Are the characteristics and relationships among spatio-temporal entities “real” or are they simply conventional terms that note similarities among things in the world but lack any reality of their own? Or if they are real, what sort of reality do they have? Do we live in a world of causes and effects, or is this relation a useful contrivance for our convenience? What is the nature of this “I” that we invoke when referring to ourselves? Is it body? Mind? Both? Neither? And once its nature is understood, what can be said of the choices it makes? Are they really ours, freely made by an independent will? Or is each choice determined more by the internal makeup of the “I” we happen to be and the social/environmental circumstances in which this “I” finds itself, rather than by any act of will? But if each of us “could not have chosen otherwise” than we have, are we no better than the machines we construct? Then again, maybe some of our more advanced machines should be considered conscious entities?
Introduction to Metaphysics: The Fundamental Questions presents these and other intriguing questions, many of which have challenged philosophers from antiquity to the present in their efforts to speculate on the nature of what is real. Often filled with twists and turns, dark corners and hidden recesses, this journey of discovery is an exciting excursion into the depths of human understanding. As guides for this intellectual journey editor Andrew Schoedinger has chosen an impressive array of creative and thought-provoking philosophers: Peter Abelard, Aristotle, Renford Bambrough, George Berkeley, Joseph Butler, Rudolf Carnap, Roderick Chisholm, R.G. Collingwood, Arthur Danto, Donald Davidson, Rene Descartes, C.J. Ducasse, Alvin I. Goldman, Keith Gunderson, David Hume, John Locke, Alasdair MacIntyre, A.I. Melden, John Stuart Mill, D.F. Pears, Hilary Putnam, Anthony Quinton, Bertrand Russell, Michael Scriven, Sydney Shoemaker, P. F. Strawson, Richard Taylor, and others.
This volume is a unique invitation to join a distinguished group of theorists as they tackle tough questions concerning the existence of universals, the nature of causation, understanding personal identity, the tangled web of free will, and the challenges posed by the advent of artificial intelligence.