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Metaphysics and Epistemology - A Guided Anthology - A Guided Anthology

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Metaphysics and Epistemology: A Guided Anthology presents a comprehensive introductory overview of key themes, thinkers, and texts in metaphysics and epistemology.
* Presents a wide-ranging collection of carefully excerpted readings on metaphysics and epistemology
* Blends classic and contemporary works to reveal the historical development and present directions in the fields of metaphysics and epistemology
* Provides succinct, insightful commentary to introduce the essence of each selection at the beginning of chapters which also serve to inter-link the selected writings

List of contents

Source Acknowledgments x

Preface and Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

Part I The Philosophical Image 1

1 Life and the Search for Philosophical Knowledge 3
Plato, Republic

2 Philosophical Questioning 14
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy

3 Philosophy and Fundamental Images 20
Wilfrid Sellars, "Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man"

4 Philosophy as the Analyzing of Key Concepts 27
P.F. Strawson, Analysis and Metaphysics

5 Philosophy as Explaining Underlying Possibilities 33
Robert Nozick, Philosophical Explanations

Part II Metaphysics: Philosophical Images of Being 41

How Is the World at all Physical? 43

6 How Real Are Physical Objects? 43
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy

7 Are Physical Objects Never Quite as They Appear To Be? 48
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

8 Are Physical Objects Really Only Objects of Thought? 54
George Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge

9 Is Even the Mind Physical? 60
D.M. Armstrong, "The Causal Theory of the Mind"

10 Is the Physical World All There Is? 66
Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia"

How Does the World Function? 74

11 Is Causation Only a Kind of Regularity? 74
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

12 Is Causation Something Singular and Unanalyzable? 81
G.E.M. Anscombe, "Causation and Determination"

How Do Things Ever Have Qualities? 88

13 How Can Individual Things Have Repeatable Qualities? 88
Plato, Parmenides

14 How Can Individual Things Not Have Repeatable Qualities? 95
D.M. Armstrong, Nominalism and Realism

How Are There Any Truths? 102

15 Do Facts Make True Whatever Is True? 102
Bertrand Russell, "The Philosophy of Logical Atomism"

16 Are There Social Facts? 107
John Searle, Mind, Language and Society

17 Is There Only Personally Decided Truth? 114
Plato, Theaetetus

How Is There a World At All? 120

18 Has the World Been Designed by God? 120
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

19 Is God's Existence Knowable Purely Conceptually? 131
St. Anselm, Proslogion

20 Has This World Been Actualized by God from Among All Possible Worlds? 145
G.W. Leibniz, Monadology

21 Does This World Exist Because It Has Value Independently of God? 149
Nicholas Rescher, Nature and Understanding

22 Can Something Have Value in Itself? 158
Plato, Euthyphro

How Are Persons Persons? 161

23 Is Each Person a Union of Mind and Body? 161
René Descartes, "Meditation VI"

24 Is Self-Consciousness what Constitutes a Person? 164
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

25 How Strictly Does Self-Consciousness Constitute a Person? 170
Roderick M. Chisholm, "Identity through Time"

26 Are Persons Constituted with Strict Identity At All? 177
Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons

27 Are We Animals? 187
Eric T. Olson, "An Argument for Animalism"

How Do People Ever Have Free Will and Moral Responsibility? 196

28 Is There No Possibility of Acting Differently To How One Will in Fact Act? 196
Aristotle, De Interpretatione

29 Could Our Being Entirely Caused Coexist with Our Acting Freely? 200
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

30 Would Being Entirely Caused Undermine Our Personally Constitutive Emotions? 206
P.F. Strawson, "Freedom and Resentment"

31 Is a Person Morally Responsible Only for Actions Performed Freely? 213
Harry G. Frankfurt, "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility"

32 Is Moral Responsibility for a Good Action Different to Moral Responsibility for a Bad Action? 218
Susan Wolf, "Asymmetrical Freedom"

How Could a Person Be Harmed by Being Dead? 224

33 Is It Impossible To Be Harmed by Being Dead? 224
Epicurus, "Letter to Menoeceus"

34 Is It Impossible To Be Harmed by Being Dead at a Particular Time? 226
Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

35 Would Immortality Be Humanly Possible and Desirable? 229
Bernard Williams, "The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality"

36 Can a Person be Deprived of Benefits by Being Dead? 236
Fred Feldman, Confrontations with the Reaper

Further Readings for Part II 240

Part III Epistemology: Philosophical Images of Knowing 245

Can We Understand What It Is to Know? 247

37 Is Knowledge a Supported True Belief? 247
Plato, Meno

38 When Should a Belief be Supported by Evidence? 251
W.K. Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief "

39 Is Knowledge a Kind of Objective Certainty? 256
A.J. Ayer, The Problem of Knowledge

40 Are All Fallibly Supported True Beliefs Instances of Knowledge? 260
Edmund L. Gettier, "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?"

