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Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction

Samir Okasha

Publication Date - August 2002

ISBN: 9780192802835

160 pages

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $11.95

A concise overview of the fundamental issues in the philosophy of science


What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science.

Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scientific explanation, revolutions in science, and theories such as realism and anti-realism. He also looks at philosophical issues in particular sciences, including the problem of classification in biology, and the nature of space and time in physics. The final chapter touches on the conflicts between science and religion, and explores whether science is ultimately a good thing.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.


  • Provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science
  • Written in a jargon-free style
  • Discusses the controversial 'science wars'
  • Includes any examples from social and natural sciences

About the Author(s)

Samir Okasha is currently Lecturer in Philosophy, University of York. He has published numerous articles in philosophy journals, in the areas of philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and epistemology. He has previously held a Jacobean Fellowship in Philosophy at University of London and has taught at the University of Mexico.


"Very helpful.... Okasha presents the issues and arguments with delightful clarity."--Philosophia Christi

Table of Contents

    1. What is science?
    A very short history of science
    Does science have an essential nature?
    Science and pseudo-science
    2. Scientific reasoning
    Induction and deduction
    Hume's problem
    Two types of inductive reasoning
    Probability and induction
    3. Explanation in science
    The 'covering-law' model of explanation
    Alternative models of explanation
    Can science explain everything?
    4. Realism and anti-realism about science
    Scientific realism
    Objections to scientific realism
    Varieties of anti-realism
    5. Scientific change and scientific revolutions
    Explaining scientific change
    Thomas Kuhn on 'normal' and 'revolutionary' science
    Sociological accounts of scientific change
    6. Philosophical problems in physics, biology and linguistics
    Leibniz versus Newton on absolute space
    The problem of biological classification
    Is knowledge of language innate
    7. Science and its critics
    Is science a good thing?
    Science and religion
    The science wars