Every day the news shows us provoking stories about what's going on in the world, about events which raise moral questions and problems. In Philosophers Take On the World a team of philosophers get to grips with a variety of these controversial issues, from the amusing to the shocking, in short, engaging, often controversial pieces. Covering topics from guns to abortion, the morality of drinking alone, hating a sports team, and being rude to cold callers, the essays will make you think again about the judgements we make on a daily basis and the ways in which we choose to conduct our lives. Philosophers Take On the World is based on the blog run by the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, one of the world's leading centres for applied ethics.
In this book of brief essays, Singer applies his controversial ways of thinking to issues like climate change, extreme poverty, animals, abortion, euthanasia, human genetic selection, sports doping, the sale of kidneys, the ethics of high-priced art, and ways of increasing happiness. Singer asks whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalised, and he reiterates his case against the idea that all human life is sacred, applying his arguments to some recent cases in the news. In addition, he explores, in an easily accessible form, some of the deepest philosophical questions, such as whether anything really matters and whether the pale blue dot that is our planet has any value. The collection also includes some more personal reflections, like Singer's thoughts on one of his favourite activities, surfing, and an unusual suggestion for starting a family conversation over a holiday feast. Provocative and original, these essays will challenge - and possibly change - your beliefs about a wide range of real-world ethical questions.
A few days before the terrorist attacks in Paris, a car bomb exploded in Beirut killing dozens. Though this may happen on the other side of the world, deep divisions occur that are exploited for political expediency. Strangers are no longer people reading quietly on the bus, but potential threats. How can we respond? James Arvanitakis argues that one way forward is through acts of kindness and embracing hope. Hope here is not passive, but an active hope that emerges through our actions.
On July 8th, 2015, something weird happened. The NYSE computers went down and trading was suspended for several hours. The culprit wasn't hackers or a rogue algorithm. It was just... a glitch. And it's just the beginning.
Technological complexity is no trivial matter. While a few hours of suspended trading may not have had lasting impact on the markets, imagine the damage that could result from a breakdown of our air traffic control systems, or earthquake warning systems. We need a new way to think about technology, and we need it fast.
In Overcomplicated, complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman argues that we've reached a new era: a time when our technological systems have become too complex and interconnected for us to fully understand or predict.
From our machines and software to our legal frameworks and urban infrastructure, Arbesman explores the forces that lead us to continue to make systems more complicated and more incomprehensible, despite our best efforts to make them simpler. He goes on to identify a new framework for thinking about (and planning within) complex systems.
We must abandon the idea that we will understand the rules, and instead become field biologists for technology - relying on description and observation to uncover facts about how a system might work. Whether you work in business, finance, science, or IT, or you simply own a smart phone,Overcomplicated offers valuable insight on how to adapt to the complex age we are living in.
Does the future exist already? What is space? Are time machines physically possible? What is quantum mechanical reality like? Are there many universes? Is there a true geometry of the universe? Why does there appear to be an arrow of time? Do humans play a special role in the world? In this unique introductory book, Dean Rickles guides the reader through these and other core questions that keep philosophers of physics up at night. He discusses the three pillars of modern physics (quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and the theories of relativity), in addition to more cutting-edge themes such as econophysics, quantum gravity, quantum computers, and gauge theories. The book s approach is based on the idea that philosophy of physics is a kind of interpretation game in which we try to map physical theories onto our world. But the rules of this game often lead to a multiplicity of possible victors: rarely do we encounter a simple answer. The Philosophy of Physics offers a highly accessible introduction to the latest developments in this exciting field. Written in a lively style, with many visual examples, it will appeal to beginner-level students in both physics and philosophy.
Homo Deus will shock you. It will entertain you. Above all, it will make you think in ways you had not thought before. (Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast, and Slow). Yuval Noah Harari, author of the bestselling Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, envisions a not-too-distant world in which we face a new set of challenges. Now, in Homo Deus, he examines our future with his trademark blend of science, history, philosophy and every discipline in between. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century - from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus. War is obsolete You are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict Famine is disappearing You are at more risk of obesity than starvation Death is just a technical problem Equality is out - but immortality is in What does our future hold?
Karl Popper was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. His criticism of induction and his falsifiability criterion of demarcation between science and non-science were major contributions to the philosophy of science. Popper's broader philosophy of critical rationalism comprised a distinctive philosophy of social science and political theory. His critique of historicism and advocacy of the open society marked him out as a significant philosopher of freedom and reason. This book sets out the historical and intellectual contexts in which Popper worked, and offers an overview and diverse criticisms of his central ideas. The volume brings together contributors with expertise on Popper's work, including people personally associated with Popper (such as Jarvie, Miller, Musgrave, Petersen and Shearmur), specialists on the topics treated (Bradie, Godfrey-Smith and Jackson), and scholars with special interests in aspects of Popper's work (Andersson, Hacohen, Maxwell and Stokes).
Was nineteenth-century philosophy merely a substitute for religion? The American philosopher Richard Rorty once argued precisely that. Rorty saw intellectuals of the long nineteenth-century (c 1789-1914) as being preoccupied by secular concerns: and at first his assertion does seem plausible. From Immanuel Kant and G W F Hegel to F H Bradley and Charles Peirce, philosophers of the period attempted to discuss knowledge, morality, freedom and ethics on terms that made no appeal to any special revelation or divinity beyond reason. But this lively survey argues otherwise: that Rorty's claim is not only an over-simplification, but wrong. The ideas of the leading nineteenth-century thinkers were not mere substitutions for religion: they were motivated by deep religious concerns. Soren Kierkegaard famously grappled with God, truth and doubt even as he lambasted the Danish church. If Nietzsche is the notable exception then he proves the rule since, as he remarked himself, one saw 'the theologian instinct' everywhere in the spirit of his age. Joel Rasmussen deftly charts the key discussions of an era when the problem of God refused to die.
