BOOKS to read

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

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RachelAnn
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BOOKS to read

Post by RachelAnn » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:33 am

Has anybody read either of these?
1. The unconscious quantum : metaphysics in modern physics and cosmology by Victor Stenger
2. Nothingness : the science of empty space by Henning Genz
I just ordered them from the library. Philosophy of science is an area of which I am completely ignorant.

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Rortabend
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Post by Rortabend » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:37 am

Hi RachelAnn,

These look more like popular science rather than philosophy of science. I'm sure they are interesting books but I don't think they are a good place to start learning about the philosophy of science. Popular science books tend to be rather suspicious of philosophy of science as discipline, yet at the same time they are full of rather naive philosophical claims. One need only think of the likes of Hawking and Dawkins, great scientists and writers to be sure, but not good philosophers.

RachelAnn
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Post by RachelAnn » Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:38 pm

Thank you for clarifying that point. I need guidance in this area, and it seems like an important part of today's philosophy.

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bullwinkle
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Post by bullwinkle » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:21 pm

Hi RachelAnn,

Try Thomas Kuhn's 'Structure of Scientific Revolutions' or Michael Polanyi's 'Personal Knowledge', the latter because Polanyi was a great scientist and a great philosopher - an unusual combination.

Bullwinkle

RachelAnn
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Post by RachelAnn » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:28 pm

Bullwinkle, Thank you for recommending these authors. I put them on my reading list. If it isn't written down, it's gone and forgotten.

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Rortabend
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Post by Rortabend » Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:15 pm

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/science/index.html

Check out these podcasts. Lots of great philosophers, sociologists and historians of science here.

I agree with Bullwinkle about starting with Kuhn. It's why I got into philosophy of science. Polanyi also good but much longer book than Kuhn's, also less important in the history of philosophy of science.

RachelAnn
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Post by RachelAnn » Wed Jul 02, 2008 5:51 pm

Thanks, Rortabend, for the website. This summer I am spending as much time as possible on filling in gaps of broad areas of philosophy.
My children are away for two months, so I read and write to keep from feeling blue. I miss them!!

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bullwinkle
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Post by bullwinkle » Sat Jul 05, 2008 4:53 pm

Rortabend wrote:I agree with Bullwinkle about starting with Kuhn. It's why I got into philosophy of science. Polanyi also good but much longer book than Kuhn's, also less important in the history of philosophy of science.
Rortabend, I think that your statement is correct. Polanyi seems to have been rather overlooked; I find his epistemology to be the most convincing that I have read. Do you have a view on why his philosophy has not been that important to science? My own view is that what he says is too uncomfortable for most scientists.

Do you have any other book recommendations for philosophy of science?

Thanks,
Bullwinkle

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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk » Sun Jul 06, 2008 7:26 pm

Hi RA,
If memory serves right then a good intro was once, What is This Thing Called Science? A.F. Chalmers. Moving on and to balance Kuhn, Karl Poppers "Conjectures & Refutations", a major work in Phil of Science due to his concept of falsification as the primary result of the scientific method. Advanced, Paul Feyerabend's Against Method(but I think its worth reading the intro(preface?) and noting that this book was meant to be one half of a duet with Imre Lakatos who died before he could write it).
I also think that an invaluable general backgrounder for this type of Philosophy is John Hospers An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis.
a_uk

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Rortabend
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Post by Rortabend » Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:56 pm

Rortabend, I think that your statement is correct. Polanyi seems to have been rather overlooked; I find his epistemology to be the most convincing that I have read. Do you have a view on why his philosophy has not been that important to science? My own view is that what he says is too uncomfortable for most scientists.
I don't know enough about Polanyi to answer your question. However, I would say you are on the right track when you say that what he says is too uncomfortable for scientists. Most scientists ignore philosophy of science with the notable exception of Popper.
Do you have any other book recommendations for philosophy of science?
Depends what you are interested in. If you are interested in learning more about why Kuhn was so influential (and perhaps why Polanyi was not) I would recommend Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for our Times by Steve Fuller.

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bullwinkle
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Post by bullwinkle » Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:36 pm

Rortabend wrote:Depends what you are interested in. If you are interested in learning more about why Kuhn was so influential (and perhaps why Polanyi was not) I would recommend Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for our Times by Steve Fuller.
Thanks.
Arising_uk wrote:If memory serves right then a good intro was once, What is This Thing Called Science? A.F. Chalmers. Moving on and to balance Kuhn, Karl Poppers "Conjectures & Refutations", a major work in Phil of Science due to his concept of falsification as the primary result of the scientific method.
I read Chalmers, the first half is quite good but it peters out after that and becomes quite superficial. It does give a reasonable account of falsification. I started Conjectures & Refutations earlier in the year but only read half of it as it seemed like the same idea re-hashed over and over again and it got less convincing the more I read.

Bullwinkle

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Rortabend
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Post by Rortabend » Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:21 am

I started Conjectures & Refutations earlier in the year but only read half of it as it seemed like the same idea re-hashed over and over again and it got less convincing the more I read.
Couldn't agree with you more bullwinkle. Popper does this a lot. He had one really clever idea and flogged it to death. Mind I suppose this did get him noticed by the scientific community!

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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk » Tue Jul 08, 2008 9:27 pm

Rortabend wrote:...He had one really clever idea and flogged it to death...
Yeah! Him and every other German Philosopher, apart from Wittgenstein.

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