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Theory and Reality

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

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.

288 pages | 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2003

Science and Its Conceptual Foundations series

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Philosophy of Science


"Godfrey-Smith presents a clear, comprehensive, and accessible introductory survey of the major problems and movements in the philosophy of science. It is an excellent book to use on its own in a lower-level philosophy of science course or as a supplement to some anthology of primary texts in a more sophisticated upper-level course. It would also suit anyone who has interest in the subject but little patience for jargon-heavy professional philosophy. . . . His exposition is accented by insightful commentary and criticism, and by examples from the history of science all with a keen sense of humor."

Michael Veber | Science Education

"A stimulating introduction to nearly every department of general philosophy of science. . . . Godfrey-Smith's attempt to inject new vigor and liveliness into philospohy of science is quite successful, as evidenced by the charmingly opinionated style of presentation and the ease with which he ties latter-day perspectives on science back to the classic positivist tradition and the history of science. . . . A very fresh and well-conceived book."

Matthew D. Lund | Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

Table of Contents

A Note for Those Teaching with the Book
1. Introduction
1.1 Setting Out
1.2 The Scope of the Theory
1.3 What Kind of Theory?
1.4 Three Answers, or Pieces of an Answer
1.5 Historical Interlude: A Sketch of the Scientific Revolution
Further Reading

2. Logic Plus Empiricism
2.1 The Empiricist Tradition
2.2 The Vienna Circle
2.3 Central Ideas of Logical Positivism
2.4 Problems and Changes
2.5 Logical Empiricism
2.6 On the Fall of Logical Empiricism
Further Reading

3. Induction and Confirmation
3.1 The Mother of All Problems
3.2 Induction, Deduction, Confirmation, and Explanatory Inference
3.3 The Ravens Problem
3.4 Goodman’s "New Riddle of Induction"
Further Reading

4. Popper: Conjecture and Refutation
4.1 Popper’s Unique Place in the Philosophy of Science
4.2 Popper’s Theory of Science
4.3 Popper on Scientific Change
4.4 Objections to Popper on Falsification
4.5 Objections to Popper on Confirmation
4.6 Further Comments on the Demarcation Problem
Further Reading

5. Kuhn and Normal Science
5.1 "The Paradigm Has Shifted"
5.2 Paradigms: A Closer Look
5.3 Normal Science
5.4 Anomaly and Crisis
5.5 Wrap-up of Normal Science
Further Reading

6. Kuhn and Revolutions
6.1 Considerable Upset
6.2 Revolutions and Their Aftermath
6.3 Incommensurability, Relativism, and Progress
6.4 The X-Rated "Chapter X"
6.5 Final Thoughts on Kuhn
Further Reading

7. Lakatos, Laudan, Feyerabend, and Frameworks
7.1 After Structure
7.2 Lakatos and Research Programs
7.3 Laudan and Research Traditions
7.4 Anything Goes
7.5 An Argument from History That Haunts Philosophy
7.6 Pluralism and the Ramblings of Madmen
7.7 Taking Stock: Frameworks and Two-Process Theories of Science
Further Reading

8. The Challenge from Sociology of Science
8.1 Beyond Philosophy?
8.2 Robert Merton and the "Old" Sociology of Science
8.3 The Rise of the Strong Program
8.4 Leviathan and Latour
Further Reading

9. Feminism and Science Studies
9.1 "Science Is Political"
9.2 The Man of Reason
9.3 The Case of Primatology
9.4 Feminist Epistemology
9.5 Science Studies, the Science Wars, and the Sokal Hoax
Further Reading

10. Naturalistic Philosophy in Theory and Practice
10.1 What Is Naturalism?
10.2 Quine, Dewey, and Others
10.3 The Theory-Ladenness of Observation
Further Reading

11. Naturalism and the Social Structure of Science
11.1 Science as a Process
11.2 Kitcher and the Division of Scientific Labor
11.3 Social Structure and Empiricism
Further Reading

12. Scientific Realism
12.1 Strange Debates
12.2 Approaching Scientific Realism
12.3 A Statement of Scientific Realism
12.4 Challenges from Traditional Empiricism
12.5 Metaphysical Constructivism
12.6 Van Fraassen’s View
12.7 Representation, Models, and Truth (Optional Section)
Further Reading

13. Explanation
13.1 Knowing Why
13.2 The Rise and Fall of the Covering Law Theory of Explanation
13.3 Causation, Unification, and More
13.4 Laws and Causes (Optional Section)
Further Reading

14. Bayesianism and Modern Theories of Evidence
14.1 New Hope
14.2 Understanding Evidence with Probability
14.3 The Subjectivist Interpretation of Probability
14.4 Assessing Bayesianism
14.5 Scientific Realism and Theories of Evidence
14.6 Procedural Naturalism (Optional Section)
Further Reading

15. Empiricism, Naturalism, and Scientific Realism?
15.1 A Muddy Paste?
15.2 The Apparent Tensions
15.3 Empiricism Reformed
15.4 A Last Challenge
15.5 The Future


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