Few can imagine a world without telephones or televisions; many depend on computers and the Internet as part of daily life. Without scientific theory, these developments would not have been possible.
In this exceptionally clear and engaging introduction to philosophy of science, James Ladyman explores the philosophical questions that arise when we reflect on the nature of the scientific method and the knowledge it produces. He discusses whether fundamental philosophical questions about knowledge and reality might be answered by science, and considers in detail the debate between realists and antirealists about the extent of scientific knowledge. Along the way, central topics in philosophy of science, such as the demarcation of science from non-science, induction, confirmation and falsification, the relationship between theory and observation and relativism are all addressed. Important and complex current debates over underdetermination, inference to the best explaination and the implications of radical theory change are clarified and clearly explained for those new to the subject.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
James Ladyman's book is an excellent introduction to philosophy of science, though at times (especially in the latter part of the book) it becomes too sophisticated for a lower division course. Still, Ladyman covers the basics and then some using a clear style that engages the reader, bringing her gradually closer to some deep questions about the nature of science. The book starts with the standard topics of induction (and the corresponding problem pointed out by David Hume), moving to Popper's falsificationism, originally proposed as a solution to the problem of justification of inductive inference. After having explained why falsificationism in turn didn't work very well, Ladyman proceeds to Kuhn and the idea of paradigm shifts in the history of science. The difficult part comes in the second section, which is entirely devoted to the still ongoing debate between realists and antirealists in science. The reader is slowly but surely walked through increasingly complex rebuttals and...
This is an introductory book, and as to be evaluated as such. Thus it is nonsense to say "Don't read this; read Popper, Duhem, etc. instead". And as an introduction to the philosophy of science this book is great, because it does what it is supposed to do: it covers most of the main issues, and it discusses the main theories in a very clear and structured way.
This is a more than adequate introduction to the subject, clearly written, sensibly structured and highly enjoyable. Philosophers frequently underestimate the degree to which the subject can be daunting even to the bright and enthusiastic beginner, and any introductory text must find a balance between thoroughness and accessibility. Ladyman's book does just that.
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