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Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science 2nd Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1405195638
ISBN-10: 1405195630
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book has great merits and is very readable, and beginners in history of science and philosophy of science will appreciate the wealth of information that it offers." (Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science, 2011)

"Written in clear and comprehensible prose and supplemented by effective diagrams and examples, Worldviews is an ideal text for anyone new to the history and philosophy of science. As the reader will come to find out, DeWitt is a gifted writer with the unique ability to break down complex and technical concepts into digestible parts, making Worldviews a welcoming and not overwhelming book for the introductory reader." (History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, vol. 28-2)

"The author is to be commended for the rare clarity of his writing, and for the truly impressive, most useful diagrams exemplifying many abstruse concepts and theses of quantum and relativistic theories. Unlike many other introductions to philosophy of science, DeWitt's book is at once historically informative and philosophically thorough and rigorous. Chapter notes, suggested readings, and references enhance its value". (Choice)

"This is a brilliantly clear introduction (and indeed reframing) of the history and philosophy of science in terms of world-views and thier elements.... In addition, the book is incredibly well-informed from both a scientific and philosophical angle. Highly recommended." (Scientific and Medical Network)

Review

"Quite simply, this is one of the most accessible – and teachable – introductions to the history and philosophy of science I've seen in over two decades of teaching. DeWitt's exposition and discussion – manifestly honed by extensive classroom teaching experience – are exceptionally clear, and helpfully complimented by some of the best diagrams I've seen. DeWitt thus makes complex ideas and developments cogent and straightforward, especially for undergraduates and those approaching the history and philosophy of science for the first time."
Charles Ess, Drury University

"Richard DeWitt's Worldviews is a splendid introductory text. It is organized around themes – traditions and their overthrow – geared to engage undergraduates. It is historically informed and philosophically sensible. Best of all, it abounds in examples skillfully drawn from the physical sciences and made accessible to the non-specialist. The philosophy of science students encounter through Worldviews will strike them as the philosophy of real science – the science of Newton, Einstein, Copernicus, and Aristotle – and not some denatured surrogate for science concocted by philosophers so that it might succumb to the tools of their trade."
Laura Ruetsche, University of Pittsburgh

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (October 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405195630
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405195638
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Long a fan of history, science, and philosophy, I often have my eye out for books on these topics, and especially their crossovers or intersections. This book certainly explains complex ideas in an easily accessable manner. It does, however, so much more. In addition to giving a deeper understanding of the philosphy of science, it gives a very nice history of the evolution of our modern scientific worldview. The book makes clear why Newton came up with his laws of motion. The world was primed for such an idea by the prior discoveries of Galileo and Kepler. The latters' discoveries placed the Aritotian worldview in crisis which Newton helped resolve. I highly recommend this book for advanced high schoolers on up, with an interest in philosophy, or science, or history, or especially their interactions.
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Format: Paperback
Didn't purchase DeWitt's book here on Amazon, but I wanted to review the product for potential buyers. I loved this book; it is a textbook that I struggled to put down (I didn't know such a thing existed). DeWitt does a fantastic job examining scientific thought over the course of history, but what I loved the most is that he removed the naivete of ancient thinkers. I know many people currently think people were deluded historically for believing things such as, the earth is the center of the universe. Ancient thinkers had very compelling reasons for believing the things they did. You will come to understand not only what people discovered or theorized, but why they believed it and how it fit into their larger system of belief.

In another review by Wade, he mentioned the redundancy of the book. I can attest to this, however, I believe it makes any section of the book readable independently. If there is a particular person or topic that interests you, from Aristotle, to Ptoelmy, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and many others, it is easy to pick up that section of the book and read it apart from any other chapter. It will lengthen the book if you read it cover to cover, but I certainly didn't mind refreshers on terminologies or concepts.

Five of five stars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author correctly argues that philosophy is not dead. The philosophy of science is still dealing with issues of what is truth, fact, and reality. There are still ongoing debates between realists, positivists, and historicists within the scientific community. This is truely an eye opening book on the philosophy of science.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great introduction to the philosophy of science. Basically aimed at the layman I would say, but it could also be used as a companion to a more in depth analysis book of the subject in the classroom. I loved the way it connects the evolution of science with world views a la Quine Kuhn and how it illustrates the conflict, and resolution, between those world views. The explanation of quantum physics is one of the best I've come across. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be enlightening. I now understand many concepts that before reading this book had been at best fuzzy to me. Although at first I was annoyed by the author’s habit of repeating the same idea several times using only slightly different words, as the book progressed I found the repetition to be useful and valuable.

I have given it four stars rather than five because of its shallow treatment of evolution, both in the factual presentation and the discussion of its philosophical implications.

For example, when discussing quantum theory the author carefully distinguishes between the empirical facts, the math that describes those facts, and the interpretation of those facts. He even states that the counterintuitive nature of many interpretations despite the many correct predictions that have been made based on the theory and its math have led many to take an instrumentalist attitude towards the theory (meaning that we have used the math to make many predictions which have been verified but refrain from drawing conclusions about reality) and that this is a respectable attitude (p. 247). Yet no such distinctions are discussed with respect to evolution. I understand that he does not discuss the math because as I understand it there is no math – all mathematical calculations about which I have read indicate that the Earth did not exist long enough to allow the present state of affairs to have developed by random mutation couple with natural selection. But why isn’t an instrumentalist approach as available here as it is with respect to quantum theory or, as the author says in chapter two, to scientific theories in general?

Also, the author greatly overstates the case for the contribution that the theory of evolution has made to biological research.
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Format: Paperback
This book has literally changed the way I look at the world. Understand that "science" really means "knowledge." Thus any scientist, engineer, or intellectual in any field should read this book. Well, I guess strictly speaking, they need to read any book on the philosophy of science, it's just that this one happens to be the one I read witch I feel is very good.
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