Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science

Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science

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"Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science" contains sixteen original essays by leading authors in the philosophy of science, each one defending the affirmative or negative answer to one of eight specific questions, including: Are there laws of social science? Are causes physically connected to their effects? And, is the mind a system of modules shaped by natural selection? This book brings together fresh debates on eight of the most controversial issues in the philosophy of science. Each question is treated by a pair of opposing essays written by eminent scholars, and especially commissioned for the volume. A lively debate format sharply defines the issues, and paves the way for further discussion. It will serve as an accessible introduction to the major topics in contemporary philosophy of science, whilst also capturing the imagination of professional philosophers.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 172 x 245 x 19mm | 610g
  • Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Chicester, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1405101520
  • 9781405101523
  • 1,491,865

Back cover copy

Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science features original essays on some of the most hotly debated issues in the field. Are there laws of social science? Are causes physically connected to their effects? Is the mind a system of modules shaped by natural selection?


Eight central questions shape the volume, with each question treated by a pair of opposing essays. This distinctive format offers readers a unique opportunity to observe philosophers engaging in head-to-head debate. Together, the essays provide an accessible introduction to the major topics in contemporary philosophy of science, including empiricism, confirmation, realism, laws, causation, and explanation. Showcasing original arguments for well-defined positions, as well as clear and concise statements of sophisticated philosophical views, this volume is an excellent resource for professional philosophers and students alike.
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Table of contents

Notes on Contributors.Preface.Introduction: What is the Philosophy of Science?.Part I: Do Thought Experiments Transcend Empiricism?.1. Why Thought Experiments Transcend Empiricism: James Robert Brown (University of Toronto).2. Why Thought Experiments do not Transcend Empiricism: John Norton (University of Pittsburgh).Part II: Does Probability Capture the Logic of Scientific Confirmation or Justification?.3. Probability Captures the Logic of Scientific Confirmation: Patrick Maher (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).4. Why Probability Does not Capture the Logic of Scientific Justification: Kevin Kelly (Carnegie Mellon University) and Clark Glymour (Carnegie Mellon University).Part III: Can a Theory's Predictive Success Warrant Belief in the Unobservable Entities it Postulates?.5. A Theory's Predictive Success Can Warrant Belief in the Unobservable Entities it Postulates: Jarrett Leplin (University of North Carolina, Greensboro).6. A Theory's Predictive Success Does not Warrant Belief in the Unobservable Entities it Postulates: Andre Kukla (University of Toronto) and Joel Walmsley (University of Toronto).Part IV: Are There Laws in the Social Sciences?.7. There are no Laws in the Social Sciences: John Roberts (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).8. There are Laws in the Social Sciences: Harold Kincaid (University of Alabama at Birmingham).Part V: Are Causes Physically Connected to their Effects?.9. Causes are Physically Connected to Their Effects: Why Preventers and Omissions are not Causes: Phil Dowe (University of Queensland, Australia).10. Causes Need Not be Physically Connected to their Effects: The Case for Negative Causation: Jonathan Schaffer (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).Part VI: Is There a Puzzle about the Low Entropy Past?.11. On the Origins of the Arrow of Time: Why There is Still a Puzzle About the Low Entropy Past: Huw Price (University of Edinburgh).12. There is No Puzzle About the Low Entropy Past: Craig Callender.Part VII: Do Genes Encode Information About Phenotypic Traits:.13. Genes Encode Information for Phenotypic Traits: Sahotra Sarkar (University of Texas at Austin).14. Genes Do not Encode Information for Phenotypic Traits: Peter Godfrey-Smith (Stanford University).Part VIII: Is the Mind a System of Modules Shaped by Natural Selection?.15. The Mind is a System of Modules Shaped by Natural Selection: Peter Carruthers (University of Maryland).16. The Mind is Not (Just) a System of Modules Shaped (Just) by Natural Selection: Fiona Cowie (California Institute of Technology) and James Woodward (California Institute of Technology).Index
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Review quote

"This book offers an excellent way into both general philosophy of science and the important foundational issues that are generated by particular special sciences. The contributions are of the highest quality, and range from the epistemology of thought-experiments to the relationship between genes and whole organisms. The pairing of essays defending opposing points of view shows readers that philosophy of science is full of live issues that demand scientifically well-informed and philosophically sophisticated debate." James Ladyman, University of Bristol "The essays in this invaluable collection are splendid and spirited, and they manage to encompass a broad range of the most exciting debates in philosophy of science today. By juxtaposing rival viewpoints on the same questions, this collection is sure to provoke vigorous responses from students and their teachers alike." Marc Lange, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill "The volume gives a real taste of current philosophical debate. The debated issues are real and well-defined, and not obscure conflicts of various -isms whose philosophical relevance is only understood by the participants." Petri Ylikoski, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
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About Christopher Hitchcock

Christopher Hitchcock is Professor of Philosophy at the California Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared in journals such as The Philosophical Review, The Journal of Philosophy, Nous, Philosophy of Science, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and Synthese.
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