Theory and Reality

Theory and Reality : An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

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What makes science different from other ways of investigating the world? In "Theory and Reality" Peter Godfrey-Smith uses debates - such as the problem of confirmation, the new riddle of induction, and the problem of scientific realism - as a way to introduce, in a completely accessible way, the main themes in the philosophy of science. Intended for undergraduates and general readers with no prior background in philosophy, "Theory and Reality" starts by surveying the last hundred years of work in the field. It covers logical positivism; induction and confirmation; Karl Popper's theory of science; Thomas Kuhn and "scientific revolutions"; the radical 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 detail at some of the broader philosophical issues at stake, such as philosophical naturalism, scientific realism, theories of explanation in science, Bayesianism, and other modern theories of explanation in science.
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. 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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 155 x 228 x 19mm | 390g
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 6 line drawings
  • 0226300633
  • 9780226300634
  • 87,837

Flap copy

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.
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About Peter Godfrey-Smith

Peter Godfrey-Smith is an associate professor of philosophy and of history and philosophy of science at Stanford University. He is the author of Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature.
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Rating details

678 ratings
3.89 out of 5 stars
5 26% (177)
4 43% (293)
3 25% (172)
2 5% (31)
1 1% (5)
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