What is Scientific Knowledge?: An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology of Science, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

What is Scientific Knowledge?

An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology of Science, 1st Edition

Edited by Kevin McCain, Kostas Kampourakis


304 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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What is Scientific Knowledge? is a much-needed collection of introductory-level chapters on the epistemology of science.  Renowned historians, philosophers, science educators, and cognitive scientists have authored 19 original contributions specifically for this volume. The chapters, accessible for students in both philosophy and the sciences, serve as helpful introductions to the primary debates surrounding scientific knowledge.First-year undergraduates can readily understand the variety of discussions in the volume, and yet advanced students and scholars will encounter chapters rich enough to engage their many interests. The variety and coverage in this volume make it the perfect choice for the primary text in courses on scientific knowledge. It can also be used as a supplemental book in classes in epistemology, philosophy of science, and other, related areas.

Key Features:

* Is an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the epistemology of science for a wide variety of students (both undergraduate- and graduate-level) and researchers

* Written by an international team of senior researchers and the most promising junior scholars

* Addresses several questions that students and lay people interested in science may already have, including questions about how scientific knowledge is gained, its nature, and the challenges it faces

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors ix


Part I: How is scientific knowledge generated?

1 How many scientists does it take to have knowledge?

Jeroen de Ridder

2 What attitude should scientists have? Good academic practice a precondition for the production of knowledge

Thomas Reydon

3 How do medical researchers make causal inferences?

Olaf Dammann, Ted Poston, and Paul Thagard

4 How do explanations lead to scientific knowledge?

Kevin McCain

5 What is scientific understanding and how can it be achieved?

Henk W. de Regt and Christoph Baumberger

Part II: What is the nature of scientific knowledge?

6 What are scientific concepts?

Theodore Arabatzis

7 How can we tell science from pseudoscience?

Stephen Law

8 How do we know that 2+2=4?

Carrie Jenkins

9 Is scientific knowledge special? Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Richard Fumerton

10 Can scientific knowledge by measured by numbers?

Hanne Andersen

Part III: Does bias affect our access to scientific knowledge?

11 Why do logically incompatible beliefs seem psychologically compatible? Science, pseudoscience, religion, and superstition

Andrew Shtulman and Andrew Young

12 Do our intuitions mislead us? The role of human bias in scientific inquiry

Susan A. Gelman and Kristan A. Marchak

13 Can scientific knowledge sift the wheat from the tares? A brief history of bias (and fears about bias) in science

Erik L. Peterson

14 What grounds do we have for the validity of scientific findings? The new worries about science

Janet Kourany

15 Is science really value free and objective? From objectivity to scientific integrity

Matthew J. Brown

Part IV: Is scientific knowledge limited?

16 Should we trust what our scientific theories say?

Dana Tulodziecki and Martin Curd

17 What are the limits of scientific explanation?

Sara Gottlieb and Tania Lombrozo

18 Should we accept scientism? The argument from self-referential incoherence

Rik Peels

19 How are the uncertainties in scientific knowledge represented in the public sphere? The genetics of intelligence as a case study

Kostas Kampourakis




About the Editors

Kevin McCain is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His published research includes Evidentialism and Epistemic Justification (2014), The Nature of Scientific Knowledge: An Explanatory Approach (2016), and, with Kostas Kampourakis, Uncertainty: How It Makes Science Advance (2019).

Kostas Kampourakis is a researcher in science education and a lecturer at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. His most recent authored books are, Making Sense of Genes (2017), Turning Points: How Critical Events Have Driven Human Evolution, Life and Development (2018), and, with Kevin McCain, Uncertainty: How It Makes Science Advance (2019). He has also co-edited with Michael Reiss, Teaching Biology in Schools: Global Research, Issues and Trends (2018).

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