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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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Syntactic-semantic trees
Philosophy of language is the branch of philosophy whose primary concerns include the natures of meaning, reference, truth, language learning, language creation, understanding, communication, interpretation, and translation.

The discipline is concerned with five central questions: How are sentences composed into a meaningful whole, and what are the meanings of the parts of sentences? What is the nature of meaning? (i.e., What exactly is a meaning?) What do we do with language? (How do we use it socially?) How does language relate to the mind, both of the speaker and the interpreter? Finally, how does language relate to the world?

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Brain in a vat
Credit: Was a bee

In philosophy, the brain in a vat is any of a variety of thought experiments intended to examine our ideas of knowledge, reality, truth, mind, and meaning. The simplest use of brain-in-a-vat scenarios is as an argument for philosophical skepticism.


"Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable."

Albert Einstein in a response to Alfred Kerr
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Selected biography

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher, often considered a pessimist. He is most famous for his work The World as Will and Representation. Schopenhauer formulated a double-aspect theory to our understanding of reality, that of the world existing simultaneously but separately as will and representation.

Schopenhauer's starting point was Kant's division of the universe into phenomenon and noumenon, claiming that the noumenon was the same as that in us which we call will. It is the inner content and the driving force of the world. For Schopenhauer, human will had ontological primacy over the intellect; in other words, desire is understood to be prior to thought, and, in a parallel sense, will is said to be prior to being. While his philosophy appeared mystical to some, his methodology was resolutely empirical, rather than speculative or transcendental.

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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