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Scientific Thinking 

Scientific Thinking

Written by: Robert M. Martin

Publication Date: January 01, 1997
333pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551111308 / 1551111306

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Scientific Thinking is a practical guide to inductive reasoning - the sort of reasoning that is commonly used in scientific activity, whether such activity is performed by a scientist, a political pollster, or any one of us informally on a day-to-day basis. The book provides comprehensive coverage in twenty-three chapters divided into three parts: "Induction, Proportions and Correlations," "Explanations," and "Cause."

Martin's text is wide-ranging but it is also concise and extremely accessible. Indeed, the book confounds those who would think that a discussion of such topics must be dry-as-dust. Martin begins with an account of Galileo making a telescope for himself and discovering the moons of Jupiter, and subsequent topics include "Bathtubs and Dreams," "Correlations between Snoring and Obesity" and "The Grue Emerald." If this text makes clear that the topic need not be at all boring, it also underlines the real importance of acquiring an understanding of habits of scientific thinking. Many of the examples are given an extended discussion, and many are descriptions of real-life cases of research into both the pure sciences and the social sciences. Also included is an extremely wide range of stimulating questions and exercises.


"an excellent introduction...  renders a number of complex and difficult topics very accessible.... Martin has done an excellent job." - Teaching Philosophy

"Scientific Thinking is admirably clear and linear. It takes the student from the elementary position of undirected observation through problems in sampling to issues in explanation, causation and classification. The book's informal language helps to make it easy to understand such things as the need for and practical difficulties involved with random sampling.... Scientific and historical examples are presented in an especially illuminating way." - Carl Matheson, University of Manitoba

Robert M. Martin is a professor in the Philosophy Department at Dalhousie University; his other books include The Meaning of Language (MIT Press), The Philosopher's Dictionary 3/e (Broadview, 2002) and There Are Two Errors in the the Title of This Book (updated and revised third edition) (Broadview, 2011).

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Table of Contents: [Back to Top]

     Chapter 0: Not Your Usual Introduction

PART I: Induction, Proportions, Correlations
     Chapter 1: Galileo and Mrs. Smith
     Chapter 2: Induction, Deduction, Confirmation
     Chapter 3: Sampling
     Chapter 4: Samples
     Chapter 5: Imprecision and Confidence Level
     Chapter 6: Statistical Relations
     Chapter 7: Correlations Described
     Chapter 8: Correlations Calculated

PART II: Explanations
     Chapter 9: Explanations Explained
     Chapter 10: Problems with D-N Model
     Chapter 11: Hypotheses and Explanations
     Chapter 12: Two Strategies for Hypothesizing
     Chapter 13: Disconfirming Hypotheses
     Chapter 14: Empiricism Revisited
     Chapter 15: Categories
     Chapter 16: Kinds and Laws

     Chapter 17: Seeing Causes
     Chapter 18: Causal Relations
     Chapter 19: Causal Complications
     Chapter 20: Experimental Confirmation
     Chapter 21: Experimental Procedures
     Chapter 22: Non-Experimental Methods
     Chapter 23: The Truth


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Scientific Thinking

1997 • 333pp • Paperback • 9781551111308 / 1551111306

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.