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How scientists through the ages have conducted thought experiments using imaginary entities-demons-to test the laws of nature and push the frontiers of what is possible Science may be known for banishing the demons of superstition from the modern world. Yet just as the demon-haunted world was being exorcized by the enlightening power of reason, a new kind of demon mischievously materialized in the scientific imagination itself. Scientists began to employ hypothetical beings to perform certain roles in thought experiments-experiments that can only be done in the imagination-and these impish assistants helped scientists achieve major breakthroughs that pushed forward the frontiers of science and technology. Spanning four centuries of discovery-from Rene Descartes, whose demon could hijack sensorial reality, to James Clerk Maxwell, whose molecular-sized demon deftly broke the second law of thermodynamics, to Darwin, Einstein, Feynman, and beyond-Jimena Canales tells a shadow history of science and the demons that bedevil it. She reveals how the greatest scientific thinkers used demons to explore problems, test the limits of what is possible, and better understand nature. Their imaginary familiars helped unlock the secrets of entropy, heredity, relativity, quantum mechanics, and other scientific wonders-and continue to inspire breakthroughs in the realms of computer science, artificial intelligence, and economics today. The world may no longer be haunted as it once was, but the demons of the scientific imagination are alive and well, continuing to play a vital role in scientists' efforts to explore the unknown and make the impossible real.
The philosophical writings of Duns Scotus, one of the most influential philosophers of the Later Middle Ages, are here presented in a volume that presents the original Latin with facing page English translation. CONTENTS: Foreword to the Second Edition. Preface. Introduction. Select Bibliography. I. Concerning Metaphysics II. Man's Natural Knowledge of God III. The Existence of God IV. The Unicity of God V. Concerning Human Knowledge VI. The Spirituality and Immortality of the Human Soul Notes. Index of Proper Names. Index of Subjects.
The Seventeenth-Century philosopher, scientist, poet, playwright, and novelist Margaret Cavendish went to battle with the great thinkers of her time, and arguably got the better of them in many cases. She took a creative and systematic stand on the major questions of philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics, and political philosophy. She argued that human beings and all other members of the created universe are purely material creatures, and she held that there are many other ways in which creatures are alike as well: for example, human beings, non-human animals, spiders, cells, and all other beings exhibit skill, wisdom, and activity, and so the universe of matter is not the largely dead and unimpressive region that most of her contemporaries thought it to be. Creatures instead are sophisticated and display a wide spectrum of intelligent activity, ranging from the highly conscious mentality that Descartes posited to be part and parcel of human thought, to embodied forms of cognition that is more common in non-human creatures but that guide a significant portion of human behavior as well. Cavendish then used her fictional work to further illustrate her views and arguments, and also to craft alternative fictional worlds in which the climate for women was very different than on Seventeenth-Century earth - a climate in which women could be taken seriously in the role of philosopher, writer, scientist, military general, and other roles. This is the first volume to provide a cross-section of Cavendish's writings, views and arguments, along with introductory material. It excerpts the key portions of all her texts including annotated notes highlighting the interconnections between them. Including a general introduction by Cunning, the book will allow students to work toward a systematic picture of Cavendish's metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy (and including some of her non-philosophical work as well) and to see her in dialogue with philosophers who are part of the traditional canon.
Philosophy Bites Again is a brand new selection of interviews from the popular podcast of the same name. It offers engaging and thought-provoking conversations with leading philosophers on a selection of major philosophical issues that affect our lives. Their subjects include pleasure, pain, and humour; consciousness and the self; free will, responsibility, and punishment; the meaning of life and the afterlife. Everyone will find ideas in this book to fascinate, provoke, and inspire them. Philosophy Bites was set up in 2007 by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton. It has, to date, over 20 million downloads, and is listened to all over the world.
What are humans? What makes us who we are? Many think that we are just complicated machines, or animals that are different from machines only by being conscious. In Are We Bodies or Souls? Richard Swinburne comes to the defence of the soul and presents new philosophical arguments that are supported by modern neuroscience. When scientific advances enable neuroscientists to transplant a part of brain into a new body, he reasons, no matter how much we can find out about their brain activity or conscious experiences we will never know whether the resulting person is the same as before or somebody entirely new. Swinburne thus argues that we are immaterial souls sustained in existence by our brains. Sensations, thoughts, and intentions are conscious events in our souls that cause events in our brains. While scientists might discover some of the laws of nature that determine conscious events and brain events, each person's soul is an individual thing and this is what ultimately makes us who we are.
