SHiPS Resource Center ||   BOOK BRIEF

reviewed 9/94 Philosophy and Sociology of Science: An Introduction, 2nd ed. Stewart Richards. Basil Blackwell (1987). ISBN 0-631-15362-4. 241 pp. $15.95.

This is an excellent introduction to contemporary Science Studies. It ranges from basic logic, how it applies in experimental settings and conceptual questions within each science, to the institutional organization of science, ethics, religion, the politics and economics of research, scientism, and sociological accounts of knowledge. The author teaches physiology and has written the book with (college) science students in mind, so the topics are presented in a context that makes sense from a scientist's perspective. A discussion of the "scientific attitude," for example, is coupled with four brief historical examples that give the list of characteristics of science some texture and reality. Other concrete examples appear occasionally--for example, war and science, the relation of science and technology in the aircraft industry, futures modeling, fraud, and the significance of a debate about botanical taxonomy. One may treasure the fact that the author does not try to argue for one dominant view of science, but rather works to make sense of the various views and how they enrich our understanding of science, its contexts and implications. The book may be well recommended to persons already inspired by a few dramatic examples, who want a fuller overview of the scope and basic ideas of Science Studies.

--Douglas Allchin

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