41 Must a True Belief Arise Aptly, if it is to be Knowledge? 264
Alvin I. Goldman, "A Causal Theory of Knowing"

42 Must a True Belief Arise Reliably, if it is to be Knowledge? 268
Alvin I. Goldman, "Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge"

43 Where is the Value in Knowing? 273
Catherine Z. Elgin, "The Epistemic Efficacy of Stupidity"

44 Is Knowledge Always a Virtuously Derived True Belief? 279
Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski, Virtues of the Mind

Can We Ever Know Just through Observation? 287

45 Is All Knowledge Ultimately Observational? 287
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

46 Is There a Problem of Not Knowing that One Is Not Dreaming? 292
René Descartes, "Meditation I"

47 What Is It Really to be Seeing Something? 295
David Lewis, "Veridical Hallucination and Prosthetic Vision"

48 Is There a Possibility of Being a Mere and Unknowing Brain in a Vat? 302
Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth and History

49 Is It Possible to Observe Directly the Objective World? 311
John McDowell, "The Disjunctive Conception of Experience as Material for a Transcendental Argument"

Can We Ever Know Innately? 317

50 Is It Possible to Know Innately Some Geometrical or Mathematical Truths? 317
Plato, Meno

51 Is There No Innate Knowledge At All? 325
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Can We Ever Know Just through Reflection? 335

52 Is All Knowledge Ultimately Reflective? 335
René Descartes, Discourse on Method

53 Can Reflective Knowledge Be Substantive and Informative? 340
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

54 Is All Apparently Reflective Knowledge Ultimately Observational? 349
John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic

55 Is Scientific Reflection Our Best Model for Understanding Reflection? 355
C.S. Peirce, "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities" and "How To Make Our Ideas Clear"

56 Are Some Necessities Known through Observation, Not Reflection? 363
Saul A. Kripke, Naming and Necessity

Can We Know in Other Fundamental Ways? 369

57 Is Knowing-How a Distinct Way of Knowing? 369
Gilbert Ryle, "Knowing How and Knowing That"

58 Is Knowing One's Intention-in-Action a Distinct Way of Knowing? 376
G.E.M. Anscombe, Intention

59 Is Knowing via What Others Say or Write a Distinct Way of Knowing? 383
Jennifer Lackey, "Knowing from Testimony"

60 Is Knowing through Memory a Distinct Way of Knowing? 391
Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Mind

Can We Fundamentally Fail Ever To Know? 399

61 Are None of our Beliefs More Justifiable than Others? 399
Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism

62 Are None of Our Beliefs Immune from Doubt? 407
René Descartes, "Meditation I"

63 Are We Unable Ever To Extrapolate Justifiedly Beyond Our Observations? 410
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Can Skeptical Arguments Be Escaped? 417

64 Can We Know at Least Our Conscious Mental Lives? 417
René Descartes, "Meditation II"

65 Can We Know Some Fundamental Principles by Common Sense? 422
Thomas Reid, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man

66 Do We Know a Lot, but Always Fallibly? 434
Karl R. Popper, "On the Sources of Knowledge and of Ignorance"

67 Is It Possible to have Knowledge even when Not Knowing that One Is Not a Brain in a Vat? 444
Robert Nozick, Philosophical Explanations

Further Readings for Part III 452

About the author

Stephen Hetherington is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, Australia. His publications include Good Knowledge, Bad Knowledge (2001), Reality? Knowledge? Philosophy! (2003), Self-Knowledge (2007), Yes, But How Do You Know? (2009), and How To Know (2011).


Metaphysics and Epistemology: A Guided Anthology presents a comprehensive introductory overview of key themes, thinkers, and seminal texts in metaphysics and epistemology. The author offers a wide-ranging collection of painstakingly excerpted readings on metaphysics and epistemology.

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