Human beings have the unique ability to consciously reflect on the nature of the self. But reflection has its costs. We can ask what the self is, but as David Hume pointed out, the self, once reflected upon, may be nowhere to be found. The favored view is that we are material beings living in the material world. But if so, a host of destabilizing questions surface. If persons are just a sophisticated sort of animal, then what sense is there (...) to the idea that we are free agents who control our own destinies? What makes the life of any animal, even one as sophisticated as Homo sapiens, worth anything? What place is there in a material world for God? And if there is no place for a God, then what hold can morality possibly have on us--why isn't everything allowed? Flanagan's collection of essays takes on these questions and more. He continues the old philosophical project of reconciling a scientific view of ourselves with a view of ourselves as agents of free will and meaning-makers. But to this project he brings the latest insights of neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychiatry, exploring topics such as whether the conscious mind can be explained scientifically, whether dreams are self-expressive or just noise, the moral socialization of children, and the nature of psychological phenomena such as multiple personality disorder and false memory syndrome. What emerges from these explorations is a liberating vision which can make sense of the self, agency, character transformation, and the value and worth of human life. Flanagan concludes that nothing about a scientific view of persons must lead to nihilism. (shrink)
Visionary quests to return to the Garden of Eden have shaped Western culture from Columbus' voyages to today's tropical island retreats. Few narratives are so powerful - and, as Carolyn Merchant shows, so misguided and destructive - as the dream of recapturing a lost paradise. A sweeping account of these quixotic endeavors by one of America's leading environmentalists, Reinventing Eden traces the idea of rebuilding the primeval garden from its origins to its latest incarnations in shopping malls, theme parks and (...) gated communities. With eloquence and insight, Merchant shows how the drive to conquer nature and to explore and settle the globe, springs from this utopian pastoral impulse throughout Western history. Time and again, human manipulation of the environment is our downfall: Eden is achieved by fencing off pristine beauty in national parks and wildlife preserves, while leaving the majority of the earth in ruins. Challenging both narratives, Merchant argues that the green veneer of city-park conservation has become a cover for the corruption of the earth and the neglect of its environment. Reinventing Eden is a bold new way to think about the earth that includes green political parties, sustainable development and a partnership between humans and earth that is nothing short of an ecological revolution. (shrink)
This book addresses the importance of space and time, of existence unperceived, of publicity and action, and of natural laws. These are examined in a single argument which extends from Chapter Three to Chapter Seven and in the course of which the essential features of any comprehensible world are either assumed or derived. In Chapter Two, before this argument begins, the book introduces and argues for the methods by which this general argument is developed. In Chapter One, the book attempts (...) to show why it is important to consider the essential features of any comprehensible world. This chapter forms a prolegomenon to the inquiry. The argument in it is of a somewhat more impressionistic nature than the argument later in the inquiry; and so it is probably important to point out that the conclusions reached in the inquiry itself are practically independent of the argument of the first chapter. Those that are totally unconvinced by it may still be persuaded by the general argument which follows. (shrink)
Feminisms and the Self is both a critique and a construction of feminist philosophy, bringing an original contribution to the current debate surrounding identity and subjectivity. This title available in eBook format. Click here for more information . Visit our eBookstore at: www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk.
