite the rave review it received by Peter Lipton, Cambridge University) it is mostly reliable, if a little simplistic in parts. There are a few typographical errors which ought not to have crept into the final print, but this does not really detract from its user friendliness. Ideal if you wish to survey a complex subject, or revise for an exam.
However, it is let down by its conventional approach. Biology is not really dealt with in depth, and the ethics of scientific inquiry, surely one of the most pressing issues in the philosophy of science today, is sadly cast aside for the sake of traditional and less relevant discussions about the Kuhn/Popper debate on scientific revolutions.
A note of warning. Bird is very biased against the Sociology of Science programme proposed by a colleague at Edinburgh University, David Bloor. The section on him ought to be read with several shakes of salt.
In short, Bird has produced a worthy primer for the student of analytic philosophy of science who has a penchant for the epistemological problems thereby provoked.