Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction” as Want to Read:
Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,382 ratings  ·  205 reviews
What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scie ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 29th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,382 ratings  ·  205 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction
Ahmad Sharabiani
Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #67), Samir Okasha
How much faith should we place in what scientists tell us? Is it possible for scientific knowledge to be fully 'objective'? What, really, can be defined as science? In the second edition of this Very Short Introduction, Samir Okasha explores the main themes and theories of contemporary philosophy of science.

عنوانها: درآمدی بر فلسفه علم؛ فلسفه علم - مقدمه ای بسیار کوتاه؛ تالیف: سمیر آکاشا؛ تاریخ نخستین خو
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have a bad habit. I tend to be too lenient when it comes to rating books, I’m sort of easily molded by new ideas. I’m trying to amend this. So I’ll not be rating this a 5 star.
The term ‘Philosophy of science’ might be a bit puzzling. After all, scientists don’t bother much about philosophy and undergrads of science doesn’t have to take a course in philosophy to do well science. However, there ARE some assumptions and attitudes implicit in scientific activities which scientists don’t talk much
Mohamed al-Jamri
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I gave it five stars when I first read it three years ago. Now I'm giving it two only. This shows how much one can change.
A deserving 5!
I found this book, excellent. The author was well informed on the subject, knew the most controversial aspects and managed to put the most important ones in the book. also Pr. Okasha used different arguments in different fields of science in order to explain different facets of this amazing field. While the book was short, it was accurate, convincing, page-turner, enjoyable.
If I want to criticize this work, I would say that the post-script could have been more comprehensive, and
Yousif Al Zeera
The book was overall good (and sometimes great!). All chapters made sense to me and relate to the subject. Chapter #6 (philosophical problems relate to physics, biology and psychology) was an outlier for me and I felt most of it wasn’t necessary as it went into deep discussions around Newton and Leibniz and their theories on space and motion.

Nonetheless, the book gave a good introduction into the subject which, most importantly, let you feel more interested into the subject after going through t
Aug 07, 2017 added it
*mini review*

I've left this book unrated because I find it rather hard to rate non-fiction. This book is well-written and I imagine it would be very easy for someone with very little knowledge of philosophy to understand most of it - because of this, I found it a little basic and underwhelming. The book briefly covers a few key debates in the philosophy of science and I admire the author's ability to whittle down these lengthy and complex arguments to a couple of pages. As an overview for a non-
Nika Mansouri Ghiasi
It was a greaaaat book-suggested to me by a really good friend-It made me think about the aspects of science i hadn't thought of before-to be honest with you a book teaching you how to talk more 'gholonbe solonbe' to others!;)
Younes  Benimam
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, science
erall, I think this is a great introduction. It serves as just what it proclaims, "a very short introduction".

This book equips you with basic tools to understand better the world of ideas and reality because after all, everything we think about is based on a basic assumption about the world, be it scientific or not. I am not well versed in the field to evaluate the accuracy of the content, but what I loved the most about is how Okasha seems very objective in the presentations of the concepts. Y
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the ideal introduction for someone with little to no background regarding the philosophy of science. It is probably too simple for anyone with a bachelors degree in philosophy. Ergo, if you're a science student, who hasn't taken a philosophy course, you may like this book.

The book first sets out to show what are the primary philosophical issues regarding science. For instance, what is it that connects biology, physics, and chemistry, but not biblical studies, and witch craft. Is it metho
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
From Oxford comes another little jewel of a book, a model for the efficient use of the English language.

Samir Okasha looks at the methods of science and the ideas of critics who ask us to think a bit more carefully before we declare that what science tells us is unquestionably true and objective. The power of science is undeniable in its practicality. The theories that support our modern world of technology are based on reason, reason that suggests experiments whose results either support or und
Armin Books
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I finished reading the book about a month ago, but I’m reviewing it now. As most Oxford Short Introduction Series books go, this is an easy-to-read, concise guide to the field. Philosophy of science is a very broad subject, so inevitably some corners are cut when you have to fit everything in 144 pages.

The book has 7 chapters. The first chapter deals with the question of ‘What science is’. The author gives some illuminating examples from the history of science, mostly from physics and biology.
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A book of this size will never do justice to such an extensive subject as the philosophy of science - but what this covers, it does so extremely well, thanks largely to the author's clear writing and to a good choice of subjects.