This bold and original work of philosophy presents an exciting new picture of concrete reality. Peter Unger provocatively breaks with what he terms the conservatism of present-day philosophy, and returns to central themes from Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Russell. Wiping the slate clean, Unger works, from the ground up, to formulate a new metaphysic capable of accommodating our distinctly human perspective. He proposes a world with inherently powerful particulars of two basic sorts: one mental but not physical, the other (...) physical but not mental. Whether of one sort or the other, each individual possesses powers for determining his or her own course, as well as powers for interaction with other individuals. It is only a purely mental particular--an immaterial soul, like yourself--that is ever fit for real choosing, or for conscious experiencing. Rigorously reasoning that the only satisfactory metaphysic is one that situates the physical alongside the non-physical, Unger carefully explains the genesis of, and continual interaction of, the two sides of our deeply dualistic world. Written in an accessible and entertaining style, while advancing philosophical scholarship, All the Power in the World takes readers on a philosophical journey into the nature of reality. In this riveting intellectual adventure, Unger reveals the need for an entirely novel approach to the nature of physical reality--and shows how this approach can lead to wholly unexpected possibilities, including disembodied human existence for billions of years. All the Power in the World returns philosophy to its most ambitious roots in its fearless attempt to answer profoundly difficult human questions about ourselves and our world. (shrink)
This book espouses an innovative theory of scientific realism in which due weight is given to mathematics and logic. The authors argue that mathematics can be understood realistically if it is seen to be the study of universals, of properties and relations, of patterns and structures, the kinds of things which can be in several places at once. Taking this kind of scientific platonism as their point of departure, they show how the theory of universals can account for probability, laws (...) of nature, causation, and explanation, and explore the consequences in all these fields. This will be an important book for all philosophers of science, logicians, and metaphysicians, and their graduate students. The readership will also include those outside philosophy interested in the interrelationship of philosophy and science. (shrink)
While experience tells us that time flows from the past to the present and into the future, a number of philosophical and physical objections exist to this commonsense view of dynamic time. In an attempt to make sense of this conundrum, philosophers and physicists are forced to confront fascinating questions, such as: Can effects precede causes? Can one travel in time? Can the expansion of the Universe or the process of measurement in quantum mechanics define a direction in time? In (...) this book, researchers from both physics and philosophy attempt to answer these issues in an interesting, yet rigorous way. This fascinating book will be of interest to physicists and philosophers of science and educated general readers interested in the direction of time. (shrink)
Addressing many topics in epistemology and metaphysics, this treatise sets out a new theory of the unity of objects, and discusses personal identity, the metaphysics of possible worlds, the continuity in space time, and the nature of philosophical theorizing.
The eminent Ghanaian philosopher Kwasi Wiredu confronts the paradox that while Western cultures recoil from claims of universality, previously colonized peoples, seeking to redefine their identities, insist on cultural particularities.
Professor Hilary Putnam has been one of the most influential and sharply original of recent American philosophers in a whole range of fields. His most important published work is collected here, together with several new and substantial studies, in two volumes. The first deals with the philosophy of mathematics and of science and the nature of philosophical and scientific enquiry; the second deals with the philosophy of language and mind. Volume one is now issued in a new edition, including an (...) essay on the philosophy of logic first published in 1971. (shrink)
Space and time are the most fundamental features of our experience of the world, and yet they are also the most perplexing. Does time really flow, or is that simply an illusion? Did time have a beginning? What does it mean to say that time has a direction? Does space have boundaries, or is it infinite? Is change really possible? Could space and time exist in the absence of any objects or events? What, in the end, are space and time? (...) Do they really exist, or are they simply the constructions of our minds? Robin Le Poidevin provides a clear, witty, and stimulating introduction to these deep questions and many other mind-boggling puzzles and paradoxes. He gives a vivid sense of the difficulties raised by our ordinary ideas about space and time, but he also gives us the basis to think about these problems independently, avoiding large amounts of jargon and technicality. His book is an invitation to think philosophically rather than a sustained argument for particular conclusions, but Le Poidevin does advance and defend a number of controversial views. He argues, for example, that time does not actually flow, that it is possible for space and time to be both finite and yet be without boundaries, and that causation is the key to an understanding of one of the deepest mysteries of time: its direction. Drawing on a variety of vivid examples from science, history, and literature, Travels in Four Dimensions brings to life some of the most profound questions imaginable. (shrink)
The topic of personal identity has prompted some of the liveliest and most interesting debates in recent philosophy. In a fascinating new contribution to the discussion, Peter Unger presents a psychologically aimed, but physically based, account of our identity over time. While supporting the account, he explains why many influential contemporary philosophers have underrated the importance of physical continuity to our survival, casting a new light on the work of Lewis, Nagel, Nozick, Parfit, Perry, Shoemaker, and others. Deriving from his (...) discussion of our identity itself, Unger produces a novel but commonsensical theory of the relations between identity and some of our deepest concerns. In a conservative but flexible spirit, he explores the implications of his theory for questions of value and of the good life. (shrink)
Supervenience is one of the 'hot discoveries' of recent analytic philosophy, and this collection of new essays on the topic represents a 'state of the art' examination of it and its application to major areas of philosophy. The interest in supervenience has much to do with the flexibility of the concept. To say that x supervenes on y indicates a degree of dependence without committing one to the view that x can be reduced to y. Thus supervenience is a relationship (...) that has the potential of replacing the traditional notion of dependence, while performing at least part of the function reductive relationships were supposed to fulfil. Moreover, since it is a topic-neutral concept, supervenience has a wide range of applicability. (shrink)
