Phil Sci

Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Science in General

  • Useful sites:
  • Online books:
    • Twentieth Century Philosophy of Science, by Thomas J. Hickey (1995), is available to download for educational purposes here.
  • The following video from Massimo Pigliucci (City University of New York) provides a snappy 5-minute introduction to the Philosophy of Science:
  • To categorize: Cold fusion: A case study for scientific behaviour.
  • The understanding science site, here/

Key Concepts In the Philosophy of Science

Demarcation Criteria
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • Evidence: IEP
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
  • Podcasts:
    • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses the idea of "Laws of Nature" with Mark Buchanan (author of Ubiquity), Frank Close (author of Lucifer’s Legacy), and Nancy Cartwright (LSE).
    • The Philpapers category for Laws of Nature
Observation and Theory-ladenness
Ockham's Razor
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • Simplicity in the Philosophy of Science: IEP
  • The Philpapers category for Simplicity and Parsimony
  • Podcasts:
    • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses the philosophical significance of William of Ockham and Ockham's razor with Sir Anthony Kenny (Oxford), Marilyn Adams (Oxford) and Richard Cross (Oxford).
Unity of Science
Reduction & Emergence
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
  • The IEP has entries on:
  • The "Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind" has this entry on Concepts of Intertheoretic Reduction in Contemporary Philosophy of Mind.
  • Various open access papers on emergence, levels, complexity and causation are accessible here.
  • Massimo Pigliucci (City University of New York) is a 5 minute introduction to Reductionism in the Philosophy of Science.
  • The Philpapers category for Emergence
  • The Philpapers category for Reduction
Underdetermination of Theory by Evidence
  • Encyclopaedia entries:
  • The following clip from the 1999 movie, Joan of Arc, nicely illustrates the idea that there can be multiple competing explanations of the same datum:
Scientific Realism
Scientific Change

Scientific Methodology

  • Philpapers category for the scientific method
    Scientific Progress
    Scientific Problem Solving
    • This clip, from the Royal Institution, is about the technical challenges of isolating fluorine, and Michael Faraday's failure to solve them:
    The Null Hypothesis
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • NHST
    • This clip, from the series This Thing Called Science, briefly explains what a "null hypothesis" is, and explains why it is important to test a null hypothesis with data drawn from a large and representative sample:
  • Key Philosophers

