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Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science, 3rd Edition

Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science, 3rd Edition

Richard DeWitt

ISBN: 978-1-119-11889-3 June 2018 Wiley-Blackwell 384 Pages


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Winner of the 2018 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title!


"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)

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.

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List of Figures xv

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction 1

Part I: Fundamental Issues 5

1 Worldviews 7

Aristotle’s Beliefs and the Aristotelian Worldview 7

Aristotle’s beliefs 8

The Aristotelian worldview 12

The Newtonian Worldview 12

Concluding Remarks 13

Evidence 13

Common sense 14

2 Truth 17

Preliminary Issues 17

Clarifying the Question 18

Correspondence Theories of Truth 19

Coherence Theories of Truth 20

Different versions of coherence theories 20

Problems/Puzzles about Correspondence Theories of Truth 22

Assessing the accuracy of representations 23

The Total Recall scenario 24

A word of caution 26

Problems/Puzzles for Coherence Theories of Truth 26

Philosophical Reflections: Descartes and the Cogito 28

Concluding Remarks 29

3 Empirical Facts and Philosophical/Conceptual Facts 31

Preliminary Observations 31

A Note on Terminology 34

Concluding Remarks 34

4 Confirming and Disconfirming Evidence and Reasoning 36

Confirmation Reasoning 36

Disconfirmation Reasoning 37

Inductive and Deductive Reasoning 37

Concluding Remarks 42

5 The Quine–Duhem Thesis and Implications for Scientific Method 43

The Quine–Duhem Thesis 43

Bodies of beliefs and the tribunal of experience 44

Crucial experiments 45

The underdetermination of theories 46

Implications for Scientific Method 47

Aristotle’s axiomatic approach 48

Descartes’ axiomatic approach 51

Popper’s falsificationism 51

The hypothetico-deductive method 52

Concluding Remarks 53

6 A Philosophical Interlude: Problems and Puzzles of Induction 54

Hume’s Problem of Induction 54

Hempel’s Raven Paradox 57

Goodman’s Gruesome Problem 59

Concluding Remarks 60

7 Falsifiability 61

Basic Ideas 61

Complicating Factors 62

Concluding Remarks 64

8 Instrumentalism and Realism 66

Prediction and Explanation 66

Instrumentalism and Realism 67

Concluding Remarks 70

Part II: The Transition from the Aristotelian Worldview to the Newtonian Worldview 73

9 The Structure of the Universe on the Aristotelian Worldview 75

The Physical Structure of the Universe 75

Conceptual Beliefs about the Universe 77

Concluding Remarks 80

10 The Preface to Ptolemy’s Almagest: The Earth as Spherical, Stationary, and at the Center of the Universe 81

The Earth as Spherical 82

The Earth as Stationary 84

Common-sense arguments 84

The argument from objects in motion 86

The argument from stellar parallax 88

The Earth as the Center of the Universe 90

Concluding Remarks 91

11 Astronomical Data: The Empirical Facts 92

The Movement of the Stars 93

The Movement of the Sun 94

The Movement of the Moon 95

The Movement of the Planets 95

Concluding Remarks 98

12 Astronomical Data: The Philosophical/Conceptual Facts 99

A Scientific Problem with the Motion of the Heavenly Bodies 99

Three cautionary notes 102

Could This Account Be Used for a Moving Earth? 103

Concluding Remarks 104

13 The Ptolemaic System 106

Background Information 106

A Brief Description of the Components of Ptolemy’s Treatment of Mars 107

The Rationale behind These Components 108

Concluding Remarks 114

14 The Copernican System 115

Background Information 115

Overview of the Copernican System 116

Comparison of the Ptolemaic and Copernican Systems 117

Respecting the facts 117

Complexity 118

Retrograde motion and other more “natural” explanations 118

From a realist standpoint, which system is the more plausible model of the universe? 120

What Motivated Copernicus? 121

Neoplatonism 121

Copernicus’ commitment to uniform, circular movement 122

The Reception of the Copernican Theory 123

Concluding Remarks 124

15 The Tychonic System 125

16 Kepler’s System 128

Background Information 128

Tycho Brahe’s empirical observations 128

Tycho and Kepler 129

Kepler’s System 130

What Motivated Kepler? 131

Kepler’s desire to read the mind of God 132

Concluding Remarks 136

17 Galileo and the Evidence from the Telescope 138

Background Information 138

Galileo and the Catholic church 138

A note on the nature of the evidence from the telescope 139

Galileo’s Evidence from the Telescope 141

Mountains on the moon 141

Sunspots 142

The rings, or “ears,” of Saturn 142

The moons of Jupiter 143

The phases of Venus 144

The stars 148

The Reception of Galileo’s Discoveries 148

Falsifiability issues 149

Concluding Remarks 152

18 A Summary of Problems Facing the Aristotelian Worldview 154

Problems for the Aristotelian Worldview 154

The Need for a New Science 157

Concluding Remarks 157

A word of caution 158

19 Philosophical and Conceptual Connections in the Development of the New Science 159

The Size of the Universe 159

Concluding Remarks 162

20 Overview of the New Science and the Newtonian Worldview 164

The New Science 164

The three laws of motion 165

Universal gravitation 165

Overview of the Newtonian Worldview 166

Philosophical Reflections: Instrumentalist and Realist Attitudes Toward Newton’s Concept of Gravity 168

