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Nature and Understanding: The Metaphysics and Methods of Science Hardcover – March 29, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0198250852 ISBN-10: 0198250851

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198250851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198250852
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,052,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This is a short book, but it goes very deep. The Heythrop Journal Nature and Understanding is a valuable book. The number and range of topics benefiting from Rescher's wisdom is enormous. The book is eminently readable (Rescher knows how to write a good sentence) ... I recommend this book without hesitation to anyone interested in philosophy of science, metaphysics, and epistemology MIND Rescher's latest offering is devoted to some of the most interesting and important issues in philosophy of science. MIND

About the Author

Nicholas Rescher is University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Author of more than eighty works ranging over many areas of philosophy, he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for Humanistic Scholarship in 1984.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The world is as it appears to be through our senses - Every event has an explanation - That explanation is intelligible - There are absolute realities and it is these that science "gets back of". These are some of the assumptions of science. The question of course is how many of them can really be answered apart from specuation.
Nicholas Rescher, in a clearly written, tersly laid out, and cogent book ventures into some of these questions and ventures answers grounded in Peircean (Popperian?) pragmatism. The reason we believe the above presumptions - and presumptions is what they are - is that they enable us to do science at all. Tautology, you say? How can Rescher claim that doing science is why we make these assumptions if these assumptions are (at least partially) necessary to do science? In the tradition of pragmatists Charles S. Peirce and John Dewey, we do science to gain increased control over our environment (even if that control is just more security of knowledge) and it is that end which causes us to make assumptions like these that help us in our pursuit.
Rescher demonstrates, as far as metaphysics will allow, that it is pretty well certain that some of the above assumptions are false. There's no reason, for instance, to suppose that ultimate truths exist; that is to say, that even though we can state facts and seemingly true theories about x, spaitally, x is likely able to divide into smaller units and they into smaller units ad infinitum. Thus, search for scientific knowledge must (will?) be a never ending one. Similarly, scientific realism which asserts that scientific theories describe things as they "really are" is questionable. Our view of the world changes with time; it always has.
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