The fundamentals of induction, explanation, realism and scientific change are all explained intelligibly, arguments are presented with corresponding counterarguments, and where necessary, topics are introduced with the right amount of background information - for exampl
Error Theorist
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic introduction to the philosophy of science. It is very brief and covers a broad range of topics (some rather superficially). So, this is definitely not a thorough introduction, but a very well written primer. This book will acquaint you with the core concepts and debates within the philosophy of science, and whet your appetite for further reading (the author provides a nice list for further reading broken down chapter by chapter). If you're already familiar with the philosophy ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction by Samir Okasha

“Philosophy of Science " is the introductory study of the scientific branch of knowledge. If you are curious about how the methods of science work at a basic level this is the book for you. Professor of Philosophy of Science, Samir Okasha embarks upon a brief tour that addresses questions concerning assumptions that scientists take for granted. This 160-page book is composed of the following seven chapters: 1. What is science?, 2. S
Per-Yngve Ingensson
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
A Very Short Introduction to the Philosophy of Science was overall really nicely put together. There is one glaring flaw though. There was no mention whatever of the frequentist / Bayesian controversy. As far as I can recall, probability was mentioned only once in connection to epistemology: rather than saying we know or don't know something for sure, which is bound up with philosophical difficulties, we can assess probabilities of it between 0 and 1 instead. I know it's a "very short introducti ...more
Cameron Jones
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author is clear in explaining philosophical problems in science starting from the general questions on the nature of scientific thought and practice to specific problems in some of the sciences. Some of the explanations of ideas could have used simpler language, but it was generally easy to follow. The range of topics dealt with is nice, but, as another reviewer said, I had a sense of uneven coverage. Successes and failures of competing ideas in the debates are explained well, though the cur ...more
یاسر میردامادی
A lucid introduction to contemporary (general and special) analytic philosophy of science. The only worry I had when reading (actually listening to) the book was that at least to a certain extent simplification of some discussions, which is pedagogically inevitable in a concise introductory work, led to oversimplification. This in some cases could mislead the reader. For example, Popper implicitly branded as a positivist in this book which is at least a very dubious (if not a completely wrong) w ...more
Christian Hanna
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was assigned for my philosophy of worldviews and science class.

I thought it was overall very good. He does not waste time covering tons of super-basic things that anyone picking up this book should already know. In fact, he does not even define certain terms, going off the assumption that readers will either know these terms or be able to quickly look them up.

This was both a pro and a con. It freed up Mr. Okasha to cover a lot of ground in just over 125 pages, delving into depths I wou
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
You might think philosophy is woo-woo, and much of it is (like Hume's assertion that there is no causality). But much of philosophy of science, actually, provides a robust justification for what we do in science, math, and statistics. Studying the philosophy of science enhances understanding of much of the methodology we use.

I originally borrowed the Great Courses class on this subject to listen to in my car. Then I ran into some concepts that took some effort to wrap my head around, which is a
Shhhhh Ahhhhh
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good book, though they could have better served the aim of informing the reader about the purpose of philosophy of science if they translated the reasons for rejecting arguments into speech more accessible to laypeople. I caught everything, but I noticed a mild cognitive delay in each instance of the discussion of the reasons for rejection of a particular hypothesis or assumption because they went straight to the jargon (which is fine if you know it, I guess).

-1 for the lack of neutrality in ha
May 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent introduction to the study of the philosophy of science, and should be read more than once. I admit that I often have to read books twice in order to really retain the information in them, and this book is no exception (in fact, I think I just finished my third reading, and I still learned from it).

The author tackles many of the key issues in the field in an easily accessible manner. In the course of doing so, he introduces the reader to many important philosophers and their
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
As the title says, a great summary of all the basic and not so basic approaches to the Philosophy of Science. I had previously read "The Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Khun, and even so this book has opened my head much more to ideas about this field of Philosophy, both general and from some specific fields such as Biology and Physics.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quality overview, and certainly serves a purpose, but for most the suggested reading will be the most valuable part of the book, and rightfully so.
Artur Lascala
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phil, science
Very good intro to Philosophy of Science!
M. Ashraf
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vsi
This is a very good book
The Philosophy of Science, it is just what I expected from the title and I enjoyed every chapter of it, unlike other books from the series where the title is promising and then the content not so much!!
Also, The book I have, got hand notes in it, seems from a student and it was insightful and really good!
The Book asks the question of What is Science ? discusses the Scientific Reasoning, Changes and Revolutions in Science, Philosophical Problems in different Scientific wo
Vlad Tanasoiu
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is a tough one to review. Although addressed to the people having no prior knowledge of the philosophy of science, I bought it with the idea of refreshing my memories, whilst wanting to read a somewhat new exegetical perspective on the texts I've read over the years.

