The Meaning of Science: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

Tim Lewens. Basic, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-465-09748-7
Lewens (Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges), a philosopher of science at Cambridge University, asks “a series of questions about the broad significance of scientific work” in this accessible and engaging introductory volume. The book’s first half deals with the nature of science: “how science works,” why and under what conditions it might make sense to trust the findings of science, and how one might differentiate science from nonscience. Lewens explores the ideas of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, bringing clarity to the work of both, and uses the examples of economics, homeopathy, and intelligent design to seek the point of demarcation between scientific and nonscientific ideas. He concludes with the somewhat unsettling position that there is no single characteristic that will permit the two to be distinguished. In the book’s second half, Lewens examines a range of current controversies in an attempt to demonstrate how science confronts complex ideas and is unable to disentangle itself from deep philosophical issues. Lewens concludes by placing science in a broader human context: “Although science tells us much that is important, there is no chance that it will ever tell us all that we need to know if we are to understand our world, to live well, and to make wise decisions.” (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 01/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-14-197742-3
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