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Publisher's Summary

How does science work? Does it tell us what the world is "really" like? What makes it different from other ways of understanding the universe? In Theory and Reality, Peter Godfrey-Smith addresses these questions by taking the listener on a grand tour of 100 years of debate about science. The result is a completely accessible introduction to the main themes of the philosophy of science.

Intended for undergraduates and general audiences with no prior background in philosophy, Theory and Reality covers logical positivism; the problems of induction and confirmation; Karl Popper's theory of science; Thomas Kuhn and "scientific revolutions"; the views of Imre Lakatos, Larry Laudan, and Paul Feyerabend; and challenges to the field from sociology of science, feminism, and science studies. The book then looks in more detail at some specific problems and theories, including scientific realism, the theory-ladeness of observation, scientific explanation, and Bayesianism.

Finally, Godfrey-Smith defends a form of philosophical naturalism as the best way to solve the main problems in the field.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2003 The University of Chicago (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Godfrey-Smith presents a clear, comprehensive, and accessible introductory survey of the major problems and movements in the philosophy of science. It is an excellent book to use on its own in a lower-level philosophy of science course or as a supplement to some anthology of primary texts in a more sophisticated upper-level course. It would also suit anyone who has interest in the subject but little patience for jargon-heavy professional philosophy…. His exposition is accented by insightful commentary and criticism, and by examples from the history of science all with a keen sense of humor." (Michael Veber, Science Education)

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Great to follow with

Great way to get through a textbook. Concepts are easy to follow along with in the book while listening and gaining a better grasp of philosophy of science.

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Perfect Introduction

Highly recommended for anyone interested in both the philosophy of science and scientific thought. Great work all around.

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Great conceptual stew

...But could've done with more examples. There's fascinating discussion of how different scientific fields have different ideas about what an "explanation" is, yet we don't get to see what individual fields look like. Kuhn's concept of "paradigm shift" is discussed without any evocative cases being given. When examples do occur, they're the standard philosophical examples (ravens, emeralds) which the author admits are bad examples.