Concluding Remarks 170

21 Philosophical Interlude: What Is a Scientific Law? 171

Scientific Laws 171

Common features associated with scientific laws 172

Exceptionless regularities 174

Counterfactuals 174

Context dependence 176

Ceteris paribus clauses 177

Concluding Remarks 178

22 The Development of the Newtonian Worldview, 1700–1900 179

Remarks on the Development of the Major Branches of Science, 1700–1900 179

Chemistry 180

Biology 181

Electromagnetic theory 182

General comments 184

Minor Clouds 184

The Michelson–Morley experiment 184

Black body radiation 187

Other issues 188

Concluding Remarks 190

Part III: Recent Developments In Science and Worldviews 191

23 The Special Theory of Relativity 193

Absolute Space and Absolute Time 193

Overview of the Special Theory of Relativity 195

The Irresistible Why Question 201

Is Special Relativity Self-Contradictory? 201

What about their disagreements on what the other clocks read? 204

From Joe’s point of view 205

From Sara’s point of view 205

Spacetime, Invariants, and the Geometrical Approach to Relativity 206

Concluding Remarks 210

24 The General Theory of Relativity 211

Basic Principles 211

The Einstein Field Equations and Predictions of General Relativity 213

Philosophical Reflections: General Relativity and Gravity 217

Concluding Remarks 218

25 Philosophical Interlude: Are (Some) Scientific Theories Incommensurable? 219

Preliminary Considerations 219

Exploring Incommensurability 221

Terminological incommensurability 222

Methodological incommensurability 224

Different worlds incommensurability 226

Discussion: Incommensurability and Scientific Progress 227

Concluding Remarks 229

26 Introduction to Quantum Theory: Basic Empirical Facts and the Mathematics of Quantum Theory 230

Facts, Theory, and Interpretation 230

The quantum facts 231

Quantum theory itself 231

Interpretations of quantum theory 232

Some Quantum Facts 232

A brief excursion into a reality issue 233

Four experiments 235

Overview of the Mathematics of Quantum Theory 239

Descriptive overview of the mathematics of quantum theory 239

If the mathematics of quantum theory is a familiar sort of wave mathematics, why do we often hear that quantum theory is such an unusual theory? 240

A somewhat more detailed, but still descriptive, overview of the mathematics of quantum theory 242

The evolution of states over time 247

Concluding Remarks 247

27 The Reality Question: The Measurement Problem and Interpretations of Quantum Theory 248

The Measurement Problem 248

What is a measurement? 248

The role of measurement in Newtonian science 250

The role of measurement in quantum theory 250

Schrödinger’s cat 253

The Measurement Problem 255

Subjectivity vs. objectivity 255

Measurement contexts vs. nonmeasurement contexts 256

System vs. apparatus; macroscopic vs. microscopic levels 256

Universality 257

Concluding thoughts on the measurement problem 258

Interpretations of Quantum Theory 258

Collapse interpretations 259

Mild measurement-dependent reality 261

Moderate measurement-dependent reality 262

Radical measurement-dependent reality (consciousness-dependent reality) 262

Non-collapse interpretations 263

Einstein’s realism 263

Bohm’s realism 265

The many-worlds interpretation 267

Observations on the interpretations of quantum theory 268

Concluding Remarks 271

28 Quantum Theory and Locality: EPR, Bell’s Theorem, and the Aspect Experiments 272

Background Information 272

The EPR Thought Experiment 273

The argument for (1) 275

Bell’s Theorem 276

Aspect’s Experiments 280

Locality, Nonlocality, and Spooky Action at a Distance 281

Concluding Remarks 285

29 Overview of the Theory of Evolution 286

Overview of the Basics of Evolutionary Theory 286

Darwin’s and Wallace’s discovery: Evolution by natural selection 286

A brief overview of evolutionary theory since Darwin and Wallace 288

A word of caution 292

Darwin’s and Wallace’s Paths to Natural Selection 293

The development of Darwin’s views 293

The development of Wallace’s views 296

Darwin’s On the Origin of Species 297

The reception of the Origin of Species 299

Concluding Remarks 299

30 Reflections on Evolution 300

Implications for Religion 300

Dennett, Dawkins, Weinberg, and others: “no” 301

Haught, process philosophy, and process theology 302

Discussion 305

Morality and Ethics 307

Empirical Studies 310

The iterated prisoner’s dilemma 310

The ultimatum game 313

Additional notes on cooperation and altruism 315

The trust game 316

Concluding Remarks 318

31 Worldviews: Concluding Thoughts 320

Overview 320

Reflections on Relativity Theory 322

Reflections on Quantum Theory 324

Reflections on Evolutionary Theory 325

Metaphors 326

Chapter Notes and Suggested Reading 329

References 349

Index 357