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Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) 3rd Edition

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415891776
ISBN-10: 0415891779
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  • Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Written with verve and panache, Alex Rosenberg's Third Edition is a great introduction to perennial questions in the philosophy of science. For students, Rosenberg's book will be an accessible and thought-provoking guide; for their teachers, it will be an indispensable resource." Marc Lange, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Alex Rosenberg's Third Edition has been completely reorganized and augmented with lots of fascinating new material emphasizing the connections between philosophy of science and the rest of philosophy.  Challenging and insightful, this is one of the best single-author texts in the field.  I'm sure it will be even more successful than its predecessor."Martin Curd, Purdue University

About the Author

Alex Rosenberg is R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 3 edition (July 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415891779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415891776
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I have just finished teaching an upper-division undergraduate course in the philosophy of science in which I chose this book to be the main text. I used to teach such a course often, but hadn't done so for a few years. The plan was to have the students (this is at a large public university) read about one chapter per week, starting at the beginning, and sometimes to read a more challenging primary source in addition. These are one or two reflections on how the text worked out.

The material in the first two chapters on the nature of philosophy and its relation to science was very interesting to me, but most of my students--who were taking only their second or third philosophy course--were left cold; perhaps they felt they knew too little about philosophy to be in a position to comment. All students struggled with the chapters on laws and explanation (Chs. 3-6): they had trouble understanding them, they couldn't see why the issues mattered, and in fact they almost cheered when I announced we were moving on to a new topic. Of course, the students didn't bring any prior views about laws and explanation to the class, and things picked up when we turned to the chapters on epistemology, in part precisely because these chapters challenged the simplistic views on scientific method that the students brought to the class--views endlessly repeated in the first chapters of their science textbooks from middle school onwards. But that was not the whole of it. The chapters on laws and explanation are not as crisp and refined as are those on epistemology; this was the material with which I myself was least familiar, and I felt at least some of my students' pain.
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Format: Paperback
One expects a philosophy textbook to begin with a definition. A "Philosophy of . . . " textbook would ordinarily begin with a definition of whatever fits in the ellipsis. We would expect a Philosophy of Science to begin with some definition of Science or at least with some discussion of the problems associated with defining Science.

Rosenberg substitutes a definition of Philosophy for a definition of Science. Apparently he assumes we already know what to include in the concept Science, even though he is well aware that Science has a "demarcation problem" affecting the choice of what to include in Science. A defintion of Science is not forthcoming in this textbook, except in the form of topics discussed during the course of the book.

In his definition of Philosophy, Rosenberg favors Science over Philosophy, saying that Philosophy is about whatever questions are left unanswered by Science. We still do not know what he consideres Science to be. A few hints are given on p. 35 when he lists what is involved with Science as a product or result and then lists considerations that appear to drive the discussions that scientists have. The tendentiousness is present in the entire volume. It affects, for example, his discussion of whether the methods of the Social Sciences should be different from from the methods of the Natural Sciences.

As Rosenberg goes through the topics he covers, he relies on the tradition of what topics (and problems associated with them) one usually finds in the literature about Philosophy of Science. This means covering foremostly logical empiricism, its demise, and the reactions to it. He does this topically, not historically. It is a relatively conservative approach.
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This, along with Smith's Theory and Reality, is the best introduction to the philosophy of science. Unlike Smith (his book is arranged by history), Rosenberg arranges the book by topics. This addition is particularly helpful because it contains more information about Newtonian physics and how it shaped science and philosophy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a fair evaluation of all of the big ideas in the philosophy of science.
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We used this book in a graduate course about research paradigms. However, it is very confusing especially if you don't have a background in philosophy. Some examples are difficult to follow/understand. But, again, I did not major in philosophy, so the problem some fellows and I encountered was that we were not familiar with terms/ideas. Probably good for people with some knowledge in the field.
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