• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

This comprehensive textbook provides a clear nontechnical introduction to the philosophy of science. Through asking whether science can provide us with objective knowledge of the world, the book provides a thorough and accessible guide to the key thinkers and debates that define the field. George Couvalis surveys traditional themes around theory and observation, induction, probability, falsification and rationality as well as more recent challenges to objectivity including relativistic, feminist and sociological readings. This provides a helpful framework in which to locate the key intellectual contributions to these debates, ranging from those of Mill and Hume, through Popper and Kuhn to Laudan, Bloor and Garfinkel among

Induction and Probability
Induction and probability

Many scientific theories contain generalizations, that is, statements which say that all items of a certain type have certain properties. Newton's theory of mechanics contains laws which are generalizations. An example is his first law, which says that all objects which are not acted upon by a force will continue forever in a state of rest or uniform straight-line motion. Pasteur's germ theory contains generalizations, such as all infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms. Generalizations like these play an essential part in science, which seeks to explain and predict the behaviour of things by using them. The behaviour of satellites in Earth orbits is in part explained and predicted by Newton's first law. The reduction in the incidence of infectious ...

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