What Is This Thing Called Science? (Fourth Edition)

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Hackett Publishing, Sep 15, 2013 - Science - 304 pages
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Co-published with the University of Queensland Press. HPC holds rights in North America and U. S. Dependencies.

Since its first publication in 1976, Alan Chalmers's highly regarded and widely read work--translated into eighteen languages--has become a classic introduction to the scientific method, known for its accessibility to beginners and its value as a resource for advanced students and scholars.

In addition to overall improvements and updates inspired by Chalmers's experience as a teacher, comments from his readers, and recent developments in the field, this fourth edition features an extensive chapter-long postscript that draws on his research into the history of atomism to illustrate important themes in the philosophy of science. Identifying the qualitative difference between knowledge of atoms as it figures in contemporary science and metaphysical speculations about atoms common in philosophy since the time of Democritus offers a revealing and instructive way to address the question at the heart of this groundbreaking work: What is this thing called science?

 

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Contents

Testing the methodology against history
131
Problems with Lakatoss methodology
134
Further reading
137
Feyerabends anarchistic theoryof science
138
Feyerabends case against method
139
Feyerabends advocacy of freedom
144
Critique of Feyerabends individualism
145
Further reading
147

Galileo and the moons of Jupiter
20
Observable facts objective but fallible
23
Further reading
24
3 Experiment
25
The production and updating of experimental results
26
historical examples
29
Experiment as an adequate basis for science
34
Further reading
37
Deriving theories from the facts induction
38
Baby logic
39
Can scientific laws be derived from the facts?
40
What constitutes a good inductive argument?
42
Further problems with inductivism
45
The appeal of inductivism
49
Further reading
54
Introducing falsificationism
55
A logical point in favour of falsificationism
56
Falsifiability as a criterion for theories
57
Degree of falsifiability clarity and precision
60
Falsificationism and progress
64
Further reading
68
Sophisticated falsificationism novel predictions and the growth of science
69
Increasing falsifiability and ad hoc modifications
70
Confirmation in the falsificationist account of science
73
Boldness novelty and background knowledge
75
Comparison of the inductivist and falsificationist view of confirmation
77
Advantages of falsificationism over inductivism
78
Further reading
80
The limitations of falsificationism
81
Falsificationism inadequate on historical grounds
84
The Copernican Revolution
86
Inadequacies of the falsificationist demarcation criterion and Poppers response
94
Further reading
96
Theories as structures I Kuhns paradigms
97
Introducing Thomas Kuhn
100
Paradigms and normal science
101
Crisis and revolution
104
The function of normal science and revolutions
109
The merits of Kuhns account of science
111
Kuhns ambivalence on progress through revolutions
113
Objective knowledge
115
Further reading
119
Theories as structures IIresearch programs
121
Lakatoss research programs
122
Methodology within a program and the comparisonof programs
126
Novel predictions
128
Methodical changes in method
149
a change in standards
151
Piecemeal change of theory method and standards
155
A lighthearted interlude
158
Further reading
160
The Bayesian approach
161
Bayes theorem
162
Subjective Bayesianism
164
Applications of the Bayesian formula
167
Critique of subjective Bayesianism
173
Further reading
177
The new experimentalism
179
Experiment with life of its own
180
Deborah Mayo on severe experimental testing
184
Learning from error and triggering revolutions
187
The new experimentalism in perspective
190
happy meetings of theory and experiment
194
Further reading
196
Why should the world obey laws?
197
Laws as regularities
198
Laws as characterisations of powers or dispositions
201
Thermodynamic and conservation laws
204
Further reading
208
Realism and antirealism
209
language truth and reality
210
Antirealism
214
Some standard objections and the antirealist response
216
Scientific realism and conjectural realism
219
Idealisation
222
Unrepresentative realism or structural realism
224
Further reading
226
Epilogue to the third edition
227
Further reading
232
Postscript
233
Confirmation by arguments from coincidence
235
Philosophical versus scientific knowledge of atoms
239
Perrins experiments on Brownian motion
244
atomism in nineteenthcenturychemistry
251
Realism versus antirealism again
257
Further reading
266
Notes
267
Bibliography
269
Index of names
278
Back Cover
283
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Alan Chalmers is Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, where he has taught since 1971.

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