First published in 1985, D. M. Armstrong's original work on what laws of nature are has continued to be influential in the areas of metaphysics and philosophy of science. Presenting a definitive attack on the sceptical Humean view, that laws are no more than a regularity of coincidence between stances of properties, Armstrong establishes his own theory and defends it concisely and systematically against objections. Presented in a fresh twenty-first-century series livery, and including a specially commissioned preface written by Marc Lange, illuminating its continuing importance and relevance to philosophical enquiry, this influential work is available for a new generation of readers.
This book, geared toward academic researchers and graduate students, brings together research on all facets of how time and causality relate across the sciences. Time is fundamental to how we perceive and reason about causes. It lets us immediately rule out the sound of a car crash as its cause. That a cause happens before its effect has been a core, and often unquestioned, part of how we describe causality. Research across disciplines shows that the relationship is much more complex than that. This book explores what that means for both the metaphysics and epistemology of causes - what they are and how we can find them. Across psychology, biology, and the social sciences, common themes emerge, suggesting that time plays a critical role in our understanding. The increasing availability of large time series datasets allows us to ask new questions about causality, necessitating new methods for modeling dynamic systems and incorporating mechanistic information into causal models.
We human beings had no say in existing--we just opened our eyes and found ourselves here. We have a fundamental need to understand who we are and the world we live in. Reason takes us a long way, but mystery remains. When our minds and senses are baffled, faith can seem justified--but faith is not knowledge. In Ultimate Questions, acclaimed philosopher Bryan Magee provocatively argues that we have no way of fathoming our own natures or finding definitive answers to the big questions we all face. With eloquence and grace, Magee urges us to be the mapmakers of what is intelligible, and to identify the boundaries of meaningfulness. He traces this tradition of thought to his chief philosophical mentors--Locke, Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer--and shows why this approach to the enigma of existence can enrich our lives and transform our understanding of the human predicament. As Magee puts it, "There is a world of difference between being lost in the daylight and being lost in the dark." The crowning achievement to a distinguished philosophical career, Ultimate Questions is a deeply personal meditation on the meaning of life and the ways we should live and face death.
Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility is a series of volumes presenting outstanding new work on a set of connected themes, investigating such questions as: * What does it mean to be an agent? * What is the nature of moral responsibility? Of criminal responsibility? What is the relation between moral and criminal responsibility (if any)? * What is the relation between responsibility and the metaphysical issues of determinism and free will? * What do various psychological disorders tell us about agency and responsibility? * How do moral agents develop? How does this developmental story bear on questions about the nature of moral judgment and responsibility? * What do the results from neuroscience imply (if anything) for our questions about agency and responsibility? No one has written more insightfully on the promises and perils of human agency than Gary Watson, who has spent a career thinking about issues such as moral responsibility, blame, free will, weakness of will, addiction, and psychopathy. This special edition of OSAR pays tribute to Watson's work by taking up and extending themes from his pioneering essays.
The doctrine of the atonement is the distinctive doctrine of Christianity. Over the course of many centuries of reflection, highly diverse interpretations of the doctrine have been proposed. In the context of this history of interpretation, Eleonore Stump considers the doctrine afresh with philosophical care. Whatever exactly the atonement is, it is supposed to include a solution to the problems of the human condition, especially its guilt and shame. Stump canvasses the major interpretations of the doctrine that attempt to explain this solution and argues that all of them have serious shortcomings. In their place, she argues for an interpretation that is both novel and yet traditional and that has significant advantages over other interpretations, including Anselms well-known account of the doctrine. In the process, she also discusses love, union, guilt, shame, forgiveness, retribution, punishment, shared attention, mind-reading, empathy, and various other issues in moral psychology and ethics.
Essentialism--roughly, the view that natural kinds have discrete essences, generating truths that are necessary but knowable only a posteriori--is an increasingly popular view in the metaphysics of science. At the same time, philosophers of language have been subjecting Kripke's views about the existence and scope of the necessary a posteriori to rigorous analysis and criticism. Essentialists typically appeal to Kripkean semantics to motivate their radical extension of the realm of the necessary a posteriori; but they rarely attempt to provide any semantic arguments for this extension, or engage with the critical work being done by philosophers of language. This collection brings authors on both sides together in one volume, thus helping the reader to see the connections between views in philosophy of language on the one hand and the metaphysics of science on the other. The result is a book that will have a significant impact on the debate about essentialism, encouraging essentialists to engage with debates about the semantic presuppositions that underpin their position, and, encouraging philosophers of language to engage with the metaphysical presuppositions enshrined in Kripkean semantics.
