Philosophy of science

In the field of philosophy there are many sciences or branches that have been in charge of carrying out studies, analysis and research on scientific knowledge. One of these branches is known by the name of philosophy of science which seeks to understand how different scientific theories can be developed , evaluated and changed .

What is the philosophy of science?

The philosophy of science is a branch that belongs to the field of philosophy which is responsible for carrying out different investigations related to knowledge and scientific practice to find the true meaning of the processes that occur in nature .

  • History
  • Characteristics of the philosophy of science
  • Fundamentals
  • Questions answered by the philosophy of science
  • Currents
  • How it differs from epistemology
  • Featured Authors
  • Books
  • Importance of the philosophy of science
  • Examples


The history of the philosophy of science finds its roots in the field of philosophy itself and was born as a totally autonomous form of discipline during the 19th century, although its exact date is unknown. It came to be called by this name during the formation of the Vienna Circle and at that time, science underwent a major transformation thanks to some inventions such as the theory of relativity .

Part of the history of the philosophy of science is based on empiricism , positivism and logic , currents that were in charge of founding science based on observation and that opted for a more systematic reduction of knowledge of the human being to reach more logical and scientific foundations.

Characteristics of the philosophy of science

Among its main features are the following:

  • It is seen as a way of explaining the way an investigation can be conducted.
  • His field of research is limited to the problems that are posed by scientific knowledge .
  • Its main object of study is the different philosophical problems that are also established by science in general .
  • It raises a series of questions such as what is science? What are its objectives? And what is the way to interpret the results that science throws up.
  • Its main function is based on trying to distinguish what is science from what is not.


Its main foundation is based on the question related to what science is . This is the main objective and foundation of the philosophy of science with the sole objective of being able to accurately explain everything related to the physical world. The second important foundation is related to the concept , with the law finally, with the theory .

Questions answered by the philosophy of science

There are several questions that the philosophy of science tries to answer, many may have existed even before this type of philosophy existed but they managed to come to light when Western philosophy developed , specifically after the Scientific Revolution . Some of these questions are as follows:

  • What is science?
  • Can science lead to certainty?
  • How can you make a distinction between true science and non-science or pseudoscience?
  • What is the nature of the concepts, statements, and all conclusions of a scientific nature?
  • Is the growth of science cumulative or revolutionary?
  • If there is a new theory of science, could it be said that in some sense science progresses or only changes? And if it makes progress, what is the way to determine and define it?
  • What means must be used to determine the acceptability, validity or truth of the claims that are made by science?
  • What are the possible repercussions that different scientific models and methods can have on society, including science?


Some of the currents or concepts that are related to the philosophy of science are the following:

  • Epistemology : studies knowledge and the way in which some things can be accepted as truths.
  • Empiricism : they are a group of philosophical approaches that serve to build knowledge through observable evidence.
  • Induction : a method of reasoning that argues that the generalization is true.
  • Deduction : it is the means by which a logical conclusion can be reached taking into account the premises.
  • Forgery : says that evidence can only be used to discard ideas and not to support them.
  • The razor of Parsimony : it is an idea that establishes that since things are the same, a simpler type of explanation must always be sought instead of a complex one.
  • Ethics : science that is responsible for the study of the good and the value of shares.
  • Aesthetics : science that studies everything that is related to beauty and art.

How it differs from epistemology

The main difference is that epistemology is etymologically speaking, the study of knowledge or science . The term follows two types of traditions that can be understood differently. Epistemology is seen as a type of philosophical discipline that studies reflection on knowledge in a very general way . The philosophy of science is the one that is in charge of studying the knowledge of science but in a very specific way. For this reason, the word philosophy of science is used to refer to a branch of philosophy whose main objective is to study it.

Featured Authors

The main authors or representatives of the philosophy of science were:

  • Plato : established within philosophy the theory of ideas where he gave great importance to the material world, the world that could not be touched or was unattainable.
  • Socrates : he was based on clear concepts that included knowing himself, maieutics and his phrase “ I only know that I know nothing .”
  • Aristotle : participated actively through the use of the inductive method that included concepts, ideas and judgments and through the deductive method in which the importance of experience, intellect, imagination and the structure of thought was established.


Some of the most recognized books that explain and comment on the philosophy of science are, for example:

  • Why the World Doesn’t Exist by Markus Gabriel.
  • Defending science from within Susan Haack.
  • Our daily knowledge of Ramón Lapiedra.
  • The philosophy of science of Joseph Luis Prades.
  • History and Philosophy of Science by LWH Hull.
  • Philosophy of Science (An Illustrated Guide) by Ziauddin Sardar and Borin Van Loon.

Importance of the philosophy of science

Its importance lies in the need to establish all the aspects considered fundamental in order to properly structure scientific phenomena . Through the philosophy of science, an accurate study and investigation can be carried out as it applies true scientific knowledge in addition to scientific practice in order to investigate and understand the way in which theories are developed, evaluated and can be changed. scientific . It is important because through it the true meaning of all those things that cannot be observed can be revealed.


Some examples of the philosophy of science are:

  • Sociology of science
  • Structuralist and semantic concepts
  • Scientific research programs

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