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Science in the Looking Glass: What Do Scientists Really Know?

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Overview

How do scientific conjectures become laws? Why does proof mean different things in different sciences? Do numbers exist, or were they invented? Why do some laws turn out to be wrong?
In this wide-ranging book, Brian Davies discusses the basis for scientists' claims to knowledge about the world. He looks at science historically, emphasizing not only the achievements of scientists from Galileo onwards, but also their mistakes. He rejects the claim that all scientific knowledge is provisional, by citing examples from chemistry, biology and geology. A major feature of the book is its defence of the view that mathematics was invented rather than discovered. While experience has shown that disentangling knowledge from opinion and aspiration is a hard task, this book provides a clear guide to the difficulties.
Full of illuminating examples and quotations, and with a scope ranging from psychology and evolution to quantum theory and mathematics, this book brings alive issues at the heart of all science.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...Science in the Looking Glass is worth reading in your leisure time."—Physics Today

"I recommend this book unreservedly as a rich intellectual adventure. The issues Davies addresses may have been grappled with innumerable times in innumerable ways, but I doubt they have ever been put more concisely, clearly, and sanely."-Henry H. Bauer, Journal of Scientific Exploration

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199219186
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/23/2007
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor E. B. Davies
Department of Mathematics
King's College London

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Table of Contents

1. Perception and Language
2. Theories of the Mind
3. Arithmetic
4. How Hard can Problems get?
5. Pure Mathematics
6. Mechanics and Astronomy
7. Probability and Quantum Theory
8. Is Evolution a Theory?
9. Against Reductionism
10. Some Final Thoughts

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