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Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

by Peter Godfrey-Smith University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 288 pages
AU$49.99 NZ$54.78
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How does science work? Does it tell us what the world is ''really'' like? What makes it different from other ways of understanding the universe? In Theory and Reality, Peter Godfrey-Smith addresses these questions by taking the reader on a grand tour of one hundred years of debate about science. The result is a completely accessible introduction to the main themes of the philosophy of science.

Intended for undergraduates and general readers with no prior background in philosophy, Theory and Reality covers logical positivism; the problems of induction and confirmation; Karl Popper's theory of science; Thomas Kuhn and ''scientific revolutions''; the views of Imre Lakatos, Larry Laudan, and Paul Feyerabend; and challenges to the field from sociology of science, feminism, and science studies. The book then looks in more detail at some specific problems and theories, including scientific realism, the theory-ladeness of observation, scientific explanation, and Bayesianism. Finally, Godfrey-Smith defends a form of philosophical naturalism as the best way to solve the main problems in the field.

Throughout the text he points out connections between philosophical debates and wider discussions about science in recent decades, such as the infamous ''science wars.'' Examples and asides engage the beginning student; a glossary of terms explains key concepts; and suggestions for further reading are included at the end of each chapter. However, this is a textbook that doesn't feel like a textbook because it captures the historical drama of changes in how science has been conceived over the last one hundred years.

Like no other text in this field, Theory and Reality combines a survey of recent history of the philosophy of science with current key debates in language that any beginning scholar or critical reader can follow.

A Note for Those Teaching with the Book
. Introduction
. Setting Out
. The Scope of the Theory
. What Kind of Theory?
. Three Answers, or Pieces of an Answer
. Historical Interlude: A Sketch of the Scientific Revolution
Further Reading
. Logic Plus Empiricism
. The Empiricist Tradition
. The Vienna Circle
. Central Ideas of Logical Positivism
. Problems and Changes
. Logical Empiricism
. On the Fall of Logical Empiricism
Further Reading
. Induction and Confirmation
. The Mother of All Problems
. Induction, Deduction, Confirmation, and Explanatory Inference
. The Ravens Problem
. Goodman's ''New Riddle of Induction''
Further Reading
. Popper: Conjecture and Refutation
. Popper's Unique Place in the Philosophy of Science
. Popper's Theory of Science
. Popper on Scientific Change
. Objections to Popper on Falsification
. Objections to Popper on Confirmation
. Further Comments on the Demarcation Problem
Further Reading
. Kuhn and Normal Science
. ''The Paradigm Has Shifted''
. Paradigms: A Closer Look
. Normal Science
. Anomaly and Crisis
. Wrap-up of Normal Science
Further Reading
. Kuhn and Revolutions
. Considerable Upset
. Revolutions and Their Aftermath
. Incommensurability, Relativism, and Progress
. The X-Rated ''Chapter X''
. Final Thoughts on Kuhn
Further Reading
. Lakatos, Laudan, Feyerabend, and Frameworks
. After Structure
. Lakatos and Research Programs
. Laudan and Research Traditions
. Anything Goes
. An Argument from History That Haunts Philosophy
. Pluralism and the Ramblings of Madmen
. Taking Stock: Frameworks and Two-Process Theories of Science
Further Reading
. The Challenge from Sociology of Science
. Beyond Philosophy?
. Robert Merton and the ''Old'' Sociology of Science
. The Rise of the Strong Program
. Leviathan and Latour
Further Reading
. Feminism and Science Studies
. ''Science Is Political''
. The Man of Reason
. The Case of Primatology
. Feminist Epistemology
. Science Studies, the Science Wars, and the Sokal Hoax
Further Reading
. Naturalistic Philosophy in Theory and Practice
. What Is Naturalism?
. Quine, Dewey, and Others
. The Theory-Ladenness of Observation
Further Reading
. Naturalism and the Social Structure of Science
. Science as a Process
. Kitcher and the Division of Scientific Labor
. Social Structure and Empiricism
Further Reading
. Scientific Realism
. Strange Debates
. Approaching Scientific Realism
. A Statement of Scientific Realism
. Challenges from Traditional Empiricism
. Metaphysical Constructivism
. Van Fraassen's View
. Representation, Models, and Truth (Optional Section)
Further Reading
. Explanation
. Knowing Why
. The Rise and Fall of the Covering Law Theory of Explanation
. Causation, Unification, and More
. Laws and Causes (Optional Section)
Further Reading
. Bayesianism and Modern Theories of Evidence
. New Hope
. Understanding Evidence with Probability
. The Subjectivist Interpretation of Probability
. Assessing Bayesianism
. Scientific Realism and Theories of Evidence
. Procedural Naturalism (Optional Section)
Further Reading
. Empiricism, Naturalism, and Scientific Realism?
. A Muddy Paste?
. The Apparent Tensions
. Empiricism Reformed
. A Last Challenge
. The Future
Peter Godfrey-Smith is associate professor of philosophy and of history and philosophy of science at Stanford University.