Understanding Inconsistent Science (Hardback)
  • Understanding Inconsistent Science (Hardback)
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Understanding Inconsistent Science (Hardback)

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£65.00
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 22/08/2013
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In recent years philosophers of science have urged that many scientific theories are extremely useful and successful despite being internally inconsistent. Via an investigation of eight alleged 'inconsistent theories' in the history of science, Peter Vickers urges that this view is at best overly simplistic. Most of these cases can only be described as examples of 'inconsistent science' if we employ reconstructions of science which depart from the real (history of) science to an unacceptable degree. And where we do find genuine inconsistency he argues that the nature of-and correct response to-the inconsistency differs dramatically depending on the details of the science in question. Thus we are warned against making overly general claims about 'science': what are all called 'theories' in the history of science are actually significantly different entities, which work in different ways and react to inconsistency in different ways. Vickers argues that the traditional goal of philosophy to make substantial, fully general claims about 'how science works' is misguided, and can be significantly circumvented if we re-frame our debates such that reference to 'theories' is eliminated. In this way one is not tempted to think of the history of science as a history of instances of the same kind-theory-about which one could hope to say something substantial and general. And in addition eliminating theory means that we avoid fruitless debates about the 'real' nature and content of 'theories'. Vickers' account leads to a particularist philosophy of science, where the reader is urged to appreciate the often dramatic differences between the different 'inconsistencies in science' which have been identified.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199692026
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 574 g
Dimensions: 238 x 177 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
[T]he book is a remarkable achievement both in its breadth and in its depth. Vickers offers by some margin the most comprehensive and detailed discussion of inconsistency in physics of which I am aware ... [T]his is an important book. * Mathias Frisch, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science *
I strongly encourage and see great potential for this work and, given the high standards of his current publications, we can all look forward to seeing what Vickers and his colleagues come up with next. * Mark P. Newman, Metascience *
[H]is case studies provide good material for beginning to evaluate his theory eliminativism, which I find the most interesting theme in the book. It is worth emphasizing that the book is very clearly written and easy to read, without too much unnecessary formalism or jargon. I expect that anyone interested in the philosophy of science would profit from reading it. * Dr Yanja Yudell, The Philosophical Quarterly *
Vickers' book is a paradigm of philosophical engagement with issues that are, or ought to be, of real concern to working scientists and to scientically engaged laypersons. * Prof. Hans Halvorson, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science *
Given the historical rigour with which his case studies are examined, as well as the methodological novelty of his approach, Vickers's work is certain to trigger a number of debates in the philosophical community, starting from those on historical details of the presented episodes, to discussions on formal logic and its application to scientific reasoning. For these reasons alone it is safe to say that Vickers's book is from now on a necessary reference for any scholar of these problem fields. Moreover, given the complexity of the topic and its relevance for other philosophical disciplines, the book is a highly welcome contribution not only to the literature on inconsistencies in science, but to logic, epistemology and methodology of science in general * International Studies in the Philosophy of Science *
Understanding Inconsistent Science is a necessary inquiry into allegedly inconsistent science, which Vickers has executed with care and caution, and which has earned him the honourable title: Slayer of the iMongers * F.A Muller, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics *
The method is original and convincing, and the case studies well researched and compelling ... overall then, this is a very creative text, and useful for both those directly interested in the inconsistency debates and also those looking for a novel approach to solving other problems in philosophy of science * Mark Newman, Metascience *
The cases themselves are fascinating, and Vickers's treatment is systematic, detailed, and rigorous ... Understanding Inconsistent Science [is] a book that I warmly recommend * Thomas Nickles, Mind *
Vickers's book provides a much-needed organization and clarification of the issues at hand-what we mean by claiming a scientific theory to be contradictory, and which sorts of cases and examples best illustrate these issues-and is an important prolegomenon to any future work in this area. * Paul Dicken, Australasian Journal of Philosophy *
Peter Vickers's monograph stands out as a very serious piece of scholarship in historically- and scientifically-informed philosophy of science. It is to be strongly recommended to both philosophers (of science) and reflectively inclined scientists, especially physicists and mathematicians. * Sorin Bangu, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews *
Vicker's treatment of the examples is detailed and well-referenced, while also being admirably accessible, even for an audience that lacks a full grasp of the science and mathematics involved ... the book makes a substantial contribution to the literature: gathering these eight examples together in a well-referenced discussion provides an excellent starting point for anyone interested in thinking about inconsistency in science. * Bryson Brown, Journal for General Philosophy of Science *

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