A Survey of Metaphysics
Lowe (E.J.)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Amazon Product Description

  1. A Survey of Metaphysics provides a systematic overview of modern metaphysics, covering all of the most important topics likely to be encountered on a metaphysics course.
  2. The conception of metaphysics underlying the book is the fairly traditional and widely-shared one that metaphysics deals with the deepest questions that can be raised concerning the fundamental structure of reality as a whole.
  3. The book is divided into six main parts, each relatively self-contained, focusing in turn on the following major themes: identity and change, necessity and essence, causation1, agency and events, space and time, and universals2 and particulars.
  4. In an introductory chapter, the conception of metaphysics underlying the book is explained and defended against the many and varied opponents of metaphysics those students are likely to encounter.
  5. While the book makes reference when necessary to the history of metaphysics, its emphasis is on contemporary views and issues. The author's approach is not narrowly partisan, but avoids bland neutrality in matters of controversy.

Author’s Preface
  1. As its title indicates, the scope of this book is broad, my intention being that it should be capable of serving as a core text for students of modern metaphysics, covering all of the most important topics that they are likely to encounter in a typical metaphysics course. It is aimed primarily at intermediate and advanced undergraduate students of philosophy, that is, at students who have already been introduced to some basic metaphysical concepts and doctrines and who have acquired some familiarity with the techniques of philosophical analysis and argumentation. At the same time, I hope that the book will be reasonably accessible to a wider range of readers with philosophical interests, including those with backgrounds in other disciplines, who want a general overview of modern metaphysics. Although the book aims to provide a systematic treatment of all the main areas of modern metaphysics, most of the chapters are relatively self-contained, so that it should be possible for teachers of the subject to select those chapters which best meet the requirements of their courses.
  2. It must be acknowledged that no two teachers of metaphysics are likely to agree as to what exactly should be included in a course on the subject and that such disagreements can sometimes reflect different conceptions of what metaphysics is or ought to be. The conception of metaphysics that informs A Survey of Metaphysics is, however, a fairly traditional and still very widely shared one — namely, that metaphysics deals with the most profound questions that can be raised concerning the fundamental structure of reality. According to this conception, metaphysics goes deeper than any merely empirical science, even physics, because it provides the very framework within which such sciences are conceived and related to one another. A core text in metaphysics written from this point of view must aim, first and foremost, to elucidate certain universally applicable concepts — for example, those of identity, necessity, causation3, space, and time — and then go on to examine some important doctrines which involve these concepts, such as the thesis that truths of identity are necessary and the claim that temporally backward causation4 is impossible. In addition, it must endeavour to provide a systematic account of the ways in which entities belonging to different ontological categories — for example, things, events, and properties — are interrelated. These, accordingly, are the main objectives of A Survey of Metaphysics. A subsidiary objective is to explain and defend the conception of metaphysics which informs the book: for students need to be aware of the many and varied opponents of metaphysics and how they may be countered.
  3. I should emphasize that my aim in this book is to provide a survey of major themes and problems in modern metaphysics, not a comprehensive survey and critique of the views of major contemporary metaphysicians, much less a systematic history of the subject. Consequently, I tend not to engage in direct debate with the published work of other philosophers, past or present — although I do refer to it very frequently and have included an extensive bibliography of mostly recent publications. Such direct engagement would have made the book considerably longer and more complex than it already is and, I think, less useful to its intended audience, who need to understand the issues before engaging in current debate or historical investigation for themselves. It should also be stressed, however, that the book is by no means narrowly partisan, in the sense of promoting my own opinions on particular issues whilst excluding mention of others. At the same time, I try to avoid bland neutrality in matters of controversy.
  4. … [… snip, Acknowledgements … ]

BOOK COMMENT:

Oxford University Press, 2002. Nice paperback copy.



"Lowe (E.J.) - Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 1


Sections
  1. What is metaphysics? – 1
  2. The threat of relativism – 4
  3. The objection from naturalized epistemology – 5
  4. Kant and the possibility of metaphysics – 7
  5. Metaphysics and empirical knowledge – 9
  6. Possibility, concepts, and semantics – 11
  7. Ontology and ontological categories – 13
  8. A short outline of this book – 16



"Lowe (E.J.) - Identity Over Time and Change Of Composition"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 2


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 concern problems of identity, persistence, and change. Some of these problems involve cases of fission and fusion, in which one thing 'becomes two' or two 'become one' — as in the notorious puzzle of the ship of Theseus2.
  2. In Chapter 2, I look at such cases with a view to determining whether, and if so how, a composite thing can retain its identity over time while undergoing a change of its component parts. I also raise the question of whether identity could be vague, or a matter of degree.

Sections
  1. Numerical and qualitative identity – 23
  2. Composite objects and change of parts – 24
  3. The puzzle of the ship of Theseus3 – 25
  4. Two radical solutions to the puzzle – 28
  5. A better solution? – 30
  6. Intermittent existence4 – 33
  7. Fission and fusion – 35
  8. Is vague identity possible? – 36
  9. The paradox of the thousand and one cats – 37




In-Page Footnotes ("Lowe (E.J.) - Identity Over Time and Change Of Composition")

Footnote 1: Taken from "Lowe (E.J.) - Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics".



"Lowe (E.J.) - Qualitative Change and the Doctrine Of Temporal Parts"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 3


Author’s Abstract1
  1. In Chapter 3, I turn to the question of whether, and if so how, a thing can retain its identity over time while undergoing a change of its intrinsic qualities — the so-called problem of intrinsic change.
  2. Here I explain and evaluate the doctrine of temporal parts, which offers one solution to this problem.