An urgent defense of reason, the essential method for resolving-or even discussing-divisive issues Reason, long held as the highest human achievement, is under siege. According to Aristotle, the capacity for reason sets us apart from other animals, yet today it has ceased to be a universally admired faculty. Rationality and reason have become political, disputed concepts, subject to easy dismissal. Julian Baggini argues eloquently that we must recover our reason and reassess its proper place, neither too highly exalted nor completely maligned. Rationality does not require a sterile, scientistic worldview, it simply involves the application of critical thinking wherever thinking is needed. Addressing such major areas of debate as religion, science, politics, psychology, and economics, the author calls for commitment to the notion of a community of reason, where disagreements are settled by debate and discussion, not brute force or political power. Baggini's insightful book celebrates the power of reason, our best hope-indeed our only hope-for dealing with the intractable quagmires of our time.
The scenario of the brain in a vat, first aired thirty-five years ago in Hilary Putnam's classic paper, has been deeply influential in philosophy of mind and language, epistemology, and metaphysics. This collection of new essays examines the scenario and its philosophical ramifications and applications, as well as the challenges which it has faced. The essays review historical applications of the brain-in-a-vat scenario and consider its impact on contemporary debates. They explore a diverse range of philosophical issues, from intentionality, external-world scepticism, and the nature of truth, to the extended mind hypothesis, reference magnetism, and new versions of realism. The volume will be a rich and valuable resource for advanced students in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind and language, as well as anyone interested in the relations between language, thought and the world.
'But What if We're Wrong?' is a book of original, reported, interconnected pieces that speculate on the likelihood that many of our universally accepted, deeply engrained cultural and scientific beliefs will someday seem absurd. Looking at our present-day society as we consider past civilisations, Klosterman points to a profound and simple idea: what if one day our thinking is as hopelessly outdated as that of that Middle Ages? Using a range of original interviews with a wide variety of thinkers, including George Saunders, David Byrne, Jonathan Lethem, Alex Ross, Kathryn Schulz and Neil deGrasse Tyson, 'But What If We're Wrong?' makes an irreverent and thought provoking critique of our assumptions: How certain is our understanding of gravity? What do we really know about time? What will be the defining cultural moment, 500 years from now? What contemporary film and literature will be canonised and celebrated in centuries to come? (How, in fact, is science and history constructed?) Is it possible that we over-rate democracy and freedom when we claim it is a universal value? Most disturbingly of all, Klosterman asks if we have reached the 'end of new knowledge' itself.
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.
Philosophers from Descartes to Kripke have struggled with the glittering prize of modern and contemporary philosophy: the mind-body problem. The brain is physical. If the mind is physical, we cannot see how. If we cannot see how the mind is physical, we cannot see how it can interact with the body. And if the mind is not physical, it cannot interact with the body. Or so it seems.
In this book the philosopher Jonathan Westphal examines the mind-body problem in detail, laying out the reasoning behind the solutions that have been offered in the past and presenting his own proposal. The sharp focus on the mind-body problem, a problem that is not about the self, or consciousness, or the soul, or anything other than the mind and the body, helps clarify both problem and solutions.
Westphal outlines the history of the mind-body problem, beginning with Descartes. He describes mind-body dualism, which claims that the mind and the body are two different and separate things, nonphysical and physical, and he also examines physicalist theories of mind; antimaterialism, which proposes limits to physicalism and introduces the idea of qualia; and scientific theories of consciousness.
Finally, Westphal examines the largely forgotten neutral monist theories of mind and body, held by Ernst Mach, William James, and Bertrand Russell, which attempt neither to extract mind from matter nor to dissolve matter into mind. Westphal proposes his own version of neutral monism. This version is unique among neutral monist theories in offering an account of mind-body interaction.
While society generally espouses the value of logic and certainty, we grow because we doubt. Humans have not spent millennia traversing oceans and experimenting with explosives because of confidence in their beliefs. Culture and science are rooted in unknowns, and when we accept doubt we are more creative and generous, more human. Self-doubt is the indubitable baddie of many aphorisms, but what would life without doubt look like? TL Uglow looks at how writers across the ages have tackled the indecision and uncertainty in the engine room of humankind.
Many books explain what is known about the universe. This book investigates what cannot be known. Rather than exploring the amazing facts that science, mathematics, and reason have revealed to us, this work studies what science, mathematics, and reason tell us cannot be revealed. In The Outer Limits of Reason, Noson Yanofsky considers what cannot be predicted, described, or known, and what will never be understood. He discusses the limitations of computers, physics, logic, and our own thought processes.
Yanofsky describes simple tasks that would take computers trillions of centuries to complete and other problems that computers can never solve; perfectly formed English sentences that make no sense; different levels of infinity; the bizarre world of the quantum; the relevance of relativity theory; the causes of chaos theory; math problems that cannot be solved by normal means; and statements that are true but cannot be proven. He explains the limitations of our intuitions about the world'our ideas about space, time, and motion, and the complex relationship between the knower and the known.
Moving from the concrete to the abstract, from problems of everyday language to straightforward philosophical questions to the formalities of physics and mathematics, Yanofsky demonstrates a myriad of unsolvable problems and paradoxes. Exploring the various limitations of our knowledge, he shows that many of these limitations have a similar pattern and that by investigating these patterns, we can better understand the structure and limitations of reason itself. Yanofsky even attempts to look beyond the borders of reason to see what, if anything, is out there.