G. Toraldo di Francia
Originally published in Italian in 1976, this book describes the methods scientists use to investigate the physical world. It is ideal for students and teachers of science and the philosophy of science. It is both a high-level popularization and a critical appraisal of these methods, describing important advances in physics and analyzing the historical development, value, reliability and philosophical implications of the way physicists approach the problems confronting them. The introductory chapter on the meaning of physical theories and the mathematical tools used to develop them is followed by a general discussion on the foundations of physics under four major headings: the physics of the reversible, the physics of the irreversible, microphysics, and cosmology. Throughout, the subject matter of physical theories is linked to discussion of the attendant philosophical and epistemological implications, such as the validity of the theories, inductive inference, causal explanation, probability, the role of observation and the reality of physical objects.