Philosophy of Science : The Great Courses: History of Science

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Jeffrey L. Kasser
  • Series: The Great Courses: History of Science
  • 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

What makes science science? Why is science so successful? How do we distinguish science from pseudoscience? This exciting inquiry into the vigorous debate over the nature of science covers important philosophers such as Karl Popper, W. V. Quine, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos, Carl Hempel, Nelson Goodman, and Bas van Fraassen.
These thinkers responded in one way or another to logical positivism, the dominant movement influencing the philosophy of science during the first half of the 20th century - a movement whose eventual demise is an object lesson in how truly difficult it is to secure the logical foundations of a subject that seems so unassailably logical: science.
The philosophy of science can be abstract and theoretical, but it is also surprisingly practical. Science plays a pivotal role in our society, and a rigorous study of its philosophical foundations sheds light on the ideas, methods, institutions, and habits of mind that have so astonishingly and successfully transformed our world.
In the course of these 36 stimulating lectures, you will investigate a wide range of philosophical approaches to science, including empiricism, constructivism, scientific realism, and Bayesianism. You'll also examine such concepts as natural kinds, bridge laws, Hume's fork, the covering-law model, the hypothetico-deductive model, and inference to the best explanation (mistakenly called "deduction" in the Sherlock Holmes stories).
Professor Kasser shows how these and other tools allow us to take apart scientific arguments and examine their inner workings - all the while remaining an impartial guide as you navigate the arguments among different philosophers during the past 100 years.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Relativistic Ignorance

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A expositor who truly understood the subject and that was able to provide information that one could reasonable trust.

Has Philosophy of Science turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. The fact that this individual demonstrated ignorance of the theory of special relativity does not obviate the fact that many philosophers of science have professional level competence in both science and philosophy.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The presenter in this case is also the author. As a presenter he was quite adequate, the problem being with the material itself.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

In many ways the philosophical reasoning was both interesting and informative. The problem was that the author made completely erronious statements about the theory of special relativity. Thus he stated that the theory only deals with constant velocity motion. In fact the difference between special and general relativity is that the general theory includes gravity. As a look into any basic physics text that discusses the special theory shows the special theory deals quite well with accelerated motion. For example the description of the famous twin paradox involves the traveling twin to turn around and return to the location of the stay at home twin. Since this certainly involves acceleration the explanation using special relativity is certainly dealing with accelerated motion. The author's unequivocal incorrect statements about this indicated to me that I could not trust his statements about subjects of which I'm ignorant and pretty much ruined the presentation for me. A philosopher of science should at least have someone knowledgable in any field he discusses look over his work.

Any additional comments?

The teaching company in claiming to choose presenters with academic excellence should certainly have their courses reviewed by knowledgable individuals. In this case they failed!

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- Martin Lesser "Retired professor of theoretical mechanics and fluid dynamics."

Wonderful series

I'm a physics grad student and never had the time to formally take any philosophy classes, let alone specifically on the philosophy of science, but getting into my work made me want to have a philosophical framework through which I could see everything I was doing. I wanted to understand what made science, science, so I could put my research in a broader context. This class, which was brilliantly written and spoken, helped me get glimpses of many different bodies of thought and gave me enough of a framework to develop a personal philosophy. Everything is very well explained with an well thought out historical narrative throughout.

All in all, I cannot recommend this series enough. I loved it and I'm sure you will too if you're anywhere near my shoes.
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- Claire C McLauchin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses