Friday, January 22, 2010

canonical texts post-1980 in philosophy of science and/or HPS?

Chris Smeenk (UWO) asks, "what do you take to be the canonical texts post-1980 in philosophy of science and/or HPS? By canonical I mean the kind of texts that should be required readings for graduate students entering the field." I like this question because it forces us to think about the Post-Kuhnian (etc) area.

Luckily, my working library is being moved to Ghent, so I had to respond without looking at the books I own.

I decided to focus on books (so this leaves out David Malament's, Howard Stein's and George Smith's articles--all personal favorites). I limit myself to one per author. (I also excluded philosophy of mind!) Maybe somebody else can start an articles section?

General Philosophy of Science (unranked!):
1. Nancy Cartwright, "How the Laws of Physics Lie"
2. William Wimsatt, "Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality"
3. Tim Maudlin The Metaphysics within Phyisics
4. Ian Hacking, Representing and Intervening
5. James Woodward, Making Things Happen
6. Morgan/Morrison, Models as Mediators
7. Stathos Psillos, Scientific Realism
8. Peter Lipton, Inference to the Best Explanation
9. Eliot Sober, Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology
10. Helen Longino Science as Social Knowledge.

HPS (unranked):
1. Michael Friedman, Kant and the Exact Sciences
2. Gary Hatfield, The Natural and the Normative
3. James Lennox, Aristotle's Philosophy of Biology
4. I.B. Cohen & G.E. Smith The Cambridge Companion to newton
5. Jed Buchwald, The rise of the Wave-Theory of Light
6. Peter Gallison How Experiments End.
7. Dan Garber, Descartes Metaphysical Physics
8. George Reisch, How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy
9. Ian Mueller, Philosophy of Mathematics and Deductive Structure in Euclid
10. Alan Richardson, Carnap's Construction of the World

I am painfully aware I excluded a lot of people I admire...

25 comments:

  1. More canonical required books for new graduate students:

    - Bas van Fraassen, The Scientific Image
    - John Earman, Primer on Determinism
    - SGS, Causation, Prediction & Search

    Specialists will of course have further required readings. For philosophy of physics, I'd say the clear classics include:

    - John Earman, World Enough + Bangs Crunches
    - David Malament, "Classical GR" monograph
    - Michael Redhead, IN&R
    - Bas van Fraassen, QM An Empiricist View
    - John Bell, Speakable & Unspeakable
    - Jeff Barrett, QM of minds & worlds
    - Tim Maudlin, QN&R
    - David Albert, Time & Chance + QM & Experience
    - RIG Hughes, Structure & Interpretation of QM

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  2. Yeah, van Fraassen should definitely be included! (Just slipped my mind!)
    I wasn't sure what Earman to include so ended up not including any.

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  3. One more:

    Wesley Salmon, Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.

    And a question. There are works by general philosophers that have been enormously influential in philosophy of science. One example:

    David Armstrong, What is a Law of Nature?

    Would that count?

    Finally: should the anthology by Elliott Sober really count? And as GENERAL philosophy of science?

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  4. I did debate if I should include David Lewis (and Armstrong). Lewis certainly did do a lot of influential work after 1980. I deliberately decided against it because I think that material will get covered in other 'core' graduate courses.

    Salmon is an obvious choice (and is within the cut-off point!), but Woodward contains considerable discussion of it (so I feel less guilty about my omission).

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  5. What great choices, Eric!

    In HPS I'd add Shapin and Schaffer Leviathan and the Air-pump.

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  6. What about Ph. Kitcher 'The advancement of science'?

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  7. Jesús, I think (the best) Kitcher articles (e.g., the Naturalists Returns or the pieces on unification) are better than the books.

    Anna...how could I forget Leviathan and the Air-pump? [Much of my recent work is meant as an alternative!] What to say...I have to admit that the HPS list above is slanted away from sociology of knowledge or even history of science; it's much more about philosophical history of science. But that's partly because I really doubt HPS (as a *shared enterprise* among historians, philosophers, and sociologists/anthropoligists, etc) is still alive outside, perhaps, Indiana. (A real HPS list probably also ought to include Latour, some Barnes, Bloor, Ted Porter, etc.)

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  8. I think that John Dupré should be on the list.

    Nancy Cartwright's work took a turn after "How the Laws of Physics Lie" -- I might pick "Dappled World" instead.

    Philip Kitcher's work also took a turn after "Advancement of Science" -- is "Science, Truth, and Democracy" too recent to put on the list?

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  9. Patrick Suppes, Representation and Invariance of Scientific Structures

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  10. Jeff, there is a lot to be said for replacing Morgan/Morrison in my list with Suppes (and we can also discuss citation practices in models literature). But doesn't that work really date from the sixties? If so, it causes some problems with cut-off.
    P.D. I hear you, but I doubt these works are canonical.
    Finally, Mohan, I included the Sober anthology because a) I thought Wimsatt may be a bit ideosyncratic and the volume gives the kind of introduction appropiate to grad students, b) it has been reprinted; c) i couldn't make up my mind if any of his monographs are canonical.

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  11. Eric, you are of course correct that much of the material in RISS appears in papers from the 60s, as well as an earlier book from that period, but RISS is such a fine book that I was hoping to sneak it onto your list since it did come out in 2002! ;)

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  12. Okay, I played around with scholar.google a bit and found empirical evidence for the canonical status of most of the suggested works (alas not RISS, Jeff). (Maudlin and Wimsatt have not been out very long, so that skews the results a bit.) I decided that one needed 400 citations to count as canonical. (Leviathan and the Airpump has around 1500 hits.)

    (Still unranked, but with scholar.google citations)
    1. Nancy Cartwright, "How the Laws of Physics Lie" (1746; cf. Dappled world 454)
    2. Ian Hacking, Representing and Intervening (740)
    3. James Woodward, Making Things Happen (507)
    4. Stathis Psillos, Scientific Realism (402)
    5. Peter Lipton, Inference to the Best Explanation (650)
    6. Helen Longino Science as Social Knowledge (680)
    7. Bas van Fraassen, The Scientific Image 2492
    8. John Earman, Primer on Determinism (417)
    9. SGS, Causation, Prediction & Search (2417)
    10. Wesley Salmon, Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World (1223)
    11. Kitcher 'The advancement of science'? (578; "Science, Truth, and Democracy (416)
    12. John Dupre The Disorder of Things (480)
    ------------------------------------------
    13. David Armstrong, What is a Law of Nature? (567)
    -----------------------------------------------
    14. Eliott Sober, Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology (201)
    15. Patrick Suppes, Representation and Invariance of Scientific Structures (97)
    16. William Wimsatt, "Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited (62)
    17. Tim Maudlin The Metaphysics within Phyisics (35)
    18. Morgan/Morrison, Models as Mediators (166; 233)

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  13. Causation, Prediction & Search is off the charts by the way (it has been cited by more than 2000 works).

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  14. HPS (unranked):
    1. Michael Friedman, Kant and the Exact Sciences (251; Reconsidering Logical Positivism 251)
    2. Gary Hatfield, The Natural and the Normative (86)
    3. James Lennox, Aristotle's Philosophy of Biology (26)
    4. I.B. Cohen & G.E. Smith The Cambridge Companion to Newton (36)
    5. Jed Buchwald, The rise of the Wave-Theory of Light (53; the book on Hertz gets
    54!)
    6. Peter Galison How Experiments End (610; Image and Logic over 700—How many
    people really read all of it?)
    7. Dan Garber, Descartes Metaphysical Physics (152)
    8. George Reisch, How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy (54)
    9. Ian Mueller, Philosophy of Mathematics and Deductive Structure in Euclid (92)
    10. Alan Richardson, Carnap's Construction of the World (92)
    11. Leviathan and the Airpump (1500)
    12. Bruno Latour Science in Action (4167!; Laboratory Life 4158)
    13. Bloor, Knowledge and Social Imagery (2404; Bloor/Barnes/Henry, Scientific Knowledge 478--Not bad for a Newton scholar!)

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  15. Of course, the third edition of Feyerabend's Against Method might count...(4531)

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  16. How about "Explaining Science" by Giere (1293 citations)?

    --Martin

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  17. There is a lot to be said for inclusion of Giere, especially because the current list is a bit short on naturalistic explanations of science (does Alvin Goldman belong in a core philosophy of science canon?).

    Mayo's Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge also has over 400 hits (462).

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  18. Besides the Mayo book, in confirmation, there is also

    Scientific Reasoning: The Bayesian approach (over 1123 citations)by Howson and Urbach

    Richard Royall's Statistical Evidence: a likelihood paradigm (453)

    And Forster and Sober's classic "how to tell when simpler, more unified and less ad hoc theories will be more predictively accurate (its only an article, but with 216 citations).

    Also, I agree with Mohan that the inclusion of the Sober conceptual issues anthology is doubly odd (is it general phil science? and its an anthology of papers, not a book).

    Why not Sober's The Nature of Selection, which as far as I can tell, contains at least as much general philosophy of science as the Sober anthology (and as much general philosophy of science as some of the other books on your list such as Wimsatt or Maudlin) and it has over a 1,000 citations (if you add up the citations of the two editions).

    Of course, one might argue it is dated - perhaps Sober's new book (Evidence and Evolution) - a similar blend of general philosophy of science and phil bio - is a better suggestion. The first chapter is an excellent introduction to the three or so major approaches to confirmation theory.. But I digress.

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  19. Chris, I agree I goofed on Sober.

    I worry a bit about the citations on books on Bayesianism and statistics--how much of that comes from 'general' philosophy, and how much of that from very specialized literatures (some of which well outside philosophy--I also worry about this on SGS, Causation, Prediction & Search)?

    The nice thing, of course, is that everybody can teach their own canon!

    Incidentally, somebody should start the articles version of this!

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  20. Just a small point on needing x citations to count as canonical.

    First, surely x should be a function of time since publication?

    Second, I also worry that going over a reasonably high limit isn't sufficient. Take _Realism and the Aim of Science_ as a case in point. Is it really canonical? In the same way that Armstrong's book is, for instance? I have my doubts! In short, I suspect it's also relevant how narrowly focused a book is... (E.g. compare the probability of writing on laws without referencing Armstrong's book to the probability of writing on scientific method or realism without referencing P's aforementioned one.)

    This said, the list seems fair enough!

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  21. P.S. Just thought of a great book, one of my favourites in fact, that isn't on the list:

    Larry Laudan's _Science and Values_

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  22. I agree that the google.scholar index isn't a sufficient condition. And I like your example.

    Science and Values certainly deserves to be included in the HPS list (and with 264 citations would also top the rankings). Laudan is a bit of a blind spot for me, and I am glad you correct that mistake. Would you also claim it belongs in the general philosophy of science list? (I could see the argument.)

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  23. If we're talking "books every philosopher of science should have" then the Curd & Cover "Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues" should be on the list. I guess since a lot of the articles are pre-1980, it doesn't count. And maybe because it's an anthology it is ruled out again, but still...

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  24. - StevenShapin, Social History of Truth,
    - Peter Dear, Discipline and Experience
    - Peter Galison and Lorraine Daston, Objectivity
    - Bruno Latour, Science in Action

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