    Francis Bacon (1561—1626)
    • Online versions of Bacon's works:
      • The New Organon (1620): here
      • The Advancement of Learning: here
      • The Essays of Francis Bacon: here (audio book)
      • New Atlantis: here
      • The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral: here
      • Valerius Terminus: Of the Interpretation of Nature: here
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Bacon: SEP and IEP
      • Bacon on the Philosophy of Technology: IEP
    • Podcasts:
      • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses Francis Bacon and the Baconian Method with Patricia Fara, Stephen Pumfrey and Rhodri Lewi.
    Rene Descartes
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • René Descartes on the Scientific MethodIEP
    Logical Positivism
    • Open access copies of major positivist works include:
      • Extract from A General View of Positivism (Auguste Comte, 1856): here
      • Epistemology & Modern Physics (Moritz Schlick, 1925): here
      • Introduction and Chapter 1 The Logic of Modern Physics (Percy Bridgman, 1927): here
      • Full tex of Language, Truth and Logic (A. J. Ayer, 1936): here
      • Chapters 23--26 of Philosophical Foundations of Physics (Rudolph Carnap, 1966): here
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Logical empiricism: SEP
      • Logical positivism: IEP
      • Vienna Circle: SEP and IEP
      • A. J. Ayer (1910—1989): SEP
      • Rudolph Carnap (1891—1970): IEP
      • Carl Hempel (1905—1997): SEP and IEP
      • Ernst Mach: SEP
      • Otto Neurath: SEP
      • Hans Reichenbach: SEP and IEP
      • Moritz Schlick: SEP
    • This podcast from The Partially Examined Life is about Carnap's The Logical Structure of the World (or Aufbau) (1928) and its attempt to translate the content of all scientific theories into sentences about immediate experience.
    • Podcasts:
      • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses the eye-wateringly radical early 20th century philosophical movement, logical positivism, with Barry Smith (University of London), Nancy Cartwright (LSE) and Thomas Uebel (Manchester).
    Karl Popper (1902-1994)
    • Open access copies of Popper's works include:
      • The Problem of Induction (1953): here
      • Science as Falsification (1963): here or here (excerpted from Conjectures and Refutations)
      • The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959): here
      • Science as Falsification (1963): here (excerpted from Conjectures and Refutations)
      • Language and The Body-Mind Problem: a Restatement of Interactionism (1953): here
      • The Open Society and its Enemies (1945): here
      • Facts, Standards, and Truth: a Further Criticism of Relativism (1961): here (excerpted from The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume II)
      • A Realist View of Logic, Physics, and History (1966): here (a chapter from Objective Knowledge)
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Popper: SEP and Routledge
      • Science and pseudo science: SEP
      • Popper on Critical Rationalism: IEP
    • Useful sites and resources:
      • The Critical Rationalism Blog has a good list of links to all things Popper.
      • Book 4 of Thomas J. Hickey's (1995) Twentieth Century Philosophy of Science deals with Popper's philosophy of science. It is available online, here.
    • Podcasts:
      • In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg discusses Popper's approach to the philosophy of science with John Worrall (LSE), Anthony O'Hear (Buckingham University) and Nancy Cartwright (LSE and the University of California).
      • PEL: a brief summary of Popper's claims in the first three essays of Conjectures and Refutations.
      • PEL: on Popper's argument in the first three chapters of Conjectures and Refutations (1963), and his view about what distinguishes Science from non-Science.
    • The following clip is one of a series of six -- the others are Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 -- in which Popper discusses History (the first 2 clips), Language (the next two) and Knowledge (the last two). (The clips are from the 1988 BBC Channel 4 programme, "Uncertain Truth".
    W.V.O. Quine (1908-2000)
    • Open access copies of Quine's works include:
      • On What There Is (1948): here
      • The Verification Theory and Reductionism (1951): here
      • Two Dogmas of Empiricism (1951 & 1961): here
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Quine: SEP
      • Quine on the Philosophy of Science: IEP
      • Underdetermination of Scientific Theory: SEP
      • The Analytic / Synthetic Distinction: SEP
      • Quine on the Analytic / Synthetic Distinction: IEP
      • Naturalized Epistemology: SEP and IEP
      • Logic and Ontology: SEP
    • This podcast from The Partially Examined Life is about Quine's On What There Is (1948) and Two Dogmas of Empiricism (1951), and the ontological commitments of scientific theories.
    Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)
    • Open access copies of Kuhn's works include:
      • Chapter 9 of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962): here
      • Extracts from What are Scientific Revolutions? (1987): here
      • The Function of Dogma in Scientific Research (1963): here
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Kuhn: SEP
      • Incommensurability of Scientific Theories: SEP
      • Naturalized Epistemology [Kuhn]: IEP
      • Scientific Change [Kuhn]: IEP
      • Scientific Revolutions: SEP
    • Useful links and resources:
      • Book 6 of Thomas J. Hickey's (1995) Twentieth Century Philosophy of Science deals in part with Kuhn's philosophy of science. It is available online, here.
    • Podcasts:
      • PEL: a short summary of Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962).
      • PEL: on Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) and the question as to whether scientific progress is genuine.
    • The following 3 part video introduces Kuhn's main claims:
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • The IEP has:
      • This discussion of Lakatos' account of progressing and degenerating research programs.
      • xxx
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • The IEP has:
      • This discussion of Laudan's account of Research Traditions.
      • xxx
    Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994)
    • Open access copies of Feyerabend's works include:
      • Analytical table of contents and concluding chapter of Against Method(1975): here
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • Book 6 of Thomas J. Hickey's (1995) Twentieth Century Philosophy of Science deals in part with Feyerabend's philosophy of science. It is available online, here.
    Feminist Philosophy of Science

