Understand Philosophy of Science
A modern understanding of the world is unthinkable without science, but what exactly is it?
What does it mean to say that something is ‘scientific’?
How are its results justified?
From the genetic basis of life to the structures of the universe or the atom, this book explores how the key ideas that shape our world have been developed. It...
gives a broad introduction to the history of science and its impact on Western thought;
examines scientific method, and asks what it means to call something ‘scientific’;
introduces key philosophers and scientists.
No previous knowledge of either philosophy or science is required. All terms are fully explained in the text.
'I hope I never loose the capacity to be amazed, whether by the dimensions of space, the intricate systems of nature or the workings of the human brain. Much of what we know about the physical world is conveyed to us by science, and so successful has it been in the last four centuries that there is a danger of slipping into an unquestioning acceptance of every latest theory. However, science remains a human activity, and as such it is based on ideas and arguments that should be examined rationally, questioned and sometimes challenged.'
From the introduction...
Philosophy is all about asking questions, examining arguments and generally getting to grips with reality. Nobody is likely to get involved with philosophy unless he or she has some sense that the world is an exciting and sometimes confusing place, and that human life is there to be examined as well as enjoyed.
Nowhere is this fascination with the world more evident than in science and the technology that it makes possible. From speculations about the origins of matter, to the understanding and manipulation of genetic information or the workings of the human body, it thrives on the human desire to unlock the mysteries of the world around us – both for the sake of knowledge itself and for the benefits it can offer.
We all know what science is and appreciate what it can contribute to human wellbeing, but why should there be a Philosophy of Science? Surely, science explains itself and validates what it does through the results it achieves. Well, not exactly. For one thing, ‘science’ is simply a label that is given to certain methods of investigation, and it is quite reasonable to ask whether a field of study is, from the perspective of the rest of science, genuine or bogus. Astronomy is scientific, but what about astrology? Mainstream medicine is scientific, but what of faith healing? Or herbalism? Or homeopathy? And what of the claim that a product is ‘scientifically proven’ to give health benefits? What does such a claim imply and how can it be verified? These are all questions that require careful attention.