What makes science science? Why is science so successful? How do we distinguish science from pseudoscience? This exciting inquiry into the vigorous debate over the nature of science covers important philosophers such as Karl Popper, W. V. Quine, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos, Carl Hempel, Nelson Goodman, and Bas van Fraassen.
These thinkers responded in one way or another to logical positivism, the dominant movement influencing the philosophy of science during the first half of the 20th century - a movement whose eventual demise is an object lesson in how truly difficult it is to secure the logical foundations of a subject that seems so unassailably logical: science.
The philosophy of science can be abstract and theoretical, but it is also surprisingly practical. Science plays a pivotal role in our society, and a rigorous study of its philosophical foundations sheds light on the ideas, methods, institutions, and habits of mind that have so astonishingly and successfully transformed our world.
In the course of these 36 stimulating lectures, you will investigate a wide range of philosophical approaches to science, including empiricism, constructivism, scientific realism, and Bayesianism. You'll also examine such concepts as natural kinds, bridge laws, Hume's fork, the covering-law model, the hypothetico-deductive model, and inference to the best explanation (mistakenly called "deduction" in the Sherlock Holmes stories).
Professor Kasser shows how these and other tools allow us to take apart scientific arguments and examine their inner workings - all the while remaining an impartial guide as you navigate the arguments among different philosophers during the past 100 years.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses
This was the most difficult Great Courses lecture series I've encountered yet. I gave the entire course a second listen and listened for a third or fourth time to several of the later lectures. After all that, I'd at best get a C if I had to take a test.
This is not to say that Professor Kasser does a poor job. He actually does a pretty stunning job of shining a light for the uninitiated on a very deep and fascinating subject. Seriously, it's quite an undertaking. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was surprised and entertained by the breadth of scope.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
This is a tough audio book to adequately summarize. Dr. Jeffrey Kasser offers evidence for the value and advance of human knowledge through philosophy and science. Kasser explains that philosophy is the beginning of what becomes a scientific world view. Kasser attempts to drag skeptics out of Socrates’ cave with a “36 lecture” series titled “Philosophy of Science”.
Newton’s laws work in the macro world. We no longer believe rocks fall to the ground because they live there. Newton’s laws of motion suggest that a bowling ball and a basketball will fall at the same rate of speed, even though their mass is different. This is experimentally and logically provable. Kasser notes that Newton’s laws infer a cause-and-effect world. If a rock, bowling ball, or basketball are picked up and dropped, they will fall to the ground. If they are in a vacuum, they will fall to the ground at the same rate of speed.
In the micro world, components of atoms that combine to form what we see as bowling balls and basketballs cohere to each other in a way that does not conform to Newton’s laws. The components of atoms operate in accordance with quantum mechanics which shows that elements of atoms in bowling balls and basketballs do not follow Newton’s laws of motion. The orbital planes of atomic elements like quarks and leptons appear and disappear; i.e. they do not follow a predictable pattern of action. Cause and effect in the macro world is replaced by probability in the micro world.
None of this is to suggest that Newton’s laws are false or that quantum mechanics are anything more than an expansion of Newton’s laws. However, at this stage of scientific discovery, the two laws are not presently compatible, even though both laws are experimentally confirmable. Attempts have been made to unify these laws. String theory is the present day most studied hypothesis but it fails the criteria of null hypothesis because of today’s instrumental and cognitive limitations.
Philosophy and science are integral to the advance of human civilization. We are still looking at shadows of reality but Kasser infers philosophy and science are the best hope for Socrates’ spelunkers.
Conversational Intellectual Tour-de-force.
Certainly, the most memorable moment was that when I realized that I would have to listen to the entire set of lectures again - enthusiastically - in passionate hope that I could glimpse a deeper understanding of this work. It was somewhere during the description of the scientific realists, where I came to realize that my pedestrian understanding of science and scientific explaination was simply inadequate and required a major overhaul. It broadened my intellectual horizons in ways difficult to describe after a first run through the material.
This is my first lecture by Prof. Kasser. However, I would certainly revel in the opportunity to listen to another. However, as I listen to these lectures (and others) during my 1.5 hr commute, I would be armed with foreknowledge that I should have that extra cup of coffee - or two - to spin up my brain function to the appropriate level.
Everything about science you'd never think you'd ever think about.
If your brain was left unfulfilled and wanting by that quantum physics book you just listened to, then this is the book for you. It was an 18+ hour tour-de-force of cerebral and intellectual calisthenics delivered at a rate that could easily overflow the comprehension rate of the "sharpest tool in the shed." However, it's information density was made enjoyably consumable by the expert elocution of Prof. Kasser. A lesser teacher would assuredly have failed miserably where Prof. Kasser triumphs.
Retired professor of theoretical mechanics and fluid dynamics.
A expositor who truly understood the subject and that was able to provide information that one could reasonable trust.
No. The fact that this individual demonstrated ignorance of the theory of special relativity does not obviate the fact that many philosophers of science have professional level competence in both science and philosophy.
The presenter in this case is also the author. As a presenter he was quite adequate, the problem being with the material itself.
In many ways the philosophical reasoning was both interesting and informative. The problem was that the author made completely erronious statements about the theory of special relativity. Thus he stated that the theory only deals with constant velocity motion. In fact the difference between special and general relativity is that the general theory includes gravity. As a look into any basic physics text that discusses the special theory shows the special theory deals quite well with accelerated motion. For example the description of the famous twin paradox involves the traveling twin to turn around and return to the location of the stay at home twin. Since this certainly involves acceleration the explanation using special relativity is certainly dealing with accelerated motion. The author's unequivocal incorrect statements about this indicated to me that I could not trust his statements about subjects of which I'm ignorant and pretty much ruined the presentation for me. A philosopher of science should at least have someone knowledgable in any field he discusses look over his work.
The teaching company in claiming to choose presenters with academic excellence should certainly have their courses reviewed by knowledgable individuals. In this case they failed!
The Professor knows his subject, at least the areas he touches upon.
The major shortcoming, I think, is missing the Curie Principals, the Noether Theorems, and such other aspects on "Role of Symmetry in Physics". These concepts are relatively unknown, and hence should have been covered more prominently, given what they mean for existence or otherwise of "Laws of Nature"
I think it is a fine performance, except for the above comment on symmetry.
No way. It took a well over a month - a well spent month, and I will have to replay it, to better grasp some concepts, which I thought were within my reach when I first heard them from Professor, but now cannot exactly put a finger on them.
Does the professor think that symmetry is a topic for another course by itself? That is why he glossed over it in this course? I would like to hear from him.
The book isn't really what I was expecting. It started out well, but then went too deep into philosophy and too light on science. I was hoping it would deal with ethics in science, the scientific method in detail, etc ... Sorry, I realize a lot of work has gone into this one, but I just really couldn't get into it.
One of the big (and absolutely silly, I acknowledge!) problem was that at times the voice of the narrator reminded me of the hillbilly character on the Simpsons, which obviously does not at all fit with the topic of the audiobook!!!! ;)
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