An introduction to the philosophy of social science from a well-known author.
This is an introductory survey to the philosophy of science suitable for beginners and nonspecialists. Its point of departure is the question: why should we believe what science tells us about the world? In this attempt to justify the claims of science the book treats such topics as observation data, confirmation of theories, and the explanation of phenomena. The writing is clear and concrete with detailed examples drawn from contemporary science: solar neutrinos, the gravitational bending of light, and the creation/evolution debate, for example. What emerges is a view of science in which observation relies on theory to give it meaning and credibility, while theory relies on observation for its motivation and validation. It is shown that this reciprocal support is not circular since the theory used to support a particular observation is independent of the theory for which the observation serves as evidence.
This book explores central philosophical concepts, issues, and debates in the philosophy of science, both historical and contemporary.
Providing a comprehensive introduction to political philosophy, this 2006 book combines discussion of historical and contemporary figures, together with numerous real-life examples. It ranges over an unusually broad range of topics in the field, including the just distribution of wealth, both within countries and globally; the nature and justification of political authority; the meaning and significance of freedom; arguments for and against democratic rule; the problem of war; and the grounds for toleration in public life. It also offers an accessible, non-technical discussion of perfectionism, utilitarianism, theories of the social contract, and of recently popular forms of critical theory. Throughout, the book challenges readers to think critically about political arguments and institutions that they might otherwise take for granted. It will be a provocative text for any student of philosophy or political science.
This introduction to the philosophy of mathematics focuses on contemporary debates in an important and central area of philosophy. The reader is taken on a fascinating and entertaining journey through some intriguing mathematical and philosophical territory, including such topics as the realism/anti-realism debate in mathematics, mathematical explanation, the limits of mathematics, the significance of mathematical notation, inconsistent mathematics and the applications of mathematics. Each chapter has a number of discussion questions and recommended further reading from both the contemporary literature and older sources. Very little mathematical background is assumed and all of the mathematics encountered is clearly introduced and explained using a wide variety of examples. The book is suitable for an undergraduate course in philosophy of mathematics and, more widely, for anyone interested in philosophy and mathematics.
Now revised and updated, this introduction to decision theory is both accessible and comprehensive, covering topics including decision making under ignorance and risk, the foundations of utility theory, the debate over subjective and objective probability, Bayesianism, causal decision theory, game theory, and social choice theory. No mathematical skills are assumed, with all concepts and results explained in non-technical and intuitive as well as more formal ways. There are now over 140 exercises with solutions, along with a glossary of key terms and concepts. This second edition includes a new chapter on risk aversion as well as updated discussions of numerous central ideas, including Newcomb's problem, prisoner's dilemmas, and Arrow's impossibility theorem. The book will appeal particularly to philosophy students but also to readers in a range of disciplines, from computer science and psychology to economics and political science.
This 1989 book is intended as an introductory survey of the philosophy of the social sciences. It is essentially a work of exposition which offers a toolbox of mechanisms - nuts and bolts, cogs and wheels - that can be used to explain complex social phenomena. Within a brief compass, Jon Elster covers a vast range of topics. His point of departure is the conflict we all face between our desires and our opportunities. How can rational choice theory help us understand our motivation and behaviour? More significantly, what happens when the theory breaks down but we still cleave to a belief in the power of the rational? Elster describes the fascinating range of forms of irrationality - wishful thinking, the phenomenon of sour grapes, discounting the future in noncooperative behaviour. This is a remarkably lucid and comprehensive introduction to the social sciences for students of political science, philosophy, sociology and economics.
"Our topic here is psychology, the self-styled science of the mind. Psychology's aim is to explain mental phenomena by describing the underlying processes, systems, and mechanisms that give rise to them. These hidden causal levers underlie all of our mental feats, including our richest conscious perceptions, our most subtle chains of reasoning, and our widest-ranging plans and actions. While the phenomena of mind are intimately related to events occurring in the brain, these psychological explanations are, we will argue, distinct and autonomous from explanations in terms of neural processes and mechanisms. According to the view we present here, psychology and neuroscience are different enterprises. We certainly wouldn't claim that our ever-increasing understanding of how the brain works has nothing to say to psychology: on the contrary, they are complimentary, since neuroscience can provide invaluable input to psychological theorizing (and vice versa, a point that we think is not stressed often enough). But our task will be to give a thorough account of the scope, methods, content, and prospects for a distinctive science of our mental lives"--
What has gone wrong with economics? Economists now routinely devise highly sophisticated abstract models that score top marks for theoretical rigour but are clearly divorced from observable activities in the current economy. This creates an 'uneconomic economics', where models explain relationships in blackboard rather than real-life markets.
