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  What is This Thing Called Science? (Alan Chalmers)

What is This Thing Called Science? (Alan Chalmers)

This book is commonly used a text for introductory courses in the philosophy of science. For people who are interested in the the history of debates within the philosophy of science -- not necessarily the history of science, or detailed treatments of scientific methodology -- this is a great introduction.

Philosophy of science deals with fundamental questions about the nature of scientific knowledge, scientific theories, and scientific reasoning. What is the ground of scientific knowledge? What counts as a scientific explanation? Is there such a thing as the "scientific method"? What is a scientific theory? How and why do scientific theories change over time? Does science ever give us the truth? What role to values play in science? And so on.

Here are the chapter titles:

  1. Science as knowledge derived from the facts of experience
  2. Observation as practical intervention
  3. Experiment
  4. Deriving theories from the facts: induction
  5. Introducing falsificationism
  6. Sophisticated falsificationism, novel predictions and the growth of science
  7. The limitations of falsificationism
  8. Theories as structures I: Kuhn's paradigms
  9. Theories as structures II: research programs
  10. Feyerabend's anarchistic theory of science
  11. Methodical changes in method
  12. The Bayesian approach
  13. The new experimentalism
  14. Why should the world obey laws?
  15. Realism and anti-realism
  16. Epilogue to the third edition
  17. Postscript

There are many good introductory books on the philosophy of science, and this is one of them.