Free Philosophy of Science E-Books

Besides their truly amazing and extraordinary philosophy of science preprint server

it seems that the University of Pittsburgh Press has made e-book versions of their out-of-print titles available for free online reading. There are 35 titles in the 'philosophy' category, most of them philosophy of science titles.

Some examples:

Scientific Models in Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation

The Limits of Science

The Nature and Function of Scientific Theories

Concepts, Theories and Rationality in the Biological Sciences

And a classic title: Four Decades of Scientific Explanation
Like the "two-page" view option. Unlike Google Books, doesn't seem to be the selective and constantly mutable omission of pages (at least, going by the one example below).

The Cosmos of Science - Essays of explanation ... edited by John Earman & John D. Norton

Preface excerpt: ... In his "Experiment, Community, and the Constitution of Nature in the Seventeenth Century," Daniel Garber shows that much still remains to be understood about the historical development of that most common of notions in scientific discourse, objectivity. He finds in the early Royal Society a powerfully social dimension to facthood. Before an experimental outcome can enter into the register of attested facts, the experiment must be performed before competent witnesses. Garber argues that this social dimension of facthood is an innovation of the Royal Society and is not to be found in the methodological writings of the immediate predecessors of the Royal Society. These figures include René Descartes and, remarkably, Francis Bacon, whose vision of the practice of science was supposedly realized by the Royal Society.

Where Garber examines the emergence of social aspects of objectivity in seventeenth-century English science, William Harper, in "Isaac Newton on Empirical Success and Scientific Method," explains how, at the same time and place, a new and more rigorous standard of empirical success was being developed by Newton for the theory of a lone scholar within his research on gravitational physics. Newton required that the phenomena not merely be saved by his theory—this being the standard required in modern hypothetico-deductive confirmation. Rather he required that the theory's core parameters be deducible from the phenomena within the framework of the theory. This higher standard was painstakingly implemented in Newton's work on gravitation, as Harper shows in a series of detailed examples. Empirical success of this type results in a theory so solidly grounded in phenomena that Harper is able to use its solidity to deflect the skepticism of the Duhem-Quine thesis and of Kuhnian incommensurability. Harper's final irony is that this same standard of empirical success is now routinely exploited in work in relativitic physics that has decisively overturned Newton's theory.

Don Howard's "A Peek Behind the Veil of Maya: Einstein, Schopenhauer, and the Historical Background of the Conception of Space as a Ground for the Individuation of Physical Systems" begins with an innocent question. There is ample evidence that Einstein read Schopenhauer; what did Einstein find in Schopenhauer's writings that so attracted him? This question begins a fascinating journey which ends with the revelation that much of the modern discussion has missed the point of the classical debates over space and time. The point was identified lucidly by Schopenhauer who characterized space as a principle of individuation—that which would allow two things to be distinct individuals, even though they agree in all properties excepting their spatial positions. Whether such a function for space is legitimate lay at the heart of the famous Newton-Leibniz debate and became the focus of a tradition of analysis that was carried on by Kant, especially in his analysis of "incongruent counterparts," and by Schopenhauer. Howard portrays Einstein's deepest reservations about quantum theory as lying within this tradition and as deriving from an insistence that we preserve space as a principle of individuation. This was the real point of the celebrated but readily misunderstood Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paper. The quantum theory, understood as a complete theory, requires that two systems, spacelike separated in spacetime, may nonetheless fail to be individuated by this separation into two distinct systems —a failure so fundamental that it leaves unclear just what are the systems that physics is supposed to describe.


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