Scientific Thinking
  • Publication Date: March 31, 1997
  • ISBN: 9781551111308 / 1551111306
  • 346 pages; 6½" x 9"

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Scientific Thinking

  • Publication Date: March 31, 1997
  • ISBN: 9781551111308 / 1551111306
  • 346 pages; 6½" x 9"

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 reporter, a political pollster, or any one of us in day-to-day life. The book provides comprehensive coverage of such topics as confirmation, sampling, correlations, causality, hypotheses, and experimental methods. Martin’s writing confounds those who would think that such topics must be dry-as-dust, presenting ideas in a lively and engaging tone and incorporating amusing examples throughout. This book underlines the importance of acquiring good habits of scientific thinking, and helps to instill those habits in the reader. Stimulating questions and exercises are included in each chapter.


“Robert Martin’s book is an excellent introduction to scientific thinking, and in that respect, to the philosophy of science … [it] renders a number of complex and difficult topics very accessible.” — Rich Hughen, 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

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

Part III: Cause

    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


Robert M. Martin is Professor of Philosophy (retired), Dalhousie University. His other books include
The Philosopher’s Dictionary and There Are Two Errors in the the Title of This Book – Revised and Expanded (Again).

The instructor site includes sample test questions. An access code to the website is included with all new copies.