Contemporary Philosophy of Science

Topics: Philosophy of science, Scientific method, Science Pages: 5 (1627 words) Published: July 12, 2013
Book Review Title: Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues Authors: J. A. Cover and Martin Curd Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company Publication Date: March 17, 1998 Length: 1408 pages Type: Paperback, Anthology ISBN: 0393971759 Price: $49.95 Cover and Curd’s Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues is an extensive compendium, separated into 9 chapters, each chapter covering one of the following topics: the Demarcation Problem (distinguishing science from pseudo-science based on the strength of scientific theory and evidence), Values and Objectivity in Science, Under-determination and the Duhem-Quine Thesis, Induction and the Nature of Scientific Explanation, Laws of Nature, Inter-theoretic Reduction, and Scientific Realism. The 49 included readings are written by some of the most important philosophers in the field, writers of both historical/foundational, as well as contemporary interest, including Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, Carl Hempel, Imre Lakatos, Larry Laudan, Paul Feyerabend, Pierre Duhem, Willard V.O. Quine, Helen Longino, Philip Kitcher, Ernan McMullin, Bas van Fraassen, Wesley Salomon, and Ian Hacking, among others. The book is well organized. Each chapter includes a short introduction by the editors, four or five essays written by others (the Chapter on Scientific Realism, which is the largest section, contains 9 essays), and an extensive commentary, also supplied by the editors, which sets out to explain each article in the Chapter, as well as the interconnections between them. To my knowledge, there is no other anthology on the subject that provides such extensive editorial material as Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues. In addition to the Chapter Introductions and the detailed and helpful commentaries at the end of each Chapter—which range from 20 pages to more than fifty pages—the book includes a helpful twenty-page glossary of terms, and also supplies extensive bibliographies on each of the subjects covered. The comprehensive commentaries and the glossary of terms provide invaluable information to students in the field. The commentaries also provide the necessary background that the reader needs to fully appreciate the problems with which the authors of particular selections are struggling, the arguments they present in their writings, and the important ways each author works to solve the perplexing problems in the philosophy of science. Reading the included essays, in conjunction with the commentaries and other editorial materials, is like going through a wide-ranging introductory, but typical, course in the philosophy of science. The quality of their writing and explanations is top-notch, their prose style is clear, consistent, informative, and admirable in the way the two editors are able to take some of the more technical aspects in the philosophy of science and transform the information into any easily digestible form for the reader, especially students taking college courses on the topic. Students and instructors alike can benefit from this book. Despite its many benefits, however, I think the book falls short in accomplishing its main task of providing a comprehensive textbook for use in upper-level undergraduate courses in the philosophy of science. The major shortcomings of the book are its omissions of the most recent, cutting edge topics in the philosophy of science. Because of this, the book is, overall, unbalanced in its coverage of major issues and problems in the field, and therefore the anthology, despite its treatment of a wide variety of issues, is not as comprehensive as it claims in covering the “main currents in twentieth-century philosophy of science.” I will first list a number of pressing issues and topics noticeably missing in Cover and Cord’s Anthology. Then I will say a few words about each. What is not covered in the book are: feminist 1

approaches to the philosophy of science, the debate between “objectivism” versus “relativism,” “analytical” versus “continental”...
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