Gomer and his stuffed dog, Little Gomer, are inseparable. When Gomer goes to the park to play with the other dogs, he holds on tight to his friend, even though he can't run as fast as he wants or romp the way the other dogs do. But when it's time to play fetch with the dog walker, Gomer sets Little Gomer down so that he can carry the fetch stick home-and leaves Little Gomer behind. How can Gomer survive without his (...) friend? Bright and cheerful illustrations punctuate this sweet story about the bond between a dog and his toy. (shrink)
Penelope Mackie's book is a novel treatment of an issue central to much current work in metaphysics: the distinction between the essential and accidental properties of individuals. Mackie challenges widely held views, and arrives at what she calls "minimalist essentialism," an unorthodox theory according to which ordinary individuals have relatively few interesting essential properties. Mackie's clear and accessible discussions of issues surrounding necessity and essentialism mean that the book will appeal as much to graduate students as it will to seasoned (...) metaphysicians. (shrink)
In this fully revised and updated version of the highly successful first edition, Michael J. Loux provides a fresh look at the central topics in metaphysics rendering this essential reading for anyone interested in metaphysics. Wherever possible, the author relates contemporary views to their classical sources in the history of philosophy.Some of the topics addressed include: the problem of universals; the nature of abstract entities; the problem of individuation; the nature of modality; identity through time; the nature of time and (...) a new chapter on the realism/antirealism debate. (shrink)
In this work, Henry Vyverberg traces the evolution and consequences of a crucial idea in French Enlightenment thought--the idea of human nature. Human nature was commonly seen as a broadly universal, unchanging entity, though perhaps modifiable by geographical, social, and historical factors. Enlightenment empiricism suggested a degree of cultural diversity that has often been underestimated in studies of the age. Evidence here is drawn from Diderot's celebrated Encyclopedia and from a vast range of writing by such Enlightenment notables as Voltaire, (...) Rousseau, and d'Holbach. Vyverberg explains not only the age's undoubted fascination with uniformity in human nature, but also its acknowledgment of significant limitations on that uniformity. He shows that although the Enlightenment's historical sense was often blinkered by its notions of a uniform human nature, there were also cracks in this concept that developed during the Enlightenment itself. (shrink)
This book aims at reconciling the emerging conceptions of mind and their contents that have, in recent years, come to seem irreconcilable. Post-Cartesian philosophers face the challenge of comprehending minds as natural objects possessing apparently non-natural powers of thought. The difficulty is to understand how our mental capacities, no less than our biological or chemical characteristics, might ultimately be products of our fundamental physical constituents, and to do so in a way that preserves the phenomena. Externalists argue that the significance (...) of thought turns on the circumstances of thinkers; reductionists hold that mental characteristics are physical; eliminationists contend that the concept of thought belongs to an outmoded folk theory of behavior. John Heil explores these topics and points the way to a naturalistic synthesis, one that accords the mental a place in the physical world alongside the non-mental. (shrink)
In our lives, we aim to achieve welfare for ourselves, that is, to live good lives. But we also have another, more impartial perspective, where we aim to balance our concern for our own welfare against a concern for the welfare of others. This is a perspective of justice. Nils Holtug examines these two perspectives and the relations between them. -/- The first part of the book is concerned with prudence; more precisely, with what the necessary and sufficient conditions are (...) for having a self-interest in a particular benefit. It includes discussions of the extent to which self-interest depends on preferences, personal identity, and what matters in survival. It also considers the issue of whether it can benefit (or harm) a person to come into existence and what the implications are for our theory of self-interest. A 'prudential view' is defended, according to which a person has a present self-interest in a future benefit if and only if she stands in a relation of continuous physical realization of (appropriate) psychology to the beneficiary, where the strength of the self-interest depends both on the size of the benefit and on the strength of this relation. -/- The second part of the book concerns distributive justice and so how to distribute welfare or self-interest fulfilment over individuals. It includes discussions of welfarism, egalitarianism and prioritarianism, population ethics, the importance of personal identity and what matters for distributive justice, and the importance of all these issues for various topics in applied ethics, including the badness of death. Here, a version of prioritarianism is defended, according to which, roughly, the moral value of a benefit to an individual at a time depends on both the size of the benefit and on the individual's self-interest, at that time, in the other benefits that accrue to her at this and other times. (shrink)
Personal Identity and Ethics provides a lively overview of the relationship between the metaphysics of personal identity and ethics. How does personal identity affect our ethical judgments? It is a commonplace to hold that moral responsibility for past actions requires that the responsible agent is in some relevant respect identical to the agent who performed the action. Is this true? On the other hand, can ethics constrain our account of personal identity? Do the practical requirements of moral theory commit us (...) to holding that persons do remain identical over time? Or is it the case that personal identity is not, in fact, relevant to ethics? -/- Shoemaker provides the first comprehensive examination of these issues for the undergraduate audience. Topics include personal identity and prudential rationality; personal identity's significance for moral responsibility and ethical theory; and the practical consequences of accounts of personal identity for issues such as abortion, stem cell research, cloning, advance directives, populations ethics, multiple personality disorder, and the definition of death. (shrink)
In this collection of essays written over thirty years, Miri, drawing on both Western and Indian traditions, provides fresh insight into some fundamental philosophical concerns--morality, modernity, individual and group identity, rationality, and violence in politics.