    Key Scientists

    Copernicus (1473–1543)
    Tycho Brahe (1546–1601)
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    Kepler (1571–1630)
    Galileo (1564–1642)
    • Open access translations of Galileo's works include:
      • Galileo’s Considerations on the Copernican Opinion (1615): here.
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    Isaac Newton (1642–1727)
    • Open access translations of Newton's major works include:
      • The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1729): here (includes opening pages of the Principia up to the three laws of motion; opening pages of Book III, The System of the World, with rules for Philosophy, plus the closing comments with his view of God).
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Newton: SEP and MacTutor
      • Newton's Philosophy: SEP
      • Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica: SEP
      • Newton's Views on Space, Time, and Motion: SEP
    Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912)
    • Open access translations of Poincaré's major works include:
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Poincaré: IEP
    Ernst Mach (????)
    • Major works
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    Albert Einstein (????)
    • Major works
    • Encyclopaedia entries:

    Philosophy of Biology

    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • Evolution: SEP
      • History of Evolution: IEP
      • Natural Selection: SEP
      • Units and Levels of Selection: SEP
      • Gene: SEP
      • The Genotype Phenotype Distinction: SEP
      • Fitness: SEP
      • ReplicationSEP
      • Heritability: SEP
      • Adaptionism: SEP
      • Darwinism: SEP
      • Creationism: SEP
      • Evolutionary Genetics: SEP
      • Molecular Genetics: SEP
      • Population Genetics: SEP
      • Cultural Evolution: SEP
      • Biological Altruism: SEP
      • Altruism and Group Selection: IEP
      • The Distinction Between Innate and Acquired Characteristics: SEP
      • Epigenesis and Preformationism: SEP
    • Understanding Evolution for Teachers (an excellent Berkeley website) features:
      • Evolution 101, a thorough introduction the basics of evolutionary theory, covering topics like macroevolution, microevolution, and evolutionary mechanisms.
      • Teaching materials for levels from K2 through to undergraduate.
      • A resource library, including pages on misconceptions about evolution and evidence for evolution.
    • The IEP has entries on:
    • Useful links and resources:
      • M. von Sydow (2012) From Darwinian Metaphysics towards Understanding the Evolution of Evolutionary Mechanisms - A Historical and Philosophical Analysis of Gene-Darwinism and Universal Darwinism, Universitätsverlag Göttingen, is a book available online here.
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    • Erwin Schrödinger's classic short book, What is Life?, in which he presented far-sighted ideas on how hereditary information could be encoded in a chemical structure in living cells, is here.
    • In the following lecture, Nobel Prize winner and President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, takes inspiration from Schrödinger's book to ask what can we now say about the nature of life.
    • In the next video Richard Dawkins, J. Craig Venter, Nobel laureates Sidney Altman and Leland Hartwell, Chris McKay, Paul Davies, Lawrence Krauss, and The Science Network's Roger Bingham discuss the origins of life, the possibility of finding life elsewhere, and the latest development in synthetic biology. It starts with an interesting debate over the definition of "life".
    Philosophy of Biology: Teleology and Functions

    Philosophy of Physics

    Philosophy of Physics in General
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
    Anthropic Principle and Multiverse Theories
    Philosophy of Cosmology
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Argument and the Bell Inequalities: IEP
    Block universe
    • Encyclopaedia entries:
      • An A-theoretic interpretation of Special Relativity
      • Lorentz
      • GR
    Quantum Mechanics

    Ethics and Science

    • This clip, from the series This Thing Called Science, briefly describes some of the ways that ethics and science intersect:

    Evolutionary Psychology