Contemporary Metaphysics
Jubien (Michael)
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Cover Blurb

  1. This intelligible yet challenging survey aims to introduce the student to central metaphysical issues while at the same time pursuing a coherent metaphysical view. The range of topics discussed is refreshingly different from the average metaphysics introduction thereby making it ideal for upper division undergraduates and beginning graduate students.
  2. The author sets the scene by taking the student through general theoretical matters, including discussions on the nature of metaphysics and the nature of concepts, and offering a general conception of the nature of philosophy. He then proceeds to address a diversity of metaphysical issues, ranging from colour to modality1 to the nature of physical objects through to the question of truth in fiction. Exercises designed to stimulate further thinking and to indicate further dimensions of the topics are posed throughout the book to encourage a more advanced study of the discipline.

Amazon Customer Review
  1. Suppose you build a wooden rowboat, and use it regularly. As the boat deteriorates over the years, you start replacing the worn pieces, one by one, with new pieces. Eventually every piece is replaced, such that none of the original pieces are left. Question: is this "the same boat" as you originally had?
  2. Questions of identity and change over time are major topics in the field of metaphysics. These issues and more are dealt with in "Contemporary Metaphysics", Michael Jubien's superb introductory text.
  3. The book's outstanding feature is the author's careful exposition of the subject matter. Although the material is at times conceptually difficult, Jubien's writing has a precision that allows him to set forth complex notions while maintaining clarity. The "Ship of Theseus2" problem, with which I began this review, is a case in point: paradoxical on the face of it, the puzzle unravels under Jubien's skilful analysis. Even in the more difficult later chapters, the reader is seldom left "lagging behind", which really helps one come to grips with the subject matter. Further, the exercises placed throughout the text are an excellent way to gauge whether one has properly understood the issues -- and hence whether one should re-read the preceding section.
  4. The book is not, however, without its faults. I for one would have liked Jubien to engage in a little more "name-dropping". Much of the book's discussion consists in arguments and counter-arguments, all presented anonymously. Now I assume that *somebody* devised the arguments Jubien recounts; and yet, he seldom mentions who originally formulated them. Of course, knowledge of the history of a doctrine is not necessary to understanding of that doctrine; but the historical element is not without interest, and I can only feel that Jubien's decision to omit this element was unfortunate. The book would have been more satisfying if it told the reader "who's on whose side". A "further reading" list would also be useful for those readers who wish to learn more about the subject matter than an introductory text can reasonably accommodate.
  5. Notwithstanding these criticisms, "Contemporary Metaphysics" makes interesting and enlightening reading. It would make ideal preliminary or further reading for students undertaking a tertiary-level metaphysics course. Indeed, as a means to understanding the basic issues and debates of metaphysics, Jubien's book looks pretty hard to beat.


Wiley-Blackwell (5 Oct 1997)

"Jubien (Michael) - Metaphysics"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 1

  1. A Picture of Philosophy
  2. Concepts
  3. Analysis
  4. The Scope of Metaphysics

"Jubien (Michael) - Numbers"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 2
COMMENT: Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 08 (I-K)".

"Jubien (Michael) - Things and Their Parts"

Source: Jubien - Ontology, Modality, and the Fallacy of Reference, 1993, Chapter 2

  1. Introduction
  2. The Theory M
  3. The Formal Version of M
  4. The Theory M+
  5. Persistence versus temporal parts
  6. The Boundaries of Things
  7. An Almost Embarrassingly Simple Argument
  8. Statues1 and Lumps of Clay


"Jubien (Michael) - Platonism"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 3

  1. Properties, Relations, and Propositions
  2. Alternatives to Platonism
  3. Linguistic Entities

COMMENT: Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 08 (I-K)".

"Jubien (Michael) - Identity"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 4

Author’s Introduction
  1. The word "identity" has several senses in everyday English. Sometimes it has a psychological sense (as in "He had an identity crisis"); sometimes it has more of a cultural sense (as in "They tried to preserve their ethnic identity”); sometimes there are political overtones (as in "They saw it as a threat to their national identity"); and there are no doubt other senses as well.
  2. Many of these senses, including the ones just mentioned, have definite emotional dimensions. But when philosophers use the term, they usually mean nothing of the kind. They usually mean the relation of identity (mentioned in Section 3.11). It is difficult to think of any notion more devoid of emotional overtones than the relation of identity. Identity is the relation that, as a matter of necessity, every entity bears to itself, and no entity bears to anything other than itself. Despite its evident austerity and simplicity, this relation has caused an enormous amount of philosophical confusion and trouble, some of which we will explore and try to dispel in this chapter.
  3. Not surprisingly, much of the confusion and trouble has its roots in language. One of the major sources is the English word "is," which is used in three remarkably different ways. (A similar phenomenon occurs in many other languages too.) …

    The three uses are
    • Property attribution
    • Identity
    • (Exact) similarity.

COMMENT: Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 08 (I-K)".

In-Page Footnotes ("Jubien (Michael) - Identity")

Footnote 1: Ie. the first Section of "Jubien (Michael) - Platonism".

"Jubien (Michael) - Is Truth 'Relative'?"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 5

  1. Two Concepts of Truth?:
  2. Relativity and Truth

"Jubien (Michael) - Color"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 6

"Jubien (Michael) - Determinism, Freedom, and Fatalism"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 7

  1. Causation1;
  2. Determinism and Freedom;
  3. Fatalism

"Jubien (Michael) - Modality"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 8

  1. The Metaphysical Concept
  2. Understanding Possibility
  3. Essentialism
  4. A Property-Theoretic Response

COMMENT: Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 08 (I-K)".

"Jubien (Michael) - Things and Their Parts"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 9

  1. A General Conception of Things
  2. Mereological Essentialism
  3. The River and the Movie
  4. Total Turnover
    4.1 The Neptune
    4.2 The Neptune (Version II)


"Jubien (Michael) - Is There Truth in Fiction?"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 10

  1. Introduction;
  2. Two Thought Experiments1;
  3. A Sketch of a Theory

"Jubien (Michael) - Cosmology"

Source: Jubien - Contemporary Metaphysics, 1997, Chapter 11

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