A key to happiness lies in each person’s ability to know himself or herself. The consequences of going through life without self-knowledge are frequently self-obsession, false priorities, and unwarranted fears. This book explains the enlightening process of self-discovery and shows how it leads to self-sufficiency. The author offers guidance with inspiring true-life stories and practical advice that readers can apply to their own lives. Here is instruction on techniques for engaging in periods of solitude, with emphasis on making such times (...) enjoyable and spiritually enriching experiences. The author also discusses the relationships between solitude and human emotions, solitude and intelligence, methods of effective communication with others, and ways to create a state of mind that is based on self-sufficiency. Making solitude a source of spiritual enrichment entails creating a balance between the normal need for human relationships and the awareness of one’s self as an independent being. That balance invariably produces a sense of happiness and personal fulfillment. (shrink)
The law-governed world-picture -- A remarkable idea about the way the universe is cosmos and compulsion -- The laws as the cosmic order : the best-system approach -- The three ways : no-laws, non-governing-laws, governing-laws -- Work that laws do in science -- An important difference between the laws of nature and the cosmic order -- The picture in four theses -- The strategy of this book -- The meta-theoretic conception of laws -- The measurability approach to laws -- What (...) comes where -- In defense of some received views -- Some assumptions that will be in play -- The laws are propositions -- The laws are true -- The logically contingent consequences of the laws are laws themselves -- At least some laws are metaphysically contingent -- The meta-theoretic conception of laws -- Laws of nature, laws of science, laws of theories -- The first-order conception versus the meta-theoretic conception -- What is a law of nature? -- Some examples of meta-theoretic accounts -- The virtues of the meta-theoretic conception -- Weighing the virtues and shortcomings of the meta-theoretic conception -- An epistemological argument for the meta-theoretic conception of laws -- The discoverability thesis, the governing thesis, and the first-order conception -- The main argument -- The objection from bad company -- The objection from inference to the best explanation -- The objection from bayesianism -- The objection from contextualist epistemology -- The objection from the threat of inductive skepticism -- Laws, governing, and counterfactuals -- Where we are now -- What would things have to be like in order for the laws of nature to govern the universe? -- Lawhood, inevitability, counterfactuals -- What is it for a proposition to be inevitably true? -- What is it for a whole class of propositions to be inevitably true? -- What is it for lawhood to confer inevitability? -- NP and supporting counterfactuals -- The worry about context-variability -- A solution and a look ahead -- When would the laws have been different? -- Where we are now -- The God cases -- Other counterexamples to NP -- A moral-theoretic counterexample to NP -- Scientific contexts and non-scientific contexts -- Scientific God cases? -- Lewisian non-backtracking counterexamples -- Where things stand now -- How could science show that the laws govern? -- Why the law-governed world-picture must include the science-says-so thesis -- What is extra-scientific? -- How can the science-says-so thesis be true? -- NP as a consequence of the presuppositions in any scientific context -- Np as true in all possible scientific contexts -- But how could it be so? -- Attack of the actual-factualists -- Measurement and counterfactuals -- Where we are now -- Measurements, reliability, counterfactuals -- A general principle that captures the relation between measurement and counterfactuals -- What we can learn about lawhood from what we have learned about the counterfactual commitments of science -- A first-order account of laws or a meta-theoretic account of laws? -- What methods are presupposed to be legitimate measurement procedures? -- Why we must adopt a meta-theoretic account of laws -- What lawhood is -- Where we are now -- The measurability account of laws -- Brief review of the case for the mal -- A note about hedged laws -- How plausible is the mal? -- What if we don't care about the law-governed world-picture? -- Newton's God and Laplace's demon -- Beyond humean and non-humean -- Two views of laws -- Humean supervenience and the meta-theoretic conception -- Alleged counterexamples to humean supervenience -- Governing and non-trivial necessity -- How the mal lets us have it all -- Humeanism? non-humeanism? -- What is the significance of the idea of the law-governed universe? -- Where in the world are the laws of nature? -- Appendix: The mal in action : a few examples -- Of scientific theories and their laws -- Newton's theory as a paradigm example -- Classical special-force laws -- Geometrical optics and one of its laws -- Local deterministic field theories. (shrink)
