Nominees and winner in 2015 · 2013 · 2010

2011 Winner

Isaac Newton on Mathematicala
certainty and Method

by

Niccolò Guicciardini

Guicciardini reconstructs Newton's own method by extracting it from his concrete practice and not solely by examining his broader statements about such matters. He examines the full range of Newton's works, from his early treatises on series and fluxions to the late writings, which were produced in direct opposition to Leibniz. The complex interactions between Newton's understanding of method and his mathematical work then reveal themselves through Guicciardini's careful analysis of selected examples. Isaac Newton on Mathematical Certainty and Method uncovers what mathematics was for Newton, and what being a mathematician meant to him.

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Nominees — 2011 Edition

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C

Cover Nersessian

Creating Scientific Concepts

Nancy J. Nersessian

How do novel scientific concepts arise? In Creating Scientific Concepts, Nancy Nersessian seeks to answer this central but virtually unasked question in the problem of conceptual change. She argues that the popular image of novel concepts and profound insight bursting forth in a blinding flash of inspiration is mistaken. Instead, novel concepts are shown to arise out of the interplay of three factors: an attempt to solve specific problems; the use of conceptual, analytical, and material resources provided by the cognitive-social-cultural context of the problem; and dynamic processes of reasoning that extend ordinary cognition.

Focusing on the third factor, Nersessian draws on cognitive science research and historical accounts of scientific practices to show how scientific and ordinary cognition lie on a continuum, and how problem-solving practices in one illuminate practices in the other. Her investigations of scientific practices show conceptual change as deriving from the use of analogies, imagistic representations, and thought experiments, integrated with experimental investigations and mathematical analyses. She presents a view of constructed models as hybrid objects, serving as intermediaries between targets and analogical sources in bootstrapping processes. Extending these results, she argues that these complex cognitive operations and structures are not mere aids to discovery, but that together they constitute a powerful form of reasoning — model-based reasoning — that generates novelty. This new approach to mental modeling and analogy, together with Nersessian's cognitive-historical approach, makes Creating Scientific Concepts equally valuable to cognitive science and philosophy of science.

The MIT Press
ISBN 978-0-262-14105-5
272 pages · November 2008

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D

[Cover] In Defence of Objective Bayesianism

In Defence of Objective Bayesianism

Jon Williamson

How strongly should you believe the various propositions that you can express? That is the key question facing Bayesian epistemology. Subjective Bayesians hold that it is largely (though not entirely) up to the agent as to which degrees of belief to adopt. Objective Bayesians, on the other hand, maintain that appropriate degrees of belief are largely (though not entirely) determined by the agent's evidence.

Objective Bayesianism has been challenged on a number of different fronts. For example, some claim it is poorly motivated, or fails to handle qualitative evidence, or yields counter-intuitive degrees of belief after updating, or suffers from a failure to learn from experience. It has also been accused of being computationally intractable, susceptible to paradox, language dependent, and of not being objective enough.

[...] the book argues that these criticisms can be met and that objective Bayesianism is a promising theory with an exciting agenda for further research.

Oxford University Press
ISBN 978-0-19-922800-3
192 pages · May 2010

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E

[Cover] Evidence and Evolution

Evidence and Evolution

Elliot Sober

How should the concept of evidence be understood? And how does the concept of evidence apply to the controversy about creationism as well as to work in evolutionary biology about natural selection and common ancestry? In this rich and wide-ranging book, Elliott Sober investigates general questions about probability and evidence and shows how the answers he develops to those questions apply to the specifics of evolutionary biology. Drawing on a set of fascinating examples, he analyzes whether claims about intelligent design are untestable; whether they are discredited by the fact that many adaptations are imperfect; how evidence bears on whether present species trace back to common ancestors; how hypotheses about natural selection can be tested, and many other issues. His book will interest all readers who want to understand philosophical questions about evidence and evolution, as they arise both in Darwin's work and in contemporary biological research.

Cambridge University Press
ISBN 978-0521692748 ·
412 pages April 2008

F

[Cover] Filosofia Sintetica de las matematicas contemporaneas

Filosofia Sintetica de las matematicas contemporaneas

Fernando Zalamea

Available soon.

Universidad Nacional de Colombia
ISBN 978-0-262-01317-8
2009

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I

[Cover] Isaac Newton on Mathematical certainty and Method

Isaac Newton on Mathematical certainty and Method

Niccolò Guicciardini

Guicciardini reconstructs Newton's own method by extracting it from his concrete practice and not solely by examining his broader statements about such matters. He examines the full range of Newton's works, from his early treatises on series and fluxions to the late writings, which were produced in direct opposition to Leibniz. The complex interactions between Newton's understanding of method and his mathematical work then reveal themselves through Guicciardini's careful analysis of selected examples. Isaac Newton on Mathematical Certainty and Method uncovers what mathematics was for Newton, and what being a mathematician meant to him.

The MIT Press
ISBN-10:0-262-01317-7
448 páginas · Junho 2009

K

[Cover] Knowing the Structure of Nature

Knowing the Structure of Nature. Essays on Realism and Explanation

Stathis Psillos

In Knowing the Structure of Nature, Stathis Psillos develops the articulation and defence of scientific realism that started in his very influential, widely read and discussed Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth. Psillos argues in favour of the epistemic optimism associated with scientific realism. He criticises attempts to draw a sharp epistemic dichotomy between those aspects of nature that are knowable and those that will remain secret—attempts to set limits to the scientific knowledge of nature. The book focuses on recent arguments and views in the scientific realism debate and repositions this debate within broader metaphysical and epistemological perspectives. It takes issue with key elements of the structuralist turn in the philosophy of science and advances a new framework for inference to the best explanation. Professional philosophers of science, graduate students and anyone interested in scientific realism and inference to the best explanation will find this book rewarding, stimulating and provocative.

Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN 978-0230007116
256 pages · May 2009

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P

[Cover] The Philosophy of Information

The Philosophy of Information

Luciano Floridi

Luciano Floridi presents a book that will set the agenda for the philosophy of information. PI is the philosophical field concerned with (1) the critical investigation of the conceptual nature and basic principles of information, including its dynamics, utilisation, and sciences, and (2) the elaboration and application of information-theoretic and computational methodologies to philosophical problems. This book lays down, for the first time, the conceptual foundations for this new area of research. It does so systematically, by pursuing three goals. Its metatheoretical goal is to describe what the philosophy of information is, its problems, approaches, and methods. Its introductory goal is to help the reader to gain a better grasp of the complex and multifarious nature of the various concepts and phenomena related to information. Its analytic goal is to answer several key theoretical questions of great philosophical interest, arising from the investigation of semantic information.

University of Oxford
ISBN 978-0-19-923238-3
432 pages · 2011

R

[Cover] Reexamining the Quantum-Classical Relation

Reexamining the Quantum-Classical Relation

Alisa Bokulich

Classical mechanics and quantum mechanics are two of the most successful scientific theories ever discovered, and yet how they can describe the same world is far from clear: one theory is deterministic, the other indeterministic; one theory describes a world in which chaos is pervasive, the other a world in which chaos is absent. Focusing on the exciting field of 'quantum chaos', this book reveals that there is a subtle and complex relation between classical and quantum mechanics. It challenges the received view that classical and quantum mechanics are incommensurable, and revives another, largely forgotten tradition due to Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac. By artfully weaving together considerations from the history of science, philosophy of science, and contemporary physics, this book offers a new way of thinking about intertheory relations and scientific explanation. It will be of particular interest to historians and philosophers of science, philosophically-inclined physicists, and interested non-specialists.

Cambridge University Press
ISBN 9780521857208
208 pages · October 2008

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S

[Cover] Scientific and the Quest for Meaning

Scientific and the Quest for Meaning

Alfred I. Tauber

In this deeply thoughtful exploration, Alfred Tauber, a practicing scientist and highly regarded philosopher, eloquently traces the history of the philosophy of science, seeking in the end to place science within the humanistic context from which it originated. Avoiding the dogmatism that has defined both extremes in the recent “Science Wars” and presenting a conception of reason that lifts the discussion out of the interminable debates about objectivity and neutrality, Tauber offers a way of understanding science as an evolving relationship between facts and the values that govern their discovery and applications. This timely philosophy of science presents a centrist but highly consequently view, wherein “truth” and “objectivity” can function as working ideals and serve as pragmatic tools within the sociological context in which they reside. For if the humanization of science is to reach completion, it must reveal not only the meaning it receives from its social and cultural settings but also that which it lends to them.

Packed with well-chosen case studies, Science and the Quest for Meaning is a trust-worthy and engaging introduction to the history of, and the current debate surrounding, the philosophy of science.

Baylor University Press
ISBN 9781602582101
256 pages · September 2009

[Cover] Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective

Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective

Bas C. van Fraassen

Bas C. van Fraassen presents an original exploration of how we represent the world. Science represents natural phenomena by means of theories, as well as in many concrete ways by such means as pictures, graphs, table-top models, and computer simulations. Scientific Representation begins with an inquiry into the nature of representation in general, drawing on such diverse sources as Plato's dialogues, the development of perspectival drawing in the Renaissance, and the geometric styles of modelling in modern physics. Starting with Mach's and Poincaré's analyses of measurement and the 'problem of coordination', van Fraassen then presents a view of measurement outcomes as representations. With respect to the theories of contemporary science he defends an empiricist structuralist version of the 'picture theory' of science, through an inquiry into the paradoxes that came to light in twentieth-century philosophies of science. Van Fraassen concludes with an analysis of the complex relationship between appearance and reality in the scientific world-picture.

Oxford University Press
978-0-19-927822-0
416 pages · August 2008

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[Cover] The Scientist's Atom and Philoshopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy failed to gain Knowledge of Atoms

The Scientist's Atom and Philoshopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy failed to gain Knowledge of Atoms

Alan Chalmers

Drawing on the results of his own scholarly research as well as that of others the author offers, for the first time, a comprehensive and documented history of theories of the atom from Democritus to the twentieth century. This is not history for its own sake. By critically reflecting on the various versions of atomic theories of the past the author is able to grapple with the question of what sets scientific knowledge apart from other kinds of knowledge, philosophical knowledge in particular. He thereby engages historically with issues concerning the nature and status of scientific knowledge that were dealt with in a more abstract way in his What Is This Thing Called Science?, a book that has been a standard text in philosophy of science for three decades and which is available in nineteen languages. Speculations about the fundamental structure of matter from Democritus to the seventeenth-century mechanical philosophers and beyond are construed as categorically distinct from atomic theories amenable to experimental investigation and support and as contributing little to the latter from a historical point of view. The thesis will provoke historians and philosophers of science alike and will require a revision of a range of standard views in the history of science and philosophy. The book is key reading for students and scholars in History and Philosophy of Science and will be instructive for and provide a challenge to philosophers, historians and scientists more generally.

Springer
ISBN 978-90-481-2361-2
288 pages · 2009