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Philosophy of Science
"The philosophy of science includes identifying what distinguishes good science from bad." --Matt Haber, U of U philosopher
Philosophy of Science Books
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were--and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don't arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of "normal science," as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. This new edition of Kuhn's essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn's ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking's introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.
Call Number: LVL 2: Q175 .K95 2012
The Copernican Revolution by For scientist and layman alike this book provides vivid evidence that the Copernican Revolution has by no means lost its significance today. Few episodes in the development of scientific theory show so clearly how the solution to a highly technical problem can alter our basic thought processes and attitudes. Understanding the processes which underlay the Revolution gives us a perspective, in this scientific age, from which to evaluate our own beliefs more intelligently. With a constant keen awareness of the inseparable mixture of its technical, philosophical, and humanistic elements, Thomas S. Kuhn displays the full scope of the Copernican Revolution as simultaneously an episode in the internal development of astronomy, a critical turning point in the evolution of scientific thought, and a crisis in Western man's concept of his relation to the universe and to God.The book begins with a description of the first scientific cosmology developed by the Greeks. Mr. Kuhn thus prepares the way for a continuing analysis of the relation between theory and observation and belief. He describes the many functions--astronomical, scientific, and nonscientific--of the Greek concept of the universe, concentrating especially on the religious implications. He then treats the intellectual, social, and economic developments which nurtured Copernicus' break with traditional astronomy. Although many of these developments, including scholastic criticism of Aristotle's theory of motion and the Renaissance revival of Neoplatonism, lie entirely outside of astronomy, they increased the flexibility of the astronomer's imagination. That new flexibility is apparent in the work of Copernicus, whose De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) is discussed in detail both for its own significance and as a representative scientific innovation.With a final analysis of Copernicus' life work--its reception and its contribution to a new scientific concept of the universe--Mr. Kuhn illuminates both the researches that finally made the heliocentric arrangement work, and the achievements in physics and metaphysics that made the planetary earth an integral part of Newtonian science. These are the developments that once again provided man with a coherent and self-consistent conception of the universe and of his own place in it.This is a book for any reader interested in the evolution of ideas and, in particular, in the curious interplay of hypothesis and experiment which is the essence of modern science. Says James Bryant Conant in his Foreword: "Professor Kuhn's handling of the subject merits attention, for...he points the way to the road which must be followed if science is to be assimilated into the culture of our times."
Call Number: LVL 2: QB41.C815 K8 1959
Science as Social Knowledge by Conventional wisdom has it that the sciences, properly pursued, constitute a pure, value-free method of obtaining knowledge about the natural world. In light of the social and normative dimensions of many scientific debates, Helen Longino finds that general accounts of scientific methodology cannot support this common belief. Focusing on the notion of evidence, the author argues that a methodology powerful enough to account for theories of any scope and depth is incapable of ruling out the influence of social and cultural values in the very structuring of knowledge. The objectivity of scientific inquiry can nevertheless be maintained, she proposes, by understanding scientific inquiry as a social rather than an individual process. Seeking to open a dialogue between methodologists and social critics of the sciences, Longino develops this concept of "contextual empiricism" in an analysis of research programs that have drawn criticism from feminists. Examining theories of human evolution and of prenatal hormonal determination of "gender-role" behavior, of sex differences in cognition, and of sexual orientation, the author shows how assumptions laden with social values affect the description, presentation, and interpretation of data. In particular, Longino argues that research on the hormonal basis of "sex-differentiated behavior" involves assumptions not only about gender relations but also about human action and agency. She concludes with a discussion of the relation between science, values, and ideology, based on the work of Habermas, Foucault, Keller, and Haraway.
Call Number: LVL 1: Q175 .L655 1990
How the Laws of Physics Lie by In this sequence of philosophical essays about natural science, Nancy Cartwright argues that fundamental explanatory laws, the deepest and most admired successes of modern physics, do not in fact describe the regularities that exist in nature. Yet she is not `anti-realist'. Rather, she drawsa novel distinction, arguing that theoretical entities, and the complex and localized laws that describe them, can be interpreted realistically, but that the simple unifying laws of basic theory cannot.
Call Number: LVL 1: QC6 .C3586 1983
Philosophy of Science Books cont...
Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge by We may learn from our mistakes, but Deborah Mayo argues that, where experimental knowledge is concerned, we haven't begun to learn enough. "Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge" launches a vigorous critique of the subjective Bayesian view of statistical inference, and proposes Mayo's own error-statistical approach as a more robust framework for the epistemology of experiment. Mayo genuinely addresses the needs of researchers who work with statistical analysis, and simultaneously engages the basic philosophical problems of objectivity and rationality. Mayo has long argued for an account of learning from error that goes far beyond detecting logical inconsistencies. In this book, she presents her complete program for how we learn about the world by being shrewd inquisitors of error, white gloves off. Her tough, practical approach will be important to philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science, and will be welcomed by researchers in the physical, biological, and social sciences whose work depends upon statistical analysis.
The Scientific Image by In this book van Fraassen develops an alternative to scientific realism by constructing and evaluating three mutually reinforcing theories.
Call Number: LVL 1: Q175 V335
Representing and Intervening by This 1983 book is a lively and clearly written introduction to the philosophy of natural science, organized around the central theme of scientific realism. It has two parts. 'Representing' deals with the different philosophical accounts of scientific objectivity and the reality of scientific entities. The views of Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Putnam, van Fraassen, and others, are all considered. 'Intervening' presents the first sustained treatment of experimental science for many years and uses it to give a new direction to debates about realism. Hacking illustrates how experimentation often has a life independent of theory. He argues that although the philosophical problems of scientific realism can not be resolved when put in terms of theory alone, a sound philosophy of experiment provides compelling grounds for a realistic attitude. A great many scientific examples are described in both parts of the book, which also includes lucid expositions of recent high energy physics and a remarkable chapter on the microscope in cell biology.
Call Number: LVL 1: Q175 .H2 1983
The Advancement of Science by During the last three decades, reflections on the growth of scientific knowledge have inspired historians, sociologists, and some philosophers to contend that scientific objectivity is a myth. In this book, Kitcher attempts to resurrect the notions of objectivity and progress in science by identifying both the limitations of idealized treatments of growth of knowledge and the overreactions to philosophical idealizations. Recognizing that science is done not by logically omniscient subjects working in isolation, but by people with a variety of personal and social interests, who cooperate and compete with one another, he argues that, nonetheless, we may conceive the growth of science as a process in which both our vision of nature and our ways of learning more about nature improve. Offering a detailed picture of the advancement of science, he sets a new agenda for the philosophy of science and for other "science studies" disciplines.
Call Number: LVL 1: Q175 .K533 1993