Recent scientific advances have placed many traditional philosophical concepts under great stress. In this pathbreaking book, the eminent philosopher Robert Nozick rethinks and transforms the concepts of truth, objectivity, necessity, contingency, consciousness, and ethics. Using an original method, he presents bold new philosophical theories that take account of scientific advances in physics, evolutionary biology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience, and casts current cultural controversies (such as whether all truth is relative and whether ethics is objective) in a wholly new light. Throughout, the book is open to, and engages in, the bold exploration of new philosophical possibilities.
Philosophy will never look the same. Truth is embedded in space-time and is relative to it. However, truth is not socially relative among human beings (extraterrestrials are another matter). Objective facts are invariant under specified transformations; objective beliefs are arrived at by a process in which biasing factors do not play a significant role. Necessity's domain is contracted (there are no important metaphysical necessities; water is not necessarily H2O) while the important and useful notion of degrees of contingency is elaborated. Gradations of consciousness (based upon "common registering") yield increasing capacity to fit actions to the world. The originating function of ethics is cooperation to mutual benefit, and evolution has instilled within humans a "normative module": the capacities to learn, internalize, follow norms, and make evaluations. Ethics has normative force because of the connection between ethics and conscious self-awareness. Nozick brings together the book's novel theories to show the extent to which there are objective ethical truths.
|Edition description:||New Edition|
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About the Author
Robert Nozick was Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University. His book Anarchy, State, and Utopia received a National Book Award.
Table of Contents
Introduction: On Philosophical Method
I. THE STRUCTURE OF THE OBJECTIVE WORLD
1. Truth and Relativism
Is Truth Relative?
Who Wants Relativism?
Truth in Space and Time
The Truth Property
Is a Theory of Truth Possible?
Is Truth Socially Relative?
Does Relativism Undercut Itself?
The Correspondence Theory
2. Invariance and Objectivity
Two Types of Philosophical Account
The Ordering of Objectiveness
Objective Beliefs and Biasing Factors
Dimensions of Truth
The Objectivity of Science
The Functional View
Underdetermination of Theory
Rationality, Progress, Objectivity, and Veridicality
3. Necessity and Contingency
Epistemology of Necessity
On the Supposed Necessity of Water's Being H2O
The Withering of Metaphysical Necessity
Explaining Away Necessities
Logical and Mathematical Necessity
Degrees of Contingency
The Nature of Actuality
The Ultimate Theory of the World
II. THE HUMAN WORLD AS PART OF THE OBJECTIVE WORLD
4. The Realm of Consciousness
The Function of Consciousness
Gradations of Awareness
The Context of Consciousness
The Zoom-Lens Theory
Synthesizing and Filtering Data
The Functions of Phenomenology
5. The Genealogy of Ethics
The Theory of Ethics
The Ubiquity of Ethics
Coordination to Mutual Benefit
Coordination via Ethical Norms
The Evaluation of Systems of Coordination
The Core Principle of Ethics
Normative Force and the Normativity Module
Higher Layers of Ethics
Ethical Truth and Ethical Objectivity
The Unpredictability of Human Behavior
Ethics and Conscious Self-Awareness