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Portal:Philosophy of science

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Philosophy of Science

The 'philosophy of science' is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of science, including the formal sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences. In this respect, the philosophy of science is closely related to epistemology and philosophy of language. Note that issues of scientific ethics are not usually considered to be part of the philosophy of science; they are studied in such fields as bioethics and science studies.

In particular, the philosophy of science considers the following topics: the character and the development of concepts and terms, propositions and hypotheses, arguments and conclusions as they function in science.The manner in which science explains natural phenomena and predicts natural occurrences. The types of reasoning that are used to arrive at scientific conclusions; the formulation, scope, and limits of scientific method. The means that should be used for determining when scientific information has adequate objective support, and the implications of scientific methods and models, along with the technology that arises from scientific knowledge for the larger society.

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A white swan
Two black swans
In science and the philosophy of science, falsifiability refers to the property of empirical statements that they must admit of logical counterexamples. This stands in contradistinction to formal and mathematical statements that may be tautologies, that is, universally true by dint of definitions, axioms, and proofs. Some philosophers and scientists, most notably Karl Popper, have asserted that no empirical hypothesis, proposition, or theory can be considered scientific if it does not admit the possibility of a contrary case.

For example, the proposition "all swans are white" would be falsified by observing a black swan, which would in turn depend on there being a black swan somewhere in existence. A falsifiable proposition or theory must define in some way what is, or will be, forbidden by that proposition or theory.

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Chart showing signs of the zodiac and the solar system with world at centre.
Credit: Johannes van Loon

In astronomy, the geocentric model of the universe is the theory that the Earth is at the center while the Sun, Moon, stars, and naked eye planets go around it. This model was embraced by Aristotle, Ptolemy and most Greek philosophers.


"Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed."

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Selected biography

Sir Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, KC (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman and essayist but is best known for leading the scientific revolution with his new 'observation and experimentation' theory which is the way science has been conducted ever since.

He began his professional life as a lawyer, but he has become best known as a philosophical advocate and defender of the scientific revolution. His works establish and popularize an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method. Induction implies drawing knowledge from the natural world through experimentation, observation, and testing of hypotheses. In the context of his time, such methods were connected with the occult trends of hermeticism and alchemy.

Did you know...

The EPR thought experiment, performed with electrons. A source (center) sends electrons toward two observers, Alice (left) and Bob (right), who can perform spin measurements.

  • ...that Scientism is an ideology which holds that science has primacy over other interpretations of life?



Philosophy of science

Anti-psychiatry • Determinism • Empiricism • Epistemology • Evolution • Free will • History of science • Holism • Ontology • Philosophy of biology • Philosophy of physics • Pseudoscience • Reductionism • Skepticism • Sociology of scientific knowledge • VitalismRationalismPropositionPositivismObjectivityKnowledge

Further Reading

  • Bernard H. Baumrin. 1963. Philosophy of Science, Volume 1.Publisher: Taylor & Francis, 1963
  • Alexander Rosenberg. 2000.Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction. Publisher-Psychology Press. ISBN 041515281X, 9780415152815
  • Merrilee H. Salmon. 1992. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science: A Text by the Members of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Pittsburgh. Publisher- Hackett ISBN 0872204502, 9780872204508
  • Martin Curd and Jan A. Cover. 1998. Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues. Publisher-W.W. Norton. ISBN 0393971759, 9780393971750
  • Stanley J. Tambiah. 1990. Magic, Science and Religion and the Scope of Rationality. Publisher Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521376319, 9780521376310
  • Terry F. Godlove, Jr. 1989. Religion, Interpretation and Diversity of Belief: The Framework Model from Kant to Durkheim to Davidson. Publisher -CUP Archive, 1989 ISBN 0521361796, 9780521361798
  • Gerd Buchdahl. 1969. Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science. Publisher- The MIT Press-ISBN-10-0-262-02057-2
  • Rudy Rucker. 2004. Infinity and the Mind:The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite. Publisher-Princeton University Press. ISBN: 9780691121277
  • Nancy Frankenberry, Hans H. Penner. 1999.Language, truth, and religious belief: studies in twentieth-century theory and method in religion. Publisher-Scholars Press. ISBN 0788505408, 9780788505409
  • Peter Godfrey-smith. 2003. Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science Publisher- University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226300633, 9780226300634


  • Cassandra Pinnick, George Gale. Philosophy of Science and History of Science: A Troubling Interaction. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2000), pp. 109-125
  • Watson Davis. Science, Philosophy, Religion Find Ground for Common Front. The Science News-Letter, Vol. 38, No. 12 (Sep. 21, 1940), pp. 180+188+190
  • Karola Stotz, Paul E. Griffiths. Biohumanities: Rethinking the Relationship Between Biosciences, Philosophy and History of Science, and Society. The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 83, No. 1 (March 2008), pp. 37-45
  • Massimo Pigliucci. The Borderlands Between Science And Philosophy: An Introduction. The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 83, No. 1 (March 2008), pp. 7-15


Philosophy of science: Biology • Chemistry • Information • Language • Logic • Mathematics (Education, Probability) • Mind (Artificial intelligence, Perception) • Physics (Space & time, Thermal & statistical physics) • Social sciences (Environment, Psychology) • Technology

Plato at the School of Athens

Epistemology: A priori and a posteriori • Analysis • Analytic-synthetic distinction • Belief • Causality • Coherentism • Constructivist epistemology • Contextualism • Descriptive knowledge • Determinism • Empiricism • Faith and rationality • Fallibilism • Foundationalism • Gettier problem • Holism • Infinitism • Innatism • Internalism and externalism • Knowledge • Objectivity • Positivism • Proposition • Rationalism • Reductionism • Regress argument • Reliabilism • Simplicity • Skepticism • Speculative reason • Theaetetus (dialogue) • Theory of forms • Theory of justification • Transcendental idealism • Truth • Uniformitarianism • Vienna Circle • Vitalism

Ontology: Being • Category of being • Change • Cogito ergo sum • Dualism • Embodied philosophy • Entity • Existence • Existentialism • Identity • Integrative level • Physical object • Properties • Reality • Relativism • Scientific realism • Subjectivism • Substance theory • Type theory • Universal • Unobservables

General: Anti-psychiatry • Commensurability • Demarcation problem • Evolution • Free will • History of science • Pseudoscience • Rhetoric of science • Scientific method • Scientism • Sociology of scientific knowledge

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