Book Review: The Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction

The book reviewed here is ‘The Philosophy of Science’ by Samir Okasha and narrated by Peter Ganim. Ganim’s narration gives a strong impression of authority being low pitched with clear articulation.

In the first part of the book Okasha looks at Aristotle and his philosophy and its relation to science. He remarks on how some of the assumptions he made would look very unrealistic to us today. He moves onto discuss Karl Popper and his influential view of falsifiability. He notes Popper’s comparison of psychoanalytic theory with marxism and einstein’s theory of relativity. He notes that Popper was impressed with the kinds of predictions that Einstein was able to make. However he goes onto note that there have been theories which have been through some rough times and the proponents have stood by the theories and gone on to show the validity of such theories. Thus a lack of falsification of a theory isn’t necessarily a strength. Popper’s attacks on psychoanalytic theory are discussed. However Freud wrote many books and papers on psychoanalytic theory. He had some very clear ideas on the stages of development but he also identified other phenomenon such as the defence mechanisms as well as the nature of dream material. I would argue that just because the theory has a wide domain and wasn’t explicitly characterised for testability, the concepts contained therein are not invalidated. It is an easy approach to dismiss the theory but altogether more difficult to make a close study and aim towards a refinement. Indeed contemporary research in the area of psychoanalytic theory is doing just that. Perhaps philosophy is more useful in articulating those parts of the theory which should be tested or amended rather than testing their validity which is the role of science.

Okasha then introduces the listener to Hempel’s covering law simplifying it as an explanation of science where valid explanations can be predictions and vice verasa. However Okasha shows this to be incorect with an easily understandable example. He shows that such a law would in practice would be asymmetric rather than symmetric as predicted by Hempel. He goes onto address some of the general flaws in the argument and suggests that the law should be relevant to the phenomenon in question as well as the need for a causal chain. However even here he points out the difficulties with cause and effect invoking the arguments of David Hume a staunch empiricist. Okasha also discusses the debate between the realists and the antirealists. The antirealists believe that science can only draw conclusion about that which is observable. Okasha takes some time to detail the arguments and counterarguments. He seems to come down in favour of the realists or at least I found the arguments in favour of the realists more convincing. One particularly strong argument is that even if things are observable it doesnt mean that they are observed.

Okasha then looks at Kuhn’s ideas from ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ and details Kuhn’s suggestion that different theories are incommensurable. He also notes Kuhn’s suggestion that perception is altered by the assumptions in a theory. This Kuhn argues causes the scientists to perceive differently (presumably at a top level of perceptual processing). However Okasha challenges this notion by highlighting other arguments that have taken place in this area. Thus Einstein and Newton’s theories require only a partial translation. Okasha also tells the listener that Kuhn suggested that paradigm shifts occurred because there were particularly forceful proponents of a model who were instrumental in their popularisation. Kuhn was apparently criticised in that he was describing a ‘psychology of crowds’. Okasha explains that Kuhn was trying to address the assumptions of the remove the logical positivists who viewed science as rational, progressive and objective. He suggests that Kuhn wanted to use a more relaxied understanding of what a rational approach is. The relationship between science and philosophy is discussed later in the book and Oshama Okasha highlights the debate about the appropriateness of the methods of the natural sciences to social science. Oshama Okasha also discusses the debate between evolutionists and creationists. Sociobiological theories are examined in detail to illustrate the nature of this debate.

Having no training in philosophy, I found Okasha’s book provided a useful overview of some of the debates occurring in the philosophy of science and gives pointers to further reading on the basis of the philosophers discussed here.


Samir Okasha. The Philosophy of Science: A  Very Short Introduction (Unabridged). Audible Inc. Narrator Peter Ganim.


You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link


You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast).

TAWOP Channel

You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link


If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail


The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


  1. What youre saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thi, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I also love the images you put in here. They fit so well with what youre trying to say. Im sure youll reach so many people with what youve got to say.


  2. I am quite new to the internet and needed to research this subject. Thought it was a great post very well written and helpful. I will surely be coming back to your blog to read more articles as i really enjoyed this one..


  3. Aw, this was a really top quality post. In theory I’d like to write just like this too – taking time and also real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and certainly not seem to get something done.


  4. Hey there, great report, a colleague from the fashion marketplace linked me to your web page. I’m a visiting tutor at Goldsmiths University, London, and am to the editorial board of an on the net forum for business experts. You gave me some fantastic tips for my own internet site.


  5. Man I love your comment and it was so fabulous and I am gonna bookmark it. I Have to say the Indepth analysis this article has is trully remarkable.Who goes that extra mile these days? Well Done 🙂 Just one more suggestion you shouldget a Translator Application for your Global Audience …


  6. Man I love this post and it was so good and I am gonna bookmark it. I Have to say the Indepth analysis you have done is greatly remarkable.Who goes that extra mile these days? Bravo. Just another tip you shouldinstall a Translator for your Global Readers !


  7. Hello – I must say, I’m impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and information was very easy to access. I found what I wanted in no time at all. Pretty awesome. Would appreciate it if you add forums or something, it would be a perfect way for your clients to interact. Great job


  8. A fantastic blog post, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on that. And he in fact purchased me dinner because I found it for him… smile.. So let me rephrase that: Thankx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!


  9. It never ceases to amaze me that with a bit of extra hunting online, you can stumble uponsome of the most absorbing blogs. It’s annoying that more websites like this aren’t ranked at the top in the SERPs. I have a friend that will appreciate this page so I’ll send him a link to your post. I operate a small US company that makes a line of inspirational political gifts that commemorate the great leaders, speeches and events of US politics. One could say I focus in political gifts as my handle would suggest. I’m waiting for the US economy to get rolling again so I hope you’ll allow me including my url in this post. I should also add that I am the sort who still believes America keeps getting better and better in spite of our present difficulties. Thanks again the enlightening blog!


  10. Hi I just dropped by and wanted to say you to have a Merry Christmas. Let all your wishes make come true for you and your family and lets hope the next year be prosperous for all us.Merry Christmas


  11. i have begun to visit this site a couple of times now and i have to say that i find it quite good actually. it’ll be nice to read more in the future! 😉


  12. You’re blogging has really come on when I look back over previous posts. Actually I arrived here from a forum on an unrelated topic. Worth surfing sometimes. Thanks.


  13. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.


  14. The crux of your writing while appearing reasonable in the beginning, did not really work very well with me personally after some time. Someplace within the paragraphs you managed to make me a believer unfortunately just for a short while. I nevertheless have got a problem with your leaps in logic and you would do well to help fill in those breaks. If you actually can accomplish that, I would definitely be impressed.


  15. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome site!


  16. That is these kinds of a great resource that you’re providing and you also give it away without cost. I really like seeing internet sites that fully grasp the worth of providing a excellent resource for free. It?s the old what goes all around comes about schedule.


  17. Incredible! Your site has a lot comment posts. How did you get all of these people to look at your site I’m envious! I’m still studying all about blogs on the net. I’m going to view pages on your blog to get a better understanding how to attract more people. Thank you!


  18. Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks


  19. Sylvia 22 minutes ago I checked out his Twitter page, and I can’t even read it. I’m not totally sure the guy was even speaking English. And that’s a good thing as MArt


  20. I have not checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s