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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: 978-1-119-11899-2

Apr 2018, Wiley-Blackwell

384 pages




"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 



Part I: Fundamental Issues  1

1 Worldviews 

2 Truth 

3 Empirical Facts and Philosophical/Conceptual Facts 

4 Confirming and Disconfirming Evidence and Reasoning 

5 The Quine–Duhem Thesis and Implications for Scientific Method 

6 A Philosophical Interlude: Problems and Puzzles of Induction 

7 Falsifiability 

8 Instrumentalism and Realism 

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

9  The Structure of the Universe on the Aristotelian Worldview 

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

11 Astronomical Data: The Empirical Facts 

12 Astronomical Data: The Philosophical/Conceptual Facts 

13 The Ptolemaic System 

14 The Copernican System 

15 The Tychonic System 

16 Kepler’s System 

17 Galileo and the Evidence from the Telescope 

18 A Summary of Problems Facing the Aristotelian Worldview 

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

20 Overview of the New Science and the Newtonian Worldview 

21 Philosophical Interlude: What Is a Scientific Law? 

22 The Development of the Newtonian Worldview, 1700–1900 

Part III: Recent Developments in Science and Worldviews 

23 The Special Theory of Relativity 

24 The General Theory of Relativity 

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

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

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

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

29 Overview of the Theory of Evolution 

30 Reflections on Evolution 

31 Worldviews: Concluding Thoughts 

Chapter Notes and Suggested Reading