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Philosophy of Science | [The Great Courses]

Philosophy of Science

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  •  
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-28-14
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-28-14 Member Since 2007

    Chet Yarbrough, an audio book addict, exercises two cocker spaniels twice a day with an Ipod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears. Hope these few reviews seduce the public into a similar obsession but walk safely and be aware of the unaware.

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    "PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Lesser Stockholm, Sweden 12-04-13
    Martin Lesser Stockholm, Sweden 12-04-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Relativistic Ignorance"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A expositor who truly understood the subject and that was able to provide information that one could reasonable trust.


    Has Philosophy of Science turned you off from other books in this genre?

    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.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The presenter in this case is also the author. As a presenter he was quite adequate, the problem being with the material itself.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederic Leusch Brisbane, Qld, Australia 03-13-14
    Frederic Leusch Brisbane, Qld, Australia 03-13-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Didn't enjoy it, sorry"
    What disappointed you about Philosophy of Science?

    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.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    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!!!! ;)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Shaliest India 02-23-14
    Shaliest India 02-23-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Incomplete"
    Where does Philosophy of Science rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The Professor knows his subject, at least the areas he touches upon.


    What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    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"


    What about Professor Jeffrey L. Kasser’s performance did you like?

    I think it is a fine performance, except for the above comment on symmetry.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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