Analyzes nonrational thought processes underlying grammar; Indian philosophy, modern poetry, etc.
This is the first English translation of Causalite' et Lois de La Nature, and is an important contribution to the theory of causation. Max Kistler reconstructs a unified concept of causation that is general enough to adequately deal with both elementary physical processes, and the macroscopic level of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. This book will be of great interest to philosophers of science and metaphysics, and also to students and scholars of philosophy of mind where concepts of causation and law play a prominent role. Contents1. What is a Causal Relation? 2. Laws of Nature and Universal Generalisations 3. Applicability Conditions and the Concept of "Strict Law" 4. Consequences 5. The Nomological Theory of Causation and Causal Responsibility 6. Efficacious Properties and the Instantiation of Laws 7. Causal Responsibility and its Applications Conclusion.
This book explores the complex domain of social reality, asking what this reality is, how it is composed and what its dynamics are in both theoretical and practical terms. Through the examination of some of the most important contemporary theories of social ontology, the book discusses the fundamentals of the discipline and lays the foundations for its development in the political sphere. By analyzing the notion of State and the redesign of ontology, the author argues in favor of a realist conception of the State and shows the reasons why this promotes a better understanding of the dynamics of power and the actualization of a greater justice between generations. This book captures the relationship between different generations within the same political context, and presents it as a necessary condition for the re-definition of the concepts of State and meta-State.
Georges Dicker here provides a commentary on John Locke's masterwork, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding-the foundational work of classical Empiricism. Dicker's commentary is an accessible guide for students who are reading Locke for the first time; a useful research tool for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students; and a contribution to Locke scholarship for professional scholars. It is designed to be read alongside the Essay, but does not presuppose familiarity with it. Dicker expounds and critically discusses the main theses and arguments of each of the Essay's four books, on the innatism that Locke opposes, the origin and classification of ideas, language and meaning, and knowledge, respectively. He analyses Locke's influential explorations of related topics, including primary and secondary qualities, substance, identity, personal identity, free will, nominal and real essences, perception, and external-world skepticism, among others. Written in an analytical style that strives for clarity, the book offers careful textual analyses as well as step-by-step reconstructions of Locke's arguments, and it references and engages with relevant work of other major philosophers and Locke commentators.
Franz Brentano is recognised as one of the most important philosophers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This work, first published in English in 1988, besides being an important contribution to metaphysics in its own right, has considerable historical importance through its influence on Husserl's views on internal time consciousness. The work is preceded by a long introduction by Stephan K?rner in collaboration with Brentano's literary executor.
Sudduth provides a critical exploration of classical empirical arguments for survival arguments that purport to show that data collected from ostensibly paranormal phenomena constitute good evidence for the survival of the self after death. Utilizing the conceptual tools of formal epistemology, he argues that classical arguments are unsuccessful.
An illuminating celebration of more than 80 of the world's most important thinkers, this book explores the fascinating stories of their lives, their loves, and their pioneering ideas. Introduced with a stunning portrait of each featured philosopher, entries trace the ideas and beliefs, and the relationships and rivalries that inspired the great thinkers and influenced their work, providing revealing insights into what drove them to question the meaning of life and come up with new ways of understanding the world. Lavishly illustrated with photographs and paintings of philosophers, their homes, friends, studies, and their personal belongings, together with pages from original manuscripts, first editions, and correspondence, this book introduces the key ideas, themes, and working methods of each featured individual, setting their ideas within a wider historical and cultural context. Charting the development of ideas across the centuries in both the East and West, from ancient Chinese philosophy to the work of contemporary thinkers, Philosophers provides a compelling glimpse into the personal lives, loves, and influences of the great philosophers as they probed into life's "big ideas".
Thomas Aquinas is one of the foremost thinkers in Western
philosophy and Christian scholarship, recognized as a significant
voice in both theological discussions and secular philosophical
debates. Alongside a revival of interest in Thomism in philosophy,
scholars have realized its relevance when addressing certain
contemporary issues in bioethics. This book offers a rigorous
interpretation of Aquinas's metaphysics and ethical thought, and
highlights its significance to questions in bioethics.
