Metaphysics of Science : A Systematic and Historical Introduction book cover
1st Edition

Metaphysics of Science
A Systematic and Historical Introduction

ISBN 9781844655939
Published August 25, 2016 by Routledge
348 Pages

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Book Description

Metaphysics and science have a long but troubled relationship. In the twentieth century the Logical Positivists argued metaphysics was irrelevant and that philosophy should be guided by science. However, metaphysics and science attempt to answer many of the same, fundamental questions: What are laws of nature? What is causation? What are natural kinds?

In this book, Markus Schrenk examines and explains the central questions and problems in the metaphysics of science. He reviews the development of the field from the early modern period through to the latest research, systematically assessing key topics including:

  • dispositions
  • counterfactual conditionals
  • laws of nature
  • causation
  • properties
  • natural kinds
  • essence
  • necessity.

With the addition of chapter summaries and annotated further reading, Metaphysics of Science is a much-needed, clear and informative survey of this exciting area of philosophical research. It is essential reading for students and scholars of philosophy of science and metaphysics.

Table of Contents


1 Prologue: A History of Metaphysics

2 Dispositions

3 Counterfactuals

4 Laws of Nature

5 Causation

6 Dispositional Essentialism

7 Epilogue: Meta-Metaphysics


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Markus Schrenk is Professor for Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany. He is the author of The Metaphysics of Ceteris Paribus Laws (2007), co-author of Einführung in die Sprachphilosophie (2nd edition 2014), and editor of Handbuch Metaphysik (2016).


"Metaphysics of Science is an ambitious book. It brings together an engaging overview of the history of the metaphysics of science with contemporary debates in the area. Senior undergraduates and graduate students will find it a most useful tool."

- Kristie Miller, University of Sydney, Australia

"This is an excellent book, which implements a novel and deeply illuminating approach to the metaphysics of science."

- Jessica Wilson, University of Toronto, Canada

"The ongoing debate on the metaphysics of science (hereafter, MS) surely is one of the most exciting things in the philosophy arena these days. (...) Schrenk’s new book is a significant contribution in this direction. It aims to introduce the reader to key concepts of the MS, such as ‘‘dispositions, counterfactual conditionals, laws of nature, causation, properties, natural kinds, essence and necessity’’ (p. viii). Throughout it deals with an impressive range of arguments, and the author finely makes use of a vast knowledge of the literature, providing an up-todate account of some of the recent trends. (...) The community will certainly welcome Schrenk’s addition to the MS literature. The book can be recommended to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as to lecturers teaching on the subject."

- Cristian Soto, Universidad de Chile, Chile