What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science.
Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scientific explanation, revolutions in science, and theories such as realism and anti-realism.
He also looks at philosophical issues in particular sciences, including the problem of classification in biology, and the nature of space and time in physics. The final chapter touches on the conflicts between science and religion, and explores whether science is ultimately a good thing.
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©2002 Oxford University Press; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
I bought this book as a science pleb and expected it to broaden my horizon in the science field. The book only reminded me that I don't get philosophy.
While some scientific theories can sound far fetched, adding esoteric philosophic discussions to the stew doesn't really help.
That does not mean I did not enjoy the book. The book is short and to the point objectively pointing out the different sides to discussions in the scientificmilieu.
The reason I called the book a sleeper hit is that if you are troubled by insomnia this is the book for you. I have nights where I have had problems falling to sleep while listening to fictional books. Switching to this book set my brain in shutdown mode in under 5 minutes. The reason is partly that the narrator, Peter Ganim, seems a bit unfocused.
Having listened to (and read) many books on the issue, this one stands out by far as the best. The author takes care to give balanced views on the various thoughts and opinions, yet presents these in entertaining ways. Though limited in scope, the important proponents are presented and the crucial angles well explained.
The Philosophy of Science explains what science can aspire to, what it shouldn't try to be and why.
I found this a very good guide to many of the concepts and debates that underpin Science, as practiced today. Popper and demarcation of Science from Pseudoscience; Kuhn and the nature of paradigm shifts in science; Realism vs. Antirealism; Hempel and the covering law model of explanations, and Hume's problems of Induction and Causation are all covered, along with much else.
I would have like to have seen Baysianism covered in the chapter on probability, and Lakatos as a synthesis of the opposing theses of Kuhn and Popper, as well as Feyerabend on the "Scientific method" (or lack of it), but hey! It's supposed to be a very brief guide!
I also thought the chapter on Realism/Antirealism kind of slightly missed the point, which IMHO is more to do with Scientific Realism vs. Social Constructivism, and Relativism, (or as a compromise Hawking's "Theory Dependant Realism"), than the difference between observables/unobservables.
The readers voice is slightly lacking in inflection, almost mechanical at times, however, that suited the topic... But I can see why another review said it sent them to sleep!
Overall, really useful book, a "must read" if you are involved with Science, but some important concepts and people are left out. However, for £3.99 (which was the price when I got it), it's a very good bargain!
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