Sections
  1. Leibniz's Law2 and the problem of qualitative change – 41
  2. Presentism – 42
  3. Three temporal realist solutions to the problem – 43
  4. A clarification of the adverbial solution – 47
  5. Perdurance versus endurance – 49
  6. The notion of temporal parts – 50
  7. A problem for perdurance theories – 54
  8. Temporal parts as theoretical entities – 55




In-Page Footnotes ("Lowe (E.J.) - Qualitative Change and the Doctrine Of Temporal Parts")

Footnote 1: Taken from "Lowe (E.J.) - Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics".



"Lowe (E.J.) - Substantial Change and Spatiotemporal Coincidence"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 4


Author’s Abstract1
  1. In Chapter 4, I look at the question of whether our concept of identity should be a relative or an absolute one, in the course of discussing how we can best conceptualize cases of so-called substantial change — for example, the case of a statue2 being formed from a lump of bronze.
  2. Should we allow that two different things, such as the statue3 and its constituent bronze, can exist in exactly the same place at the same time? How indeed, if at all, does the relation of constitution differ from the relation of identity?

Sections
  1. Beginning and ceasing to exist – 59
  2. Can there be coinciding objects? – 61
  3. Relative versus absolute identity – 62
  4. Temporal parts and coinciding objects – 65
  5. Some radical solutions to the problem of coincidence – 66
  6. In defence of coinciding objects – 68
  7. Identity and constitution – 73
  8. The problem of Tibbles4 and Tib – 74




In-Page Footnotes ("Lowe (E.J.) - Substantial Change and Spatiotemporal Coincidence")

Footnote 1: Taken from "Lowe (E.J.) - Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics".



"Lowe (E.J.) - Necessity and Identity"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 5


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 5 to 7 concern the metaphysics of modality2, that is, metaphysical issues to do with possibility and necessity.
  2. In Chapter 5, after considering some analogies between time and modality3, I look at a well-known attempt to prove that true identity statements are necessarily true and raise some possible objections to this alleged proof. I also examine some of its supposed metaphysical implications, in particular its bearing upon the mind-body problem.

Sections
  1. Two kinds of possibility – 79
  2. Possibility as a dimension of variation – 80
  3. Possible worlds – 81
  4. Necessary truths and necessary beings – 82
  5. An argument for the necessity of identity – 84
  6. Some objections to the argument – 86
  7. Rigid designators – 89
  8. Transworld identity – 90
  9. Could two objects have been one? – 91
  10. The necessity of identity and the mind-body problem – 92




In-Page Footnotes ("Lowe (E.J.) - Necessity and Identity")

Footnote 1: Taken from "Lowe (E.J.) - Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics".



"Lowe (E.J.) - Essentialism"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 6


Author’s Abstract1
  1. In Chapter 6, I introduce the distinction between essential and accidental properties and raise the question of whether this distinction is founded in convention or has a more objective basis.
  2. I also examine two important essentialist theses concerning the necessity of origin and the necessity of constitution.
  3. In this connection, I describe certain modal2 paradoxes and the threats they pose for essentialism.

Sections
  1. Essential and accidental properties – 96
  2. Essential properties and the necessity of identity – 99
  3. Essential properties and the problem of transworld identity – 100
  4. Individual essences and haecceities – 101
  5. The necessity of origin – 103
  6. A four-worlds argument for the necessity of origin – 104
  7. The necessity of constitution – 106
  8. A temporal comparison and accessibility relations – 109
  9. A brief stock-taking – 112
  10. Essence and conventionalism – 113




In-Page Footnotes ("Lowe (E.J.) - Essentialism")

Footnote 1: Taken from "Lowe (E.J.) - Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics".



"Lowe (E.J.) - Possible Worlds"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 7


Author’s Abstract1
  1. In Chapter 7, I discuss the ways in which so-called possible worlds have been invoked to interpret modal2 statements and raise some questions concerning the ontological status of possible worlds and their inhabitants.
  2. I also discuss the so-called problem of transworld identity and examine some arguments for and against the doctrine of actualism, that is, the view that only actual entities, not merely possible ones, exist.

Sections
  1. The language of possible worlds – 115
  2. Modal logics3 and their interpretation – 116
  3. Accessibility relations and essentialist theses – 119
  4. How should we understand talk of possible worlds? – 120
  5. A deflationary view – 121
  6. Transworld identity again – 123
  7. Another deflationary view – 124
  8. Modal4 fictionalism – 126
  9. Realist theories of possible worlds – 128
  10. Robust realism and the indexical conception of actuality – 129
  11. Moderate realism and actualism versus possibilism – 131




In-Page Footnotes ("Lowe (E.J.) - Possible Worlds")

Footnote 1: Taken from "Lowe (E.J.) - Introduction: The Nature of Metaphysics".



"Lowe (E.J.) - Counterfactual Conditionals"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 8



"Lowe (E.J.) - Causes and Conditions"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 9



"Lowe (E.J.) - Counterfactuals and Event Causation"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 10



"Lowe (E.J.) - Event Causation and Agent Causation"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 11



"Lowe (E.J.) - Actions and Events"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 12



"Lowe (E.J.) - Events, Things, and Space-Time"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 13



"Lowe (E.J.) - Absolutism Versus Relativism"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 14



"Lowe (E.J.) - Incongruent Counterparts and the Nature of Space"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 15



"Lowe (E.J.) - The Paradoxes Of Motion and the Possibility of Change"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 16



"Lowe (E.J.) - Tense and the Reality of Time"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 17



"Lowe (E.J.) - Causation and the Direction of Time"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 18



"Lowe (E.J.) - Realism Versus Nominalism"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 19



"Lowe (E.J.) - The Abstract and the Concrete"

Source: Lowe - A Survey of Metaphysics, Chapter 20



Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
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  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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