The author, Samir Okasha, took upon himself the difficult challenge of presenting the main questions that bothered the philosophers of science for the past 200 years. The book is well-written, offering clear explanations f
Thuỳ Vân

This is a very good book if we take its title as a standard “A very short introduction”. I like the way the author introduced about the history of science, the way that arguments are made when weaknesses of a model are premises to introduce another one.

However some points I don’t really agree. For example, the author gave examples of the Hempel’s covering law model of explanation’s weakness. First example is:

General laws: Light travels in straight lines; Laws of trigonometry
Particular facts: An
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Whenever I read a news article that announces something akin to, say, neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light, I think to myself: how quick these scientists are to make such front page proclamations! (And then how quickly the refutations are conveyed, somewhere, eventually, if only on page B-22!)
Little did I know that such skepticism in science*, its process and procedure, was so well founded (and frequently agreed with)!

This brief book, in terms of quality, was pretty devoid of opinion
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
A lot of recent popular nonfiction is in desperate, desperate need of editing. By contrast, this "very short introduction" is a concise, clearly written, engaging little book that moves along briskly and is a pleasure to read. It is aimed at an audience with minimal or no background in the philosophy of science. If you have already taken a class in philosophy of science or have read extensively on the topic, you will probably find the presentation too elementary. However, if, like me, you have h ...more
Tracy E.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: brainy divas, studs, drag kings/queens
Recommended to Tracy E. by: The Great Cornholio
Found this a helpful intro that touches on various sciences and the relationship of philosophy to them with the modern need for including historical analysis. Okasha's writing is accessible enough for those at a college-reading level, though sometimes indulging in excessive statements. I appreciate his presentation of opposing views, but feel Okasha is too much in favor of one view over the other at times. I don't understand why the title is not "History and Philosophy of Science" though, since ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • What Is This Thing Called Science?
  • Logic: A Very Short Introduction
  • Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction
  • Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  • Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
  • Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics
  • Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction
  • Metaphysics: A Very Short Introduction
  • Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction
  • Marx: A Very Short Introduction
  • Philosophy of Religion: A Very Short Introduction
  • Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction
  • Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Logic of Scientific Discovery
  • Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction
  • Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction
  • Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction
See similar books…

I received my doctorate in 1998 from the University of Oxford, where I worked with Bill Newton-Smith. I then held a post-doctoral position at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), before moving to the London School of Economics as a Jacobsen Fellow. I was a Lecturer at the University of York from 2000-2002, and in 2003 moved to the University of Bristol. I was promoted to a

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
11 likes · 9 comments
“From a philosophical point of view, Leibniz's most interesting argument was that absolute space conflicted with what he called the principle of the identity of indiscernibles (PII). PII says that if two objects are indiscernible, then they are identical, i.e. they are really one and the same object. What does it mean to call two objects indiscernible? It means that no difference at all can be found between them--they have exactly the same attributes. So if PII is true, then any two genuinely distinct objects must differ in at least one of their attributes--otherwise they would be one, not two. PII is intuitively quite compelling. It certainly is not easy to find an example of two distinct objects that share all their attributes. Even two mass-produced factory goods will normally differ in innumerable ways, even if the differences cannot be detected with the naked eye.

Leibniz asks us to imagine two different universes, both containing exactly the same objects. In Universe One, each object occupies a particular location in absolute space.In Universe Two, each object has been shifted to a different location in absolute space, two miles to the east (for example). There would be no way of telling these two universes apart. For we cannot observe the position of an object in absolute space, as Newton himself admitted. All we can observe are the positions of objects relative to each other, and these would remain unchanged--for all objects are shifted by the same amount. No observations or experiments could ever reveal whether we lived in universe One or Two.”
“Simpler theories may be more convenient to work with, but they are not intrinsically more probable than complex ones.” 4 likes
More quotes…