The Great Courses: Philosophy of Science (3 Volumes)

Kasser, Jeffrey L.

By Professor 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. Why is science so successful? Is there such a thing as the scientific method? How do we distinguish science from pseudoscience? Is 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. The philosophy of science can be abstract and theoretical, but it is also surprisingly practical. Assumptions about the nature of science affect such contemporary debates as: Which research gets funded What topics qualify as science in elementary and high school classrooms What is considered legitimate and ethical medical care What and whether treatments are reimbursed by insurance companies. Science plays a pivotal role in our society, and a rigorous study of its philosophical foundations sheds light on the ideas, methods, institutions, and habits of mind that have transformed our world.

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