Science Rules

Science Rules : A Historical Introduction to Scientific Methods

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Is there a universal set of rules for discovering and testing scientific hypotheses? Since the birth of modern science, philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers have wrestled with this fundamental question of scientific practice. Efforts to devise rigorous methods for obtaining scientific knowledge include the twenty-one rules Descartes proposed in his Rules for the Direction of the Mind and the four rules of reasoning that begin the third book of Newton's Principia, and continue today in debates over the very possibility of such rules. Bringing together key primary sources spanning almost four centuries, Science Rules introduces readers to scientific methods that have played a prominent role in the history of scientific practice.

Editor Peter Achinstein includes works by scientists and philosophers of science to offer a new perspective on the nature of scientific reasoning. For each of the methods discussed, he presents the original formulation of the method; selections written by a proponent of the method together with an application to a particular scientific example; and a critical analysis of the method that draws on historical and contemporary sources.

The methods included in this volume are Cartesian rationalism with an application to Descartes' laws of motion; Newton's inductivism and the law of gravity; two versions of hypothetico-deductivism-those of William Whewell and Karl Popper-and the nineteenth-century wave theory of light; Paul Feyerabend's principle of proliferation and Thomas Kuhn's views on scientific values, both of which deny that there are universal rules of method, with an application to Galileo's tower argument. Included also is a famous nineteenth-century debate about scientific reasoning between the hypothetico-deductivist William Whewell and the inductivist John Stuart Mill; and an account of the realism-antirealism dispute about unobservables in science, with a consideration of Perrin's argument for the existence of molecules in the early twentieth century.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 440 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 29mm | 635g
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • 4 Line drawings, black and white
  • 0801879442
  • 9780801879449
  • 1,060,319

Table of contents

Part I: Descaries' Rationalism and Laws of Motion; 1. Descartes' Methodological Rules; 2. Descartes' Ontological Proof of God; 3. Descartes' Laws of Motion; 4. A Discussion of Descartes' Methodology; Part II: Newton's Inductivism and the Law of Gravity; 5. Newton's Methodological Rules; 6. Newton's "Phenomena" and Derivation of the Law of Gravity; 7. Newton on "Hypotheses," God, and Gravity; 8. Cohen's Discussion of Newton's Methodology; 9. Whewell's Critique of Newton's Methodology; Part III: Hypothetico-Deductivism, the Mill-Whewell Debate, and the Wave Theory of Light; 10. Young's Wave Theory of Light; 11. Whewell's Hypothetico-Deductivism; 12. Popper's Falsificationism; 13. Mill's Inductivism and Debate with Whewell; 14. The Mill-Whewell Debate; Part IV: Realism vs. Antirealism and Molecular Reality; 15. Duhem's Antirealism; 16. Van Fraassen's Antirealism; 17. Perrin's Realism and Argument for Molecules; 18. Salmon's Empirical Defense of Realism; 19. Realism and Perrin's Argument for Molecules; Part V: Galileo's Tower Argument and Rejections of Universal Rules of Method; 20. Galileo's Refutation of the Tower Argument; 21. Feyerabend's Rejection of Universal Rules; 22. A Critique of Feyerabend's Anarchism; 23. Kuhn's Rejection of Universal Rules; 24. A Discussion of Kuhn's "Values"
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About Peter Achinstein

Peter Achinstein is a professor of philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University. His previous books include Concepts of Science, Law and Explanation, The Nature of Explanation, Particles and Waves, and The Book of Evidence.
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