Philosophical Progress

In Defence of a Reasonable Optimism

Author: Daniel Stoljar

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0192522442

Category: Philosophy

Page: 192

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Many people believe that philosophy makes no progress. Members of the general public often find it amazing that philosophers exist in universities at all, at least in research positions. Academics who are not philosophers often think of philosophy either as a scholarly or interpretative enterprise, or else as a sort of pre-scientific speculation. And - amazingly - many well-known philosophers argue that there is little genuine progress in philosophy. Daniel Stoljar argues that this is all a big mistake. When you think through exactly what philosophical problems are, and what it takes to solve them, the pattern of success and failure in philosophy is similar to that in other fields. In philosophy, as elsewhere, there is a series of overlapping topics that determine what the subject is about. In philosophy, as elsewhere, different people in different historical epochs and different cultures ask different big questions about these topics. And in philosophy, as elsewhere, big questions asked in the past have often been solved: Stoljar provides examples. Philosophical Progress presents a strikingly optimistic picture of philosophy - not a radical optimism that says that there is some key that unlocks all philosophical problems, and not the kind of pessimism that dominates both professional and non-professional thinking about philosophy, but a reasonable optimism that views philosophy as akin to other fields.

Philosophers of Our Times

Author: Ted Honderich

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191021229

Category: Philosophy

Page: 320

View: 9015

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Eighteen of the world's most eminent philosophers of recent years tackle central questions of philosophy in this collection of the prestigious annual lectures given at the Royal Institute of Philosophy in London. The line-up of authors is stellar: Simon Blackburn, Ned Block, Tyler Burge, David Chalmers, Noam Chomsky, Jerry Fodor, Jürgen Habermas, Anthony Kenny, Christine Korsgaard, John McDowell, Alasdair MacIntyre, Thomas Nagel, Derek Parfit, T. M. Scanlon, John Searle, Sir Peter Strawson, Bernard Williams, and Mary Warnock. There are six pieces on questions to do with mind, perception, and action; four on reason and morality; six range over freedom, identity, religion, and politics; and the last two take a step back to look at philosophy itself and how it works. The best way to learn about philosophy is to read philosophy at its best: that is what this fascinating anthology offers.

Being, Freedom, and Method

Themes from the Philosophy of Peter van Inwagen

Author: John A. Keller

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0192508148

Category: Philosophy

Page: 432

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John Keller presents a set of new essays on ontology, time, freedom, God, and philosophical method. Our understanding of these subjects has been greatly advanced, since the 1970s, by the work of Peter van Inwagen. The contributions, from some of the most prominent living philosophers, engage with van Inwagen's work and offer new insights in metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of philosophy. Van Inwagen himself gives selective responses. In metaphysics, the volume will particularly interest philosophers working on free will, relational vs constituent ontologies, and time travel; in philosophy of religion, notable topics include the ontological argument, the compatibility of theism and evolution, the problem of evil, and the doctrine of atonements. And there are three papers on the hot topic of philosophical success, with responses from van Inwagen.

No Morality, No Self

Anscombe’s Radical Skepticism

Author: James Doyle

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 0674976509

Category: Philosophy

Page: 224

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Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” and “The First Person” have become touchstones of analytic philosophy but their significance remains controversial or misunderstood. James Doyle offers a fresh interpretation of Anscombe’s theses about ethical reasoning and individual identity that reconciles seemingly incompatible points of view.

Ignorance and Imagination

The Epistemic Origin of the Problem of Consciousness

Author: Daniel Stoljar

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199723966

Category: Philosophy

Page: 262

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Ignorance and Imagination advances a novel way to resolve the central philosophical problem about the mind: how it is that consciousness or experience fits into a larger naturalistic picture of the world. The correct response to the problem, Stoljar argues, is not to posit a realm of experience distinct from the physical, nor to deny the reality of phenomenal experience, nor even to rethink our understanding of consciousness and the language we use to talk about it. Instead, we should view the problem itself as a consequence of our ignorance of the relevant physical facts, Stoljar shows that this change of orientation is well motivated historically, empirically, and philosophically, and that it has none of the side effects it is sometimes thought to have. The result is a philosophical perspective on the mind that has a number of far-reaching consequences: for consciousness studies, for our place in nature, and for the way we think about the relationship between philosophy and science.

