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Now in its third edition, Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science strengthens its reputation as the most accessible and teachable introduction to the history and philosophy of science on the market. Geared toward engaging undergraduates and those approaching the history and philosophy of science for the first time, this intellectually-provocative volume takes advantage of its author's extensive teaching experience, parsing complex ideas using straightforward and sensible examples drawn from the physical sciences.
Building on the foundations which earned the book its critical acclaim, author Richard DeWitt considers fundamental issues in the philosophy of science through the historical worldviews that influenced them, charting the evolution of Western science through the rise and fall of dominant systems of thought. Chapters have been updated to include discussion of recent findings in quantum theory, general relativity, and evolutionary theory, and two new chapters exclusive to the third edition enrich its engagement with radical developments in contemporary science.
At a time in modern history when the nature of truth, fact, and reality seem increasingly controversial, the third edition of Worldviews presents complex concepts with clarity and verve, and prepares inquisitive minds to engage critically with some of the most exciting questions in the philosophy of science.
List of Figures xv
Part I: Fundamental Issues 5
1 Worldviews 7
2 Truth 17
3 Empirical Facts and Philosophical/Conceptual Facts 31
4 Confirming and Disconfirming Evidence and Reasoning 36
5 The Quine–Duhem Thesis and Implications for Scientific Method 43
6 A Philosophical Interlude: Problems and Puzzles of Induction 54
7 Falsifiability 61
Part II: The Transition from the Aristotelian Worldview to the Newtonian Worldview 73
8 Instrumentalism and Realism 66
9 The Structure of the Universe on the Aristotelian Worldview 75
10 The Preface to Ptolemy’s Almagest: The Earth as Spherical, Stationary, and at the Center of the Universe 81
11 Astronomical Data: The Empirical Facts 92
12 Astronomical Data: The Philosophical/Conceptual Facts 99
13 The Ptolemaic System 106
14 The Copernican System 115
15 The Tychonic System 125
16 Kepler’s System 128
17 Galileo and the Evidence from the Telescope 138
18 A Summary of Problems Facing the Aristotelian Worldview 154
19 Philosophical and Conceptual Connections in the Development of the New Science 159
20 Overview of the New Science and the Newtonian Worldview 164
21 Philosophical Interlude: What Is a Scientific Law? 171
Part III: Recent Developments In Science and Worldviews 191
22 The Development of the Newtonian Worldview, 1700–1900 179
23 The Special Theory of Relativity 193
24 The General Theory of Relativity 211
25 Philosophical Interlude: Are (Some) Scientific Theories Incommensurable? 219
26 Introduction to Quantum Theory: Basic Empirical Facts and the Mathematics of Quantum Theory 230
27 The Reality Question: The Measurement Problem and Interpretations of Quantum Theory 248
28 Quantum Theory and Locality: EPR, Bell’s Theorem, and the Aspect Experiments 272
29 Overview of the Theory of Evolution 286
30 Reflections on Evolution 300
31 Worldviews: Concluding Thoughts 320
Richard DeWitt is Professor of Philosophy at Fairfield University. His research interests are in the areas of mathematical and philosophical logic and the philosophy of mind. Recent publications include work with infinite valued logics in the Journal of Philosophical Logic and medieval logic in the International Philosophical Quarterly.
- Winner of the 2018 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title
Reviews of previous editions:
"This is a brilliantly clear introduction (and indeed reframing) of the history and philosophy of science in terms of worldviews and their elements [...] . In addition, the book is incredibly well-informed from both a scientific and philosophical angle. Highly recommended."
– Scientific and Medical Network
"Unlike many other introductions to philosophy of science, DeWitt's book is at once historically informative and philosophically thorough and rigorous. Chapter notes, suggested readings, and references enhance its value."
"Written in clear and comprehensible prose and supplemented by effective diagrams and examples, Worldviews is an ideal text for anyone new to the history and philosophy of science. As the reader will come to find out, DeWitt is a gifted writer with the unique ability to break down complex and technical concepts into digestible parts, making Worldviews a welcoming and not overwhelming book for the introductory reader."
– History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, vol. 28(2)