This anthology of selections from the works of noted philosophers affords the student an immediate contact with the unique historical background of the philosophy of science. The selections, many of which have not been readily accessible, follow the development of the philosophy of science from 1786 to 1927. Each selection is preceded by a brief introduction by the editor designed to familiarize the reader with a particular philosopher and provide insights into his work.
Joseph J. Kockelmans divides the selections into several sections. Part 1, from 1786-1850, includes chapters by Immanuel Kant, on the metaphysical foundations of natural science, John Frederick William Herschel, on experience and the analysis of phenomena, William Whewell, on the nature and conditions of inductive science, and John Stuart Mill, on induction and the law of universal causation; part 2, from 1870-1899, includes chapters by Hermann Von Helmholtz, on the origin and significance of geometrical axioms, William Stanley Jevons, on the philosophy of inductive inference, John Bernard Stallo, on the kinetic theory of gasses and the conditions of the validity of scientific hypotheses, Ernst Mach, on the economical nature of physical inquiry, Karl Pearson, on perceptual and conceptual space, Emile Boutroux, on mechanical laws, Heinrich Hertz, on the appropriateness, correctness, and permissibility of scientific theories, and Ludwig Boltzmann, on the fundamental principles and basic equations of mechanics.
The third part, covering the first decade of the twentieth century, includes chapters by Henri Jules Poincare, on science and reality, Charles Peirce, on Induction, Pierre Marie Duhem, on the laws of physics,William Ostwald, on energetism and mechanics, Emile Meyerson, on identity of thought and nature as the final goal of science, Ernst Cassirer, on functional concepts of natural science; part 4, from 1910-1927, includes chapters by Chades Dunbar Broad, on phenomenalism, Alfred North Whitehead, on time, space, and material, Bertrand Russell, on the world of physics and the world of sense, Norman Robert Cambbell, on the meaning of science, Moritz Schlick, on basic issues of the philosophy of natural science, and Percy Williams Bridgman, on the concepts of space, time, and causality.