Ron Mallon explores how thinking and talking about kinds of person can bring those kinds into being. Social constructionist explanations of human kinds like race, gender, and homosexuality are commonplace in the social sciences and humanities, but what do they mean and what are their implications? This book synthesizes recent work in evolutionary, cognitive, and social psychology as well as social theory and the philosophy of science, in order to offer a naturalistic account of the social construction of human kinds. Mallon begins by qualifying social constructionist accounts of representations of human kinds by appealing to evidence suggesting canalized dispositions towards certain ways of representing human groups, using race as a case study. He then turns to interpret constructionist accounts of categories as attempts to explain causally powerful human kinds by appealling to our practices of representing them, and he articulates a view in which widespread representations produce entrenched social roles that could vindicate such attempts. Mallon goes on to explore constructionist concerns with the social consequences of our representations, focusing especially on the way human kind representations can alter our behaviour and undermine our self understandings and our agency. Mallon understands socially constructed kinds as the real, sometimes stable products of our cognitive and representational practices, and he suggests that reference to such kinds can figure in our everyday and scientific practices of representing the social world. The result is a realistic, naturalistic account of how human representations might contribute to making up the parts of the social world that they represent.
Most texts claiming to trace the evolution of metaphysics do so according to the analytical tradition, which understands metaphysics as a reflection of different categories of reality. Incorporating the perspectives of Continental theory does little to expand this history, as the Continental tradition remains largely hostile to such metaphysical claims. The first history of metaphysics to respect both the analytical and Continental schools while also transcending the theoretical limitations of each, this compelling overview restores the value of metaphysics to contemporary audiences.
Beginning with the Greeks and concluding with present day philosophers, Jean Grondin reviews seminal texts by the Presocratic Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, and Augustine. He follows the theological turn in metaphysical thought during the middle ages and reads Avicenna, Anselm, Aquinas, and Duns Scot. Grondin revisits Descartes and the cogito; Spinoza and Leibniz's rationalist approaches; Kant's reclaiming of the metaphysical tradition; and postkantian practice up to Hegel. He engages with the twentieth-century innovations that shook the discipline, particularly Heidegger's notion of Being and the rediscovery of the metaphysics of existence (Sartre and the Existentialists), language (Gadamer and Derrida), and transcendence (Levinas). Metaphysics is often dismissed as a form or epoch of philosophy that must be overcome, yet a full understanding of its platform and processes reveal a cogent approach to reality, and its reasoning has been foundational to modern philosophy and science. Grondin reacquaints readers with the rich currents and countercurrents of metaphysical thinking and muses on where it may be headed in the twenty-first century.
Between Logic and the World presents a theory of generic sentences and the kind-directed modes of thought they express. The theory closely integrates compositional semantics with metaphysics to solve the problem that generics pose: what do generics mean? Generic sentences are extremely simple, yet if there are patterns to be discerned in terms of which are true and which are false, these patterns are subtle and complex. Ravens are black, lions have manes, sea-turtles are long-lived, and bishops in chess move along diagonals. Statistical measures cannot do justice to the facts, but what else is there that at least has a hope of giving us insight into what we are capturing across so many domains? Bernhard Nickel argues that generics are the top of a fundamentally explanatory iceberg. By focusing on blackness in ravens and manes in lions, for instance, we can place the kinds into a framework structured by explanatory considerations. Between Logic and the World argues that this explanatory framework is deeply intertwined with the semantics of the language we use to express them, and in giving its integrated semantic and metaphysical theory of generics, it aims to solve old puzzles and draw attention to new phenomena.
'What is real?' has been one of the key questions of philosophy since its beginning in antiquity. It is a question that, due to such films as The Matrix, has also made its way into popular culture. But it is not just a question philosophers ask. It is also asked by scientists when they investigate whether the fundamental constituents of matter are actually 'out there' or just a mere abstraction from a successful theory. Cognitive scientists ask it when trying to find out which set of the bewildering array of data processed by our brain could constitute the basis for such supposedly fundamental entities like the free agent or the self. This Very Short Introduction discusses what reality is by looking at a variety of arguments, theories and thought-experiments from philosophy, physics, and cognitive science. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The metaphysics of ordinary objects is an increasingly vibrant field of study for philosophers. This volume gathers insights from a number of leading authors, who together tackle the central issues in contemporary debates about the subject. Their essays engage with topics including composition, persistence, perception, categories, images, artifacts, truthmakers, metaontology, and the relationship between the manifest and scientific images. Exploring the nature of everyday things, the contributors situate their arguments and the latest research against the background of the field's development. Moreover, many essays propose new ideas and approaches, looking ahead to the future of the metaphysical study of ordinary objects. Featuring numerous clearly explained examples and with thoughtful links drawn to other, related disciplines such as pragmatism, this wide-ranging volume fills a major gap in the literature and will be important for scholars working in metaphysics.
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