Science Rules: A Historical Introduction to Scientific Methods / Edition 1

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Is there a universal set of rules for discovering and testing scientific hypotheses? Since the birth of modern science, philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers have wrestled with this fundamental question of scientific practice. Efforts to devise rigorous methods for obtaining scientific knowledge include the twenty-one rules Descartes proposed in his Rules for the Direction of the Mind and the four rules of reasoning that begin the third book of Newton's Principia, and continue today in debates over the very possibility of such rules. Bringing together key primary sources spanning almost four centuries, Science Rules introduces readers to scientific methods that have played a prominent role in the history of scientific practice.

Editor Peter Achinstein includes works by scientists and philosophers of science to offer a new perspective on the nature of scientific reasoning. For each of the methods discussed, he presents the original formulation of the method; selections written by a proponent of the method together with an application to a particular scientific example; and a critical analysis of the method that draws on historical and contemporary sources.

The methods included in this volume are Cartesian rationalism with an application to Descartes' laws of motion; Newton's inductivism and the law of gravity; two versions of hypothetico-deductivism—those of William Whewell and Karl Popper—and the nineteenth-century wave theory of light; Paul Feyerabend's principle of proliferation and Thomas Kuhn's views on scientific values, both of which deny that there are universal rules of method, with an application to Galileo's tower argument. Included also is a famous nineteenth-century debate about scientific reasoning between the hypothetico-deductivist William Whewell and the inductivist John Stuart Mill; and an account of the realism-antirealism dispute about unobservables in science, with a consideration of Perrin's argument for the existence of molecules in the early twentieth century.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801879449
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 427
  • Sales rank: 1,366,792
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Achinstein is a professor of philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University. His previous books include Concepts of Science, Law and Explanation, The Nature of Explanation, Particles and Waves, and The Book of Evidence.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Descartes' rationalism & laws of motion
1 Descartes' methodological rules : from Rules for the direction of the mind 17
2 Descartes' ontological proof of God : from Meditations on first philosophy 35
3 Descartes' laws of motion : from Principles of philosophy 40
4 A discussion of Descartes' methodology : from Descartes' Metaphysical physics 48
Pt. II Newton's inductivism & and law of gravity
5 Newton's methodological rules : from The principia, book 3 78
6 Newton's "phenomena" and derivation of the law of gravity : from The principia, book 3 81
7 Newton on "hypotheses," God, and gravity : from The principia, general scholium 95
8 Cohen's discussion of Newton's methodology : from A guide to Newton's principia 99
9 Whewell's critique of Newton's methodology : from The philosophy of the inductive sciences 112
Pt. III Hypothetico-deductivism, the Mill-Whewell debate, & the wave theory of light
10 Young's wave theory of light : from A course of lectures on natural philosophy 137
11 Whewell's hypothetico-deductivism : from The philosophy of the inductive sciences 150
12 Popper's falsificationism : from The logic of scientific discovery 168
13 Mill's inductivism and debate with Whewell : from A system of logic, book 3 173
14 The wave theory of light and the Mill-Whewell debate : waves and scientific method 234
Pt. IV Realism vs. antirealism & molecular reality
15 Duhem's antirealism : from The aim and structure of physical theory 258
16 Van Fraassen's antirealism : from The scientific image 281
17 Perrin's realism and argument for molecules : from Atoms 298
18 Salmon's empirical defense of realism : from Scientific explanation and the causal structure of the world 312
19 Realism and Perrin's argument for molecules : is there a valid experimental argument for scientific realism? 327
Pt. V Galileo's tower argument & rejections of universal rules of method
20 Galileo's refutation of the tower argument : from Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems 361
21 Feyerabend's rejection of universal rules : from Against method : outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge 372
22 A critique of Feyerabend's anarchism : proliferation : is it a good thing? 389
23 Kuhn's rejection of universal rules : from The structure of scientific revolutions 402
24 A discussion of Kuhn's "values" : subjective views of Kuhn 412
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