There's Something about Mary

Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument

Author: Peter Ludlow,Yujin Nagasawa,Daniel Stoljar

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 9780262621892

Category: Philosophy

Page: 463

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Key papers on one of the most important and provocative thought experiments in philosophy of mind.

Adam Smith

Systematic Philosopher and Public Thinker

Author: Eric Schliesser

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0190690127

Category: Philosophy

Page: 424

View: 3421

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Eric Schliesser's Adam Smith is the product of two decades' reflection by the author on the great Scottish Enlightenment. Unique among treatments of Adam Smith, Schliesser's book treats him as a systematic philosopher. Smith was a giant of the Scottish Enlightenment with polymath interests; Schliesser thus explores Smith's economics and ethics in light of his other commitments on the nature of knowledge, the theory of emotions, the theory of mind, his account of language, the nature of causation, and his views on methodology. He places Smith's ideas in the context of a host of other philosophers, especially Hume, Rousseau, and Newton; and he draws on the reception of Smith's ideas by Sophie de Grouchy, Mary Wollstonecraft, and other philosophers and economists to sketch the elements of, and the detailed connections within, Smith's system. Adam Smith traces the outlines of Smith's intellectual system and situates it in the context of his highly developed views on the norms that govern responsible speech. In particular, the book articulates Smith's concerns about the impact of his public policy recommendations, especially on the least powerful in society. In so doing, Schliesser offers new interpretations of Smith's views on the invisible hand, the Wealth of Nations, his treatment of virtue, the nature of freedom, the individual's relationship to society, his account of the passions, the moral roles of religion, and his treatment of the role of mathematics in economics. While the book does offer a single argument, it is organized in a modular fashion and includes a helpful index; readers with a more focused interest in Smith's achievements can skip to their section of interest.

On What Matters

Volume One

Author: Derek Parfit

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199681031

Category: Philosophy

Page: 592

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This is the first volume of a major work in moral philosophy, the long-awaited follow-up to Parfit's classic Reasons and Persons, a landmark of 20th-century philosophy. Parfit presents a powerful new treatment of reasons and a critical examination of the most prominent systematic moral theories, leading to his own ground-breaking conclusion.

Enlightenment Now

The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Author: Steven Pinker

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 0525427570

Category: Psychology

Page: 556

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An assessment of the human condition in the twenty-first century presents data demonstrating that life quality, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise throughout the world because of the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.

Candide (憨第德)

Author: Voltaire

Publisher: Hyweb Technology Co. Ltd.

ISBN: N.A

Category: Foreign Language Study

Page: 36

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On the surface a witty, bantering tale of advneture (or misadventure), Candide is actually a savage, satiric thrust at the philosophical optimism which proclaims that nation-wide disasters and individual suffering are both just part of a cosmic plan which is essentially good. Voltaire was not prepared to excuse the world's evil quite so easily, now would he encourage man to accept evil as fate without trying to prevent it or fight it. Candide is the story of a man who, though pummeled and slapped in every direction by fate, tries desperately to cling to his optimism.

The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy

Author: Anthony Gottlieb

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 163149208X

Category: Philosophy

Page: 384

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Anthony Gottlieb’s landmark The Dream of Reason and its sequel challenge Bertrand Russell’s classic as the definitive history of Western philosophy. Western philosophy is now two and a half millennia old, but much of it came in just two staccato bursts, each lasting only about 150 years. In his landmark survey of Western philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, The Dream of Reason, Anthony Gottlieb documented the first burst, which came in the Athens of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now, in his sequel, The Dream of Enlightenment, Gottlieb expertly navigates a second great explosion of thought, taking us to northern Europe in the wake of its wars of religion and the rise of Galilean science. In a relatively short period—from the early 1640s to the eve of the French Revolution—Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Hume all made their mark. The Dream of Enlightenment tells their story and that of the birth of modern philosophy. As Gottlieb explains, all these men were amateurs: none had much to do with any university. They tried to fathom the implications of the new science and of religious upheaval, which led them to question traditional teachings and attitudes. What does the advance of science entail for our understanding of ourselves and for our ideas of God? How should a government deal with religious diversity—and what, actually, is government for? Such questions remain our questions, which is why Descartes, Hobbes, and the others are still pondered today. Yet it is because we still want to hear them that we can easily get these philosophers wrong. It is tempting to think they speak our language and live in our world; but to understand them properly, we must step back into their shoes. Gottlieb puts readers in the minds of these frequently misinterpreted figures, elucidating the history of their times and the development of scientific ideas while engagingly explaining their arguments and assessing their legacy in lively prose. With chapters focusing on Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Pierre Bayle, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau, and Voltaire—and many walk-on parts—The Dream of Enlightenment creates a sweeping account of what the Enlightenment amounted to, and why we are still in its debt.

