On trial for reason: Science, Religion, and Culture in the Galileo Affair

ISBN : 9780198797920

Maurice A. Finocchiaro
304 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2019
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In 1633 the Roman Inquisition condemned Galileo as a suspected heretic for defending the astronomical theory that the earth moves, and implicitly assuming the theological principle that Scripture is not scientific authority. This controversial event has sent ripples down the centuries, embodying the struggle between a thinker who came to be regarded as the Father of Modern Science, and an institution that is both one of the world's greatest religions and most ancient organizations. The trial has been cited both as a clear demonstration of the incompatibility between science and religion, and also a stunning exemplar of rationality, scientific method, and critical thinking.

Much has been written about Galileo's trial, but most works argue from a particular point of view - that of secular science against the Church, or justifying the religious position. Maurice Finocchiaro aims to provide a balanced historical account that draws out the cultural nuances. Unfolding the intriguing narrative of Galileo's trial, he sets it against its contemporary intellectual and philosophical background. In particular, Finocchiaro focuses on the contemporary arguments and evidence for and against the Earth's motion, which were based on astronomical observation, the physics of motion, philosophical principles about the nature of knowledge, and theological principles about the authority and the interpretation of Scripture. Following both sides of the controversy and its far-reaching philosophical impact, Finocchiaro unravels the complex relationship between science and religion, and demonstrates how Galileo came to be recognised as a model of logical reasoning.


Preface and Acknowledgments
1 Introduction: Avoiding Myths and Muddles
2 When the Earth Stood Still
3 The Copernican Controversy (1543-1609)
4 Re-assessing Copernicanism (1609-1616)
5 The Earlier Inquisition Proceedings (1615-1616)
6 The Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems (1632)
7 The Inquisition Trial (1632-1633)
8 Becoming a Cultural Icon (1616-2016)
9 Religion vs. Science?
10 A Model of Critical Thinking?
11 Some Final Thoughts
Further Reading and Cited Works

About the author: 

Maurice Finocchiaro is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., 1964) and of the University of California-Berkeley (Ph.D., 1969)
now Distinguished Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus), University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He is the recipient of awards from the National Science Foundation (1976-77 and 1998-2002), the National Endowment for the Humanities (1983-84 and 1992-95), the American Council of Learned Societies (1991-92), the Guggenheim Foundation (1998-99), and the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (2008). His books include Galileo and the Art of Reasoning (1980), Defending Copernicus and Galileo: Critical Reasoning in the Two Affairs (2010), Arguments about Arguments (2005), and Meta-argumentation (2013).

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