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What is This Thing Called Science?

By: Alan F Chalmers (Author)

Open University Press

Paperback | Jun 2013 | Edition: 4 | #223456 | ISBN-13: 9780335262786
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About this book

A brand new edition of an internationally renowned science bestseller Now well into its fourth decade, What is This Thing Called Science? has become something of a classic the world over, available in nineteen languages. Each decade Alan Chalmers has drawn on his experience as a teacher and researcher to improve and update the text. In his accessible style, Chalmers illuminates the major developments in the field over the past few years.

The most significant feature of this new, fourth, edition is the addition of an extensive postscript, in which Chalmers uses the results of his recent research into the history of atomism to illustrate and enliven key themes in the philosophy of science. Identifying the qualitative difference between knowledge of atoms as it figures in contemporary science and metaphysical speculations about atoms common in philosophy since the time of Democritus proves to be a highly revealing and instructive way to pinpoint key features of the answer to the question 'What is this thing called science?'

This new edition ensures that What is This Thing Called Science? holds its place as the leading introduction to the philosophy of science for the foreseeable future.

"Successive editions have retained and refined its clear, engaging and witty discussions of the most important topics in the field, incorporating the best new research in the field. This latest edition also adds a valuable layer of grounding in the history of science, particularly based on Chalmers' recent extensive research on the history of atomism."
- Hasok Chang, Department of History and Philosophy of Science
- Hans Rausing Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, UK

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See the previous edition

What is this Thing Called Science?

What is the characteristic that serves to distinguish scientific knowledge...

NHBS Price: £22.99 $28/€26 approx


Preface to the first edition
Preface to the second edition
Preface to the third edition Preface to the fourth edition

Science as knowledge derived from the facts of experience
Observation as practical intervention
Deriving theories from the facts: induction
Introducing falsificationism
Sophisticated falsificationism, novel predictions and the growth of science
The limitations of falsificationism
Theories as structures I: Kuhn's paradigms
Theories as structures II: research programmes
Feyerabend's anarchistic theory of science
Methodical changes in method
The Bayesian approach
The new experimentalism
Why should the world obey laws?
Realism and anti-realism

Epilogue to the third edition
Index of names

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Alan Chalmers is Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, where he taught from 1971, first in the School of Philosophy, and from 1987 in the Unit for the History and Philosophy of Science, which he was instrumental in setting up. Born in Bristol, UK, in 1939, he graduated in physics at the University of Bristol in 1961, and received an MSc in physics from the University of Manchester in 1964. He taught physics and the history of science for two years before returning to full-time study at the University of London, where he received his PhD in history and philosophy of science in 1971. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Humanities in 1997 and was a Visiting Scholar in the Philosophy Department at Flinders University from 2000 to 2010.

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