ISBN 0-8126-9603-4$46.95 paper
Why Science Needs Metaphysics
A Plea for Structural Realism
This new book by Elie Zahar puts rational metaphysics back at the heart of the scientific enterprise. Zahar shows that the metaphysical doctrine of Structural Realism is central to the progress of science and consequently the positivist separation of philosophy and science is untenable. Against Reichenbach and Popper, Zahar argues that the 'context of discovery' not only can be rationally reconstructed, but positively demands such a rational reconstruction. The last two chapters are case studies—of classical atomism and of Einstein's scientific achievement—demonstrating the vital role of metaphysics in the growth of knowledge.
Errata sheet for Why Science Needs Metaphysics PDF, 245 KB
"When it comes to the philosophy of science, Elie Zahar has it all. He is steeped in the history of the subject, he is technically proficient in logic and physics, and he is a central contributor to the program of structural realism, one of the most exciting areas of current research. His writing is clear, sharp, and creative. Why Science Needs Metaphysics is a master class in the philosophy of science."
—Peter Lipton, author of Inference to the Best Explanation
"Elie Zahar's defense of structural scientific realism is grounded in his deep knowledge of central issues in the philosophy of science. Why Science Needs Metaphysics includes a rigorous discussion of many important issues in the epistemology of science, and is essential reading for anyone interested in scientific realism. It is also valuable for anyone who wants to be informed about general philosophy of science and its recent history."
—James Ladyman, author of Understanding Philosophy of Science
"In this detailed and provocative study, Zahar draws on his particular understanding of science, logic, and metaphysics, developed over many years, to address a range of issues in the philosophy of science, including the problem of induction and the methodology of research programs. Why Science Needs Metaphysics concludes with a thought-provoking analysis of the role of realist considerations in Einstein's thought and presents a powerful defense of structural realism."
—Steven French, co-author (with Décio Krause) of Identity in Physics
Elie Zahar is Reader Emeritus in Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics and Research Scholar at Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is the author of Einstein's Revolution: A Study in Heuristic (1989), Leçons d'épistémologie (1997) and Poincaré's Philosophy: From Conventionalism to Phenomenology (2001). He co-edited (with John Worrall) Imre Lakatos's Proofs and Refutations (1976).