When graduate students start their studies, they usually have sound knowledge of some areas of philosophy, but the overall map of their knowledge is often patchy and disjointed. There are a number of topics that any contemporary philosopher working in any part of the analytic tradition (and in many parts of other traditions too) needs to grasp, and to grasp as a coherent whole rather than a rag-bag of interesting but isolated discussions. This book answers this need, by providing a overview of core topics in metaphysics and epistemology that is at once accessible and nuanced. Ten core topics are explained, and their relation to each other is clearly set out. The book emphasizes the utility of the concepts and distinctions it covers for philosophy as a whole, not just for specialist discussions in metaphysics or epistemology. The text is highly readable and may be used as the basis of a course on these topics. Recommendations for reading are included at the end of each chapter, divided into essential and further readings. The text is also suitable for people approaching philosophy from other disciplines, as an accessible primer to the central topics, concepts and distinctions that are needed to engage meaningfully in contemporary philosophical debate.
Alex Broadbent is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg. He works on causation, explanation and prediction in the philosophy of science, and is a leading authority on the philosophy of epidemiology.
Part 1: Induction 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Learning from Experience 1.3 Generalizing the Problem 1.4 Attempted Solutions 1.5 The New Riddle of Induction 1.6 Key Concepts and Distinctions 1.7 Readings 2 Similarity 2.1 Introduction 2.2 One Over Many 2.3 Sets, Properties, Kinds 2.4 Realism 2.5 Nominalism 2.6 Key Concepts and Distinctions 2.7 Readings Part 3: Causation 3.1 Introduction 3.2 From Induction to Causation 3.3 What Is Causation? 3.4 Regularities 3.5 Counterfactuals 3.6 Deeper Questions 3.7 Different Questions 3.8 Taking Stock 3.9 Key Concepts and Distinctions 3.10 Readings Part 4: Laws of Nature 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Regularities 4.3 Sophisticated Regularity Views 4.4 Necessitation 4.5 Where Does This Leave Us? 4.6 Key Concepts and Distinctions 4.7 Readings Part 5: Meaning and Experience 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Verificationism 5.3 Difficulties for the Verification Principle 5.4 Analyticity 5.5 Does Quine Go Too Far? 5.6 Key Concepts and Distinctions 5.7 Readings Part 6: Reference 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Russell's Theory of Descriptions 6.3 Rigid Designation and Semantic Externalism 6.4 Global Descriptivism 6.5 Key Concepts and Distinctions 6.6 Readings Part 7: Truth 7.1 Introduction 7.2 Correspondence 7.3 Coherence and Pragmatism 7.4 Semantic Theories and Deflationism 7.5 Truth and Relativism 7.6 Key Concepts and Distinctions 7.7 Readings Part 8: Mind 8.1 Introduction 8.2 Substance Dualism 8.3 The Problem of Interaction 8.4 Property Dualism 8.5 Objections to the Knowledge Argument 8.6 Mental Causation and Epiphenomenalism 8.7 The Identity Thesis 8.8 Behaviorism and Functionalism 8.9 Key Concepts and Distinctions 8.10 Readings Part 9: Knowledge 9.1 Introduction 9.2 Skepticism 9.3 The Justificatory Project: Refuting Skepticism 9.4 The Descriptive Project 9.5 Gettier Cases 9.6 Externalism 9.7 Other Topics 9.8 Key Concepts and Distinctions 9.9 Readings Part10: Philosophical Methods 10.1 Introduction 10.2 Argument 10.3 Conceptual Analysis 10.4 Intuition and Thought Experiment 10.5 Reflective Equilibrium and Cost-Benefit Analysis 10.6 Discovering Truths 10.7 What Is Philosophy? 10.8 Key Concepts and Distinctions 10.9 Readings