Richard Feynman supposedly said that philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. What a worrying stance! In my opinion reading philosophy makes you a better scientist, for instance because it makes you think more critically and see things from another perspective. For that reason I summarized some important works in philosophy of science and philosophy of statistics that might be worth reading. The list is a nice starter for everyone interested.

Introductory texts on Philosophy of Science

  • Francis Bacon, The New Organon (1620)
  • Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method (1637)
  • David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748)
  • Immanuel Kant, Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment? (1784)
  • Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1934)
  • Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)
  • Paul Feyerabend, Against Method (1975)

Introductory texts on Philosophy of Statistics

  • Bradley Efron, Why Isn’t Everyone a Bayesian? (1986, including comments)
  • Robert Abelson, Statistics as a Principled Argument (1995)
  • Gerd Gigerenzer, Mindless statistics (2004)
  • Deborah Mayo, Methodology in practice: Statistical misspecification testing (2004)
  • Judea Pearl, Causality (2009)
  • Andrew Gelman, Induction and deduction in Bayesian Data Analysis (2011)
  • Andrew Gelman and Cosma R. Shalizi, Philosophy and the practice of Bayesian statistics (2012)
  • Gerd Gigerenzer, Surrogate Science: The Idol of a Universal Method for Scientific Inference (2015)
  • Philip Stark and Andrea Saltelli, Cargo-cult statistics and scientific crisis (2018)


  • Aristotle, Organon (specifically Prior and Posterior Analytics)
  • John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic (1843)
  • Max Horkheimer, Traditional and Critical Theory (1937)
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1953)
  • Ronald A. Fisher, Statistical Methods and Scientific Induction (1955)
  • Richard C. Jeffrey, Valuation and Acceptance of Scientific Hypotheses (1956)
  • Rudolf Carnap, The Logical Structure of the World (1967)
  • Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society (1975)
  • Peter Medawar, Is the scientific paper a fraud (1963/1996)
  • Deborah Mayo, Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge (1996)
  • Deborah Mayo, Statistical Inference as Severe Testing (2018)