Thursday, April 24, 2008

Review of Ladyman's Understanding Philosophy of Science

James Ladyman's Understanding Philosophy of Science is a pretty good beginning text in the philosophy of science. It is very well organized, and as straight forward as can be. There are two main sections. The first deals with the scientific method, the second deals with the question of realism.

The first section goes through the various stages in the philosophy, especially the question of induction, from the rather naive position of Francis Bacon through falsificationism and the theory of scientific revolutions.

The second section is about the question of realism, especially the problems created by underdetermination, explanation, and inference to the best explanation. There is a very good focus on van Fraassen and the nature of constructive empiricism.

This book is an excellent choice for a first introduction to the main questions in contemporary philosophy of science.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Review of Wesley Salmon's Four Decades of Scientific Explanation

Four Decades of Scientific Explanation Is an excellent overview of the history of scientific explanation as seen from the standpoint of one of its most significant contributors.

Since the late nineteenth century is is generally agreed that science provides explanations of the phenomena in the natural world. But exactly what does an explanation look like? What form does an explanation take? How do we recognize an explanation and distinguish it from pseudo-explanations and the like?

Salmon's history covers the discussion from Hempel to the state of the art in 1989 when the book was written. He covers all the major theories and all the major questions. The book is highly readable, and definitely a worthwhile investment for those who want to understand this corner of the philosophy of science.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Last weekend "D", "L", and "S" and I spent a few days in Miami. It was quite relaxing. I spent most of my time near the pool working. I think now I am suffering from nice weather withdrawal.

I am off playing soldier this weekend, and hopefully I will be able to get back to doing some serious work after that.