This book is a major contribution to the philosophical literature on the nature of the self, personal identity, and survival. Its distinctive methodology is one that is phenomenologically descriptive rather than metaphysical and normative. On the basis of this approach Raymond Martin shows that the distinction between self and other is not nearly as fundamental a feature of our so-called egoistic values as has been traditionally thought. He explains how the belief in a self as a fixed, continuous point of (...) observation enters into our experience of ourselves and the world. He also reveals the explosive implications this thesis has for recent debates over personal identity and what matters in survival. This is the first book of analytic philosophy directly on the phenomenology of identity and survival. It builds bridges between analytic and phenomenological traditions and, thus, to open up a new field of investigation. (shrink)
The Metaphysics of Knowledge presents the thesis that knowledge is an absolutely fundamental relation, with an indispensable role to play in metaphysics, philosophical logic, and philosophy of mind and language. Knowledge has been generally assumed to be a propositional attitude like belief. But Keith Hossack argues that knowledge is not a relation to a content; rather, it a relation to a fact. This point of view allows us to explain many of the concepts of philosophical logic in terms of knowledge. (...) Hossack provides a theory of facts as structured combinations of particulars and universals, and presents a theory of content as the property of a mental act that determines its value for getting knowledge. He also defends a theory of representation in which the conceptual structure of a content is taken to picture the fact it represents. This permits definitions to be given of reference, truth, and necessity in terms of knowledge. Turning to the metaphysics of mind and language, Hossack argues that a conscious state is one that is identical with knowledge of its own occurrence. This allows us to characterize subjectivity, and, by illuminating the "I"-concept, allows us to gain a better understanding of the concept of a person. Language is then explained in terms of knowledge, as a device used by a community of persons for exchanging knowledge by testimony. The Metaphysics of Knowledge concludes that knowledge is too fundamental to be constituted by something else, such as one's functional or physical state; other things may cause knowledge, but do not constitute it. (shrink)
Are propositions of law true or false? If so, what does it mean to say that propositions of law are true and false? This book takes up these questions in the context of the wider philosophical debate over realism and anti-realism. Despite surface differences, Patterson argues that the leading contemporary jurisprudential theories all embrace a flawed conception of the nature of truth in law. Instead of locating that in virtue of which propositions of law are true, Patterson argues that lawyers (...) use forms of argument to show the truth of propositions of law. Additionally, Patterson argues that the realism/anti-realism debate in jurisprudence is part of a larger argument over the role of postmodernism in jurisprudence. For this, Patterson offers an analytic account of postmodernism and charts its implications for legal theory. This book will be of interest to those in legal theory, philosophy, social and political theory, and ethics. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: The meaning of life -- Richard Taylor, The meaning of life -- Thomas Nagel, The absurd -- Richard Hare, Nothing matters -- W.D. Joske, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- Robert Nozick, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- David Schmidtz, The meanings of life -- Part II: Creating people -- Derek Parfit, Whether causing someone to exist can benefit this person -- John Leslie, Why not let life ecome extinct? -- James Lenman, On becoming (...) extinct -- David Benatar, Why it is better never to come into existence -- Part III: Death -- Stephen E. Rosenbaum, How to be dead and not care : a defense of epicurus -- GeorgePpitcher, The misfortunes of the dead -- Steven Luper, Annihilation -- Fred Fldman, Some puzzles about the evil of death -- Frederick Kaufman, Pre-vital and post-mortem non-existence -- David B. Suits, Why death is not bad for the one who died -- Part IV: Suicide -- David Hume, Of suicide -- Immanuel Kant, Suicide and duty -- David Benatar, Suicide : a qualified defence -- Part V: Immortality -- James Lenman, Immortality : a letter -- Bernard Williams, The Makropulos case : reflections on the tedium of immortality -- John Martin Fischer, Why immortality is not so bad -- Christine Overall, from here to eternity : is it good to live forever? -- Part VI: Optimism and pessimism -- Margaret A. Boden, Optimism -- Michaelis Michael and Peter Caldwell, The consolations of optimism -- Bruce N. Waller, The sad truth : optimism, pessimism, and pragmatism -- Arthur Schopenhauer, On the suffering of the world. (shrink)