Philosophy of Science Anthologies

There are a lot of Philosophy of Science anthologies out there. Quite a few of them are the same or very similar – they all have the classic papers and excerpts plus some additional papers that the editors select (based on their own interests) – and its hard to know which ones to choose.

I’ve looked through quite a few, and have chosen three that I think are especially good and have all the necessary classic papers along with some excellent additional ones:

  • The Philosophy of Science, edited by Richard Boyd, Philip Gasper, and J.D. Trout. This is the without a doubt the absolute best philosophy of science anthology you can buy.  It’s the only one I’ve found that has all the important papers that are necessary reading on the interpretation of scientific theories (see Part 1: Confirmation, Semantics, and the Interpretation of Scientific Theories), including Putnam’s “The ‘Corroboration’ of Theories”, Carnap’s “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology”, and van Fraassen’s “To Save the Phenomena” (among many others). It could have a few more papers on reductionism, but the really solid collection of papers on the philosophy of physics makes up for it, and it’s the only anthology out there that actually has decent papers on phil physics in it. This is by far the first book I’d recommend to anyone who wanted a good phil science anthology.
  • Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy), edited by Yuri Balashov and Alex Rosenberg. I really love this one – it’s an awesome supplement to Boyd, Gasper, and Trout, because there isn’t that must overlap between them. It may even be as good or better than BGT, depending on your interests. It’s a lot more general than BGT, and Part V: Testing and Confirmation of Theories has some excellent and necessary papers that, in my opinion, everyone should read, including Achinstein’s “The Grue Paradox”.
  • Philosophy of Science: An Anthology, edited by Marc Lange. This one has almost no overlap with Balashov and Rosenberg and BGT, and the papers in Part 2 (The Logical Foundations of Belief Revision) and Part 3 (The Criteria of Theory Choice) have some papers that aren’t in other collections out there, and I think that they would be missed out on by those trying to familiarize themselves with phil science if they weren’t in this collection, like Kitcher’s “Darwin’s Achievement”, Elliot Sober’s “Let’s Razor Occam’s Razor”, Glymour’s “Explanations, Tests, Unity, and Necessity”, and Goodman’s “A New Riddle of Induction”. I love also love that this collection has a paper on structural realism, a topic I am especially fond of: Worrall’s “Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?” – the paper that started the debate about structural realism. For those who are fond of metaphysics, there are three (or four, depending on what you count as metaphysics) sections that contain all the interesting and necessary papers on natural kinds, laws of nature, causality, and metaphysical implications of physics. Definitely worth buying, in addition to the two listed above.

These three are absolutely worth looking through, and I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone wanting to familiarize themselves with the necessary phil science literature. However, since these are just short papers and excerpts, they leave out some of the best phil science work, namely the classic phil science books. I’ll make a list later of those as well for whoever is interested.

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4 comments

  1. […] Philosophy of Science Anthologies (fledglingphysicist.com) […]

  2. Calvin Palmer · · Reply

    Please count me as one who will be interested in a list you make of the classic philosophy of science books, Susan.

    1. Hi Calvin! Awesome – thank you! I’ll write one up soon!

      1. Calvin Palmer · ·

        I look forward to it.

        Based on your recommendation here, I just purchased Marc Lange’s “Philosophy of Science” (http://amzn.to/1d4am6E), and in the course of searching for it, I found and also purchased what (to me) seems even more interesting: Lange’s 2002 title “An Introduction to The Philosophy of Physics: Locality, Fields, Energy, and Mass” (http://amzn.to/1kr15bA), though it’s of course a topically different book.

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