The Great Courses: Philosophy of Science

Jeffrey L. Kasser

Science can't be free of philosophy any more than baseball can be free of physics. With this bold intellectual swing for the fences, philosopher Jeffrey L. Kasser uses the tools of philosophy to launch an ambitious and exciting inquiry into what makes science science. In this brilliant course you will discuss ÄWhy is science so successful? ÄIs there such a thing as the scientific method? ÄHow do we distinguish science from pseudoscience? ÄIs science rational, cumulative, and progressive? Focusing his investigation on the vigorous debate over the nature of science that unfolded during the past 100 years, Professor Kasser covers important philosophers such as Karl Popper, W. V. Quine, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos, Carl Hempel, Nelson Goodman, and Bas van Fraassen. All of these thinkers responded in one way or another to logical positivism, the dominant movement influencing the philosophy of science during the first half of the 20 th century. Logical positivism attempted to ground science exclusively in what could be known through direct experience and logic. It sounds reasonable, but logical positivism proved to be riddled with serious problems, and its eventual demise is an object lesson in how truly difficult it is perhaps impossible to secure the logical foundations of a subject that seems so unassailably logical: science.

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