Introduction Explication in Philosophy of Science (Theo Kuipers) Laws, Theories, and Research Programs (Theo Kuipers) Past and Contemporary Perspectives on Explanation Varieties of explanation (Stathis Psillos) Evaluation of Theories (Ilkka Niiniluoto) The Role of Experiments in the Natural Sciences: Examples from Physics and Biology (Allan Franklin) The Role of Experiments in the Social Sciences: The Case of Economics (Wenceslao J. Gonzalez) Ontological, Epistemological, and Methodological Positions (James Ladyman) Reduction, Integration, and the Unity of Science: Natural, Behavioral, and Social Sciences and the Humanities (William Bechtel and Andrew Hamilton) Logical, Historical, and Computational Approaches (Atocha Aliseda and Donald Gillies) Demarcating Science from Non-science (Martin Mahner) History of the Philosophy of Science (Friedrich Stadler)
Scientists use concepts and principles that are partly specific for their subject matter, but they also share part of them with colleagues working in different fields. Compare the biological notion of a 'natural kind' with the general notion of 'confirmation' of a hypothesis by certain evidence. Or compare the physical principle of the 'conservation of energy' and the general principle of 'the unity of science'. Scientists agree that all such notions and principles aren't as crystal clear as one might wish.
An important task of the philosophy of the special sciences, such as philosophy of physics, of biology and of economics, to mention only a few of the many flourishing examples, is the clarification of such subject specific concepts and principles. Similarly, an important task of 'general' philosophy of science is the clarification of concepts like 'confirmation' and principles like 'the unity of science'. It is evident that clarfication of concepts and principles only makes sense if one tries to do justice, as much as possible, to the actual use of these notions by scientists, without however following this use slavishly. That is, occasionally a philosopher may have good reasons for suggesting to scientists that they should deviate from a standard use. Frequently, this amounts to a plea for differentiation in order to stop debates at cross-purposes due to the conflation of different meanings.
While the special volumes of the series of Handbooks of the Philosophy of Science address topics relative to a specific discipline, this general volume deals with focal issues of a general nature.
After an editorial introduction about the dominant method of clarifying concepts and principles in philosophy of science, called explication, the first five chapters deal with the following subjects. Laws, theories, and research programs as units of empirical knowledge (Theo Kuipers), various past and
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University of Gronigen, Netherlands
Dov M. Gabbay is Augustus De Morgan Professor Emeritus of Logic at the Group of Logic, Language and Computation, Department of Computer Science, King's College London. He has authored over four hundred and fifty research papers and over thirty research monographs. He is editor of several international Journals, and many reference works and Handbooks of Logic.
King's College London, UK
University of Waterloo, Canada
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada