The Philosophy of Science

A Very Short Introduction
Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 5 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (162 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2002 Oxford University Press (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent introduction


I found this to be a wonderfully cogent introduction to the philosophy of science and the major debates within it. It made no assumptions about the background that a listener would have, providing short explanations of major concepts without patronizing or pandering. The whole series is excellent, so I'm not surprised.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book unfortunately read by a robot

Excellent broad coverage. Hard to believe the reader is human. One must concentrate to imagine the book's text and read it in your head -- translating the monotone into something meaningful. If this is a test for a computer reader, it fails and amounts to deception.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book, boring narrator

I was rather excited when I found this book. Hello I had never heard of its author, it turned out to be written in a lucid style, comprehensive,
and well composed. , Then narrators voice is not boring, because he has the same tone and melody for each sentence.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent summar, well read

If you could sum up The Philosophy of Science in three words, what would they be?

Opened my eyes

What other book might you compare The Philosophy of Science to and why?

Philosophy of Science: Bolinda Beginner Guides

Which character – as performed by Peter Ganim – was your favorite?

Not applicable (this is non-fiction - no characters as such)

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The problem of induction seems insoluble (mainly because of Hume's argument and the Duhem-Quine problem), yet science is inconceivable without it (as is quotidien reasoning and acting).

Any additional comments?

Should be read by all thinking people - especially scientists, who are often allergic to philosophical analysis of what they do.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Useful ideas, lifeless reading

This give a solid, if simple, introduction to this field of philosophy--a good preparation before listening to the Great Courses lectures on the topic.

I think the book is actually fairly well-written and often witty, but it comes across as a bit dull because of the reading. I often wonder whether or not this is actually read by computer software, in an experiment to test whether or not customers can tell the difference.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • K
  • 05-25-20

necrophiliac fetish about dead paradigm

so, there were decent parts, alright. when writing on this subject and not mentioning Popper's falsification, or Kuhn would be impossible or unfair. Scientism got mentioned that's good.
Now, to bad parts.
Author seems to have a kink or a fetish for Dawinism, and obviously has no knowledge of its criticisms. It is so bad that he seems to perceive it as some sort of divine gift to humanity of unquestionably pure and unadulterated truth.
ironically enough it is the very paradigm that is factually dead, without derailed mechanisms of how it supposedly works. most of darwinism rests on a similarity and comparisons. i.e. comparative anatomy, comparative genetics etc. he thinks having 98% of genetic code similar to a monkey is logically sufficient to establish common ancestry. however, obviouy simarity is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the theory. what is needed is the lacking mechanism to account for the alleged transition(s).
second, it never bothers darwinists to ignore obvious fatal fact that burried their myth. namely the very fact of a genetic code, which serves as an instruction. before dna it was sort of interesting theory. after dna it is not so much.
third, "it was advantageous" is a non explanation. at the very end of the book he mentions those stories which are fun to read. but, i can explain anything with "it helped to leave more offspring" mythology. it is ironic that the book starts with falsification, and ends up not seeing how he failed that utterly. because any story how a "gene" helps mouse run from cat was evolutionary advantageous, can be easily put on its head. perhaps a mice which so good at hiding that it never even seen a cat to have that gene would be better adapted to leave more offspring? you see, all the fancy inagibations of this type are complete junk. you can reverse any of their stories and arrive at the same conclusion. this tells me that this "explanatuon" is vacuous

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good information but not great narration

The introduction was easy to understand and follow. The author certainly is thorough in their addressing the questions of the philosophy of science but on some issues their bias is easily seen. I don't necessarily disagree with the author's biases but they can be deduced.

I enjoy the information but I found the narrator to sound unnatural and speak with way to much treble in his voice.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Strong bias, but shares good information

Although the author has a clear bias against religion and inaccurately represents the arguments and views of religious people (especially in the evolution debate) there is still good information in this book. It covers a lot of interesting territory about epistemology as it relates to science.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It is a short, somewhat superficial, introduction.

It delivers on its promise, though if you have a moderate familiarity with the topic already, then I suggest looking elsewhere. Performance is quite droll, but clearly spoken.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A very good very short introduction

This subject matter is my second favourite and this introduction to it is fantastic, I bought it expecting a review for myself, but I actually learned a lot of new information.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kjetil Grun
  • 10-02-09

A sleeper hit

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeremy
  • 11-10-11

Good book, some topics left out, slightly robotic

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!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marc
  • 03-25-11

Great and not too short

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.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Paula Wright
  • 11-13-16

good but needs updating

studies today show Darwinian scientists are highly liberal in a classical liberal not conservative sense