Putting Humans First

Why We are Nature's Favorite

Author: Tibor R. Machan

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

ISBN: 9780742533455

Category: Philosophy

Page: 135

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This book challenges the notion that humans aren't any more important than, say, ants, and ethics and politics must be adjusted accordingly as not to rank human concerns as primary.

It's Better Than It Looks

Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear

Author: Gregg Easterbrook

Publisher: PublicAffairs

ISBN: 1610397428

Category: History

Page: 352

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Is civilization teetering on the edge of a cliff? Or are we just climbing higher than ever? Most people who read the news would tell you that 2017 is one of the worst years in recent memory. We're facing a series of deeply troubling, even existential problems: fascism, terrorism, environmental collapse, racial and economic inequality, and more. Yet this narrative misses something important: by almost every meaningful measure, the modern world is better than it ever has been. In the United States, disease, crime, discrimination, and most forms of pollution are in long-term decline, while longevity and education keep rising and economic indicators are better than in any past generation. Worldwide, malnutrition and extreme poverty are at historic lows, and the risk of dying by war or violence is the lowest in human history. It's not a coincidence that we're confused--our perspectives on the world are blurred by the rise of social media, the machinations of politicians, and our own biases. Meanwhile, political reforms like the Clean Air Act and technological innovations like the hybridization of wheat have saved huge numbers of lives. In that optimistic spirit, Easterbrook offers specific policy reforms to address climate change, inequality, and other problems, and reminds us that there is real hope in conquering such challenges. In an age of discord and fear-mongering, It's Better Than It Looks will profoundly change your perspective on who we are, where we're headed, and what we're capable of.

In Defense of Lost Causes

Author: Slavoj Žižek

Publisher: Verso

ISBN: 1844674290

Category: Philosophy

Page: 530

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A high-energy philosophical manifesto on the concept and virtues of universal values addresses such topics as Heidegger's engagement with the Third Reich, the role of class struggles in global capitalism, and the legacy of Christianity against New Age spiritualism. Original.

The Rational Optimist

How Prosperity Evolves

Author: Matt Ridley

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780062025371

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 480

View: 8502

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Life is getting better—and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down — all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for two hundred years. Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair. This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

50th Anniversary Edition

Author: Thomas S. Kuhn

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226458148

Category: Science

Page: 264

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A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.

Alciphron, Or The Minute Philosopher

In Seven Dialogues. : Containing an Apology for the Christian Religion, Against Those who are Called Free-thinkers

Author: George Berkeley

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: N.A

Category: Apologetics

Page: 388

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What Can Philosophy Contribute to Ethics?

Author: James Griffin

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198748094

Category: Ethics

Page: 168

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Ethics appears early in the life of a culture. It is not the creation of philosophers. Many philosophers today think that their job is to take the ethics of their society in hand, analyse it into parts, purge the bad ideas, and organize the good into a systematic moral theory. The philosophers' ethics that results is likely to be very different from the culture's raw ethics and, they think, being better, should replace it. But few of us, even among philosophers, settle real-life moral questions by consulting the Categorical Imperative or the Principle of Utility, largely because, if we do, we often do not trust the outcome or cannot even reliably enough decide what it is. By contrast, James Griffin explores the question what philosophers can reasonably expect to contribute to normative ethics or to the ethics of a culture. Griffin argues that moral philosophers must tailor their work to what ordinary humans' motivational capabilities, and he offers a new account of moral deliberation.