This revised and considerably expanded 2nd edition brings together a wide range of topics, including modal, tense, conditional, intuitionist, many-valued, paraconsistent, relevant, and fuzzy logics. Part 1, on propositional logic, is the old Introduction, but contains much new material. Part 2 is entirely new, and covers quantification and identity for all the logics in Part 1. The material is unified by the underlying theme of world semantics. All of the topics are explained clearly using devices such as tableau proofs, and their relation to current philosophical issues and debates are discussed. Students with a basic understanding of classical logic will find this book an invaluable introduction to an area that has become of central importance in both logic and philosophy. It will also interest people working in mathematics and computer science who wish to know about the area.
Critically Reading the Theory and Methods of Archaeology stands out as the most thorough and practical guide to the essential critical reading and writing skills that all students, instructors, and practitioners should have. It provides priceless insight for the here and now of the Theory and Methods of Archaeology classes and for a lifetime of reading, learning, teaching, and writing. Chapters focus on rigorous reasoning skills, types of argument, the main research orientations in archaeology, the basic procedural framework that underlies all schools of archaeology, and issues in archaeology raised by skeptical postmodernists.
"An Introduction to Rights is the only accessible and readable introduction to the history, logic, moral implications, and political tendencies of the idea of rights. It is organized chronologically and discusses important historical events such as the French Revolution. It deals with historical figures, including Grotius, Paley, Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, Burke, Godwin, Mill, and Hohfeld, and covers contemporary debates, including consequentialism versus contractualism"--Provided by publisher.
Uncertainty could be associated with wisdom, enterprise, and discovery. In ordinary speech, however, it has mostly negative connotations. There is "fear of the unknown" and "ignorance is bliss;" there are maxims to the effect that "what you don't know doesn't hurt you" (or: "bother you") in several languages. This volume suggests that we need be bothered by the excessive confidence with which scientists, particularly social scientists, present some of their conclusions and overstate their range of application. Otherwise many of the questions that should be raised about all the major uncertainties attending a particular issue routinely may continue to be thwarted or suppressed. Down playing uncertainty does not lead to more responsible or surer action, it sidetracks research agendas, and leaves the decision makers exposed to nasty surprise. This volume demonstrates that recognizing the many forms of uncertainty that enter into the development of any particular subject matter is a precondition for more responsible choice and deeper knowledge. Our purpose is to contribute to a broader appreciation of uncertainty than regularly accorded in any of the numerous disciplines represented here. The seventeenth-century French philosopher Descartes, quoted in this volume, wrote that "whoever is searching after truth must, once in his life, doubt all things; insofar as this is possible. " White areas left on maps of the world in past centuries were a much more productive challenge than marking the end of the known world with the pillars of Hercules.
This volume is a serious attempt to open up the subject of European philosophy of science to real thought, and provide the structural basis for the interdisciplinary development of its specialist fields, but also to provoke reflection on the idea of ‘European philosophy of science’. This efforts should foster a contemporaneous reflection on what might be meant by philosophy of science in Europe and European philosophy of science, and how in fact awareness of it could assist philosophers interpret and motivate their research through a stronger collective identity.The overarching aim is to set the background for a collaborative project organising, systematising, and ultimately forging an identity for, European philosophy of science by creating research structures and developing research networks across Europe to promote its development.
Foundations of Economics breathes life into the discipline by linking key economic concepts with wider debates and issues. By bringing to light delightful mind-teasers, philosophical questions and intriguing politics in mainstream economics, it promises to enliven an otherwise dry course whilst inspiring students to do well. The book covers all the main economic concepts and addresses in detail three main areas: * consumption and choice * production and markets * government and the State. Each is discussed in terms of what the conventional textbook says, how these ideas developed in historical and philosophical terms and whether or not they make sense. Assumptions about economics as a discipline are challenged, and several pertinent students' anxieties ('Should I be studying economics?') are discussed.
This book examines the nature of economic explanation. The author introduces current thinking in the philosophy of science and reviews the literature on methodology. He looks at the status of welfare economics, and also provides a series of case studies of leading economic controversies, showing how they may be illuminated by paying attention to questions of methodology. A final chapter draws the strands together and gives the author's view of what is wrong with modern economics. This book is a revised and updated edition of a classic work on the methodology of economics.
The history of design arguments stretches back to before Aquinas, who claimed that things which lack intelligence nevertheless act for an end to achieve the best result. Although science has advanced to discredit this claim, it remains true that many biological systems display remarkable adaptations of means to ends. Versions of design arguments have persisted over the centuries and have culminated in theories that propose an intelligent designer of the universe. This volume is the only comprehensive survey of 2,000 years of debate, drawing on both historical and modern literature to identify, clarify and assess critically the many forms of design argument for the existence of God. It provides a neutral, informative account of the topic from antiquity to Darwin, and includes concise primers on probability and cosmology. It will be of great value to upper-level undergraduates and graduates in philosophy of religion, theology, and philosophy of science.
An introductory 2001 textbook on probability and induction written by a foremost philosopher of science.

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