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Theory and Reality

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, Second Edition

Second Edition

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 more than a hundred years of debate about science. The result is a completely accessible introduction to the main themes of the philosophy of science. 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 that any beginning scholar or critical reader can follow. The second edition is thoroughly updated and expanded by the author with a new chapter on truth, simplicity, and models in science.

An audiobook version is available.

368 pages | 7 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2021

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Philosophy of Science


"An excellent overview of the philosophy of science from the early 20th century onward. . . . Recommended."


"Godfrey-Smith displays consistent clarity. It is truly refreshing to read a text that is thorough, clear, and penetrating. Students with little or no background in philosophy or philosophy of science will find this book to be extremely worthwhile. Professionals in other fields and other disciplines will appreciate the breadth and depth. . . . Whether you teach philosophy of science, or whether you are simple interested in issues relating science, philosophy, history, and other fields, I am confident that you’ll find Theory and Reality an accessible and rewarding read."

James Sage | Metapsychology

"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."

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 philosophy 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."

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Empiricism
Chapter 3 Evidence and Induction
Chapter 4 Popper: Conjecture and Refutation
Chapter 5 Kuhn’s Revolution
Chapter 6 Theories and Frameworks
Chapter 7 The Challenge from Sociology of Science
Chapter 8 Science Is Political
Chapter 9 Naturalistic Philosophy
Chapter 10 Scientific Realism
Chapter 11 Explanation, Laws, and Causes
Chapter 12 Bayesianism and New Views of Evidence
Chapter 13 Truth, Simplicity, and Other Problems
Chapter 14 The Future

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