CAHSS Faculty Articles

Review of Keith Parsons’ Copernican Questions: A Concise Invitation to the Philosophy of Science. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pp. 192

Publication Title

Florida Philosophical Review



Publication Date

Summer 2006



Introductory texts in the philosophy of science usually provide a general account of the traditional problems that constitute the core of the discipline: the distinction between science and pseudoscience, the degree of objective reasoning in science, the problems of induction and underdetermination, the concept of explanation, and the realism-antirealism debate. Parsons’ book is not a typical introduction to the philosophy of science. Parsons describes his book as an ‘invitation’ to the philosophy of science. As Parsons explains in the preface for instructors, his goal is to introduce students to only two of the core issues in the philosophy of science: the question of objectivity and the realism-antirealism debate. According to Parsons, the choice of these topics was guided, unabashedly, by the desire to stimulate interest in the philosophy of science through controversy. Given the recent history of these debates in academic and non-academic arenas, the topics are well chosen. Students who find these two issues interesting might be inclined to explore other traditional problems in the philosophy of science – thus, the use of ‘invitation’ rather than ‘introduction’. Parsons acknowledges that he intends to defend both the rationality of science and a qualified realist position. His advocacy for these views is designed to dovetail with the strategy of sparking interest through controversy.





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