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Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Excerpts from Robert Nozick's Invariances Necessary truths are invariant across all possible worlds, contingent ones across only some. No wonder necessity lures philosophers. It is the flame, the philosopher the moth. Our intuitions that certain statements are necessary do not powerfully support this claim when natural selection would produce strong intuitions of their self-evidence, even were these statements (only) contingently true. Contemporary philosophers who give great weight to intuitions need to offer some account of why such intuitions are reliable and are to be trusted. Of course, if the purpose of such philosophy is merely to codify and systematize the intuitions that (for whatever reason) are held, then a philosophy built upon intuitions will need no further basis. And it will have no further validity. You might think that an insight into metaphysical impossibility could save the physicists much useless work by thereby excluding something as physically possible. Things seem to have worked in the opposite direction, though. Driven by a need to explain strange data, physicists formulate theories that countenance what previously was held to be metaphysically impossible. . . The physical tail wags the metaphysical dog. Why is there an objective world? Within evolutionary cosmology scientific laws might be viewed as the heritable structure of a universe, akin to what in biology would be an organism's genetic endowment. . . Suppose that the reproductive process of a universe produces transformed offspring universes that differ from their parent. The greater the transformations that a law is invariant under, and the wider their number, the greater is that law's heritability. The vast majority of the universes that exist through the processes of evolutionary cosmology, therefore, will exhibit laws that are invariant under a wide range of significant transformations. Such invariance, we have seen, is exactly what constitutes objectiveness. Evolutionary cosmology gives us objective worlds.

Synopsis:

Recent scientific advances have placed many traditional philosophical concepts under great stress. In this pathbreaking book, the eminent philosopher Robert Nozick rethinks and transforms the concepts of truth, objectivity, necessity, contingency, consciousness, and ethics. Using an original method, he presents bold new philosophical theories that take account of scientific advances in physics, evolutionary biology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience, and casts current cultural controversies (such as whether all truth is relative and whether ethics is objective) in a wholly new light. Throughout, the book is open to, and engages in, the bold exploration of new philosophical possibilities.

Philosophy will never look the same. Truth is embedded in space-time and is relative to it. However, truth is not socially relative among human beings (extraterrestrials are another matter). Objective facts are invariant under specified transformations; objective beliefs are arrived at by a process in which biasing factors do not play a significant role. Necessity's domain is contracted (there are no important metaphysical necessities; water is not necessarily H2O) while the important and useful notion of degrees of contingency is elaborated. Gradations of consciousness (based upon "common registering") yield increasing capacity to fit actions to the world. The originating function of ethics is cooperation to mutual benefit, and evolution has instilled within humans a "normative module": the capacities to learn, internalize, follow norms, and make evaluations. Ethics has normative force because of the connection between ethics and conscious self-awareness. Nozick brings together the book's novel theories to show the extent to which there are objective ethical truths.

Synopsis:

Recent scientific advances have placed many traditional philosophical concepts under great stress. In this pathbreaking book, the eminent philosopher Robert Nozick rethinks and transforms the concepts of truth, objectivity, necessity, contingency, consciousness, and ethics. Using an original method, he presents bold new philosophical theories that take account of scientific advances in physics, evolutionary biology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience, and casts current cultural controversies (such as whether all truth is relative and whether ethics is objective) in a wholly new light. Throughout, the book is open to, and engages in, the bold exploration of new philosophical possibilities.

Philosophy will never look the same. Truth is embedded in space-time and is relative to it. However, truth is not socially relative among human beings (extraterrestrials are another matter). Objective facts are invariant under specified transformations; objective beliefs are arrived at by a process in which biasing factors do not play a significant role. Necessity's domain is contracted (there are no important metaphysical necessities; water is not necessarily H2O) while the important and useful notion of degrees of contingency is elaborated. Gradations of consciousness (based upon "common registering") yield increasing capacity to fit actions to the world. The originating function of ethics is cooperation to mutual benefit, and evolution has instilled within humans a "normative module": the capacities to learn, internalize, follow norms, and make evaluations. Ethics has normative force because of the connection between ethics and conscious self-awareness. Nozick brings together the book's novel theories to show the extent to which there are objective ethical truths.

About the Author

Robert Nozick was Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University. His book Anarchy, State, and Utopia received a National Book Award.

Table of Contents

Introduction: On Philosophical Method

I. THE STRUCTURE OF THE OBJECTIVE WORLD

1. Truth and Relativism

Is Truth Relative?

Who Wants Relativism?

Truth in Space and Time

The Truth Property

Is a Theory of Truth Possible?

Is Truth Socially Relative?

Does Relativism Undercut Itself?

The Correspondence Theory

2. Invariance and Objectivity

Objective Facts

Admissible Transformations

Two Types of Philosophical Account

The Ordering of Objectiveness

Intersubjectivity

Objective Beliefs and Biasing Factors

Dimensions of Truth

The Objectivity of Science

The Functional View

Underdetermination of Theory

Rationality, Progress, Objectivity, and Veridicality

3. Necessity and Contingency

Epistemology of Necessity

Cross-Classifications

On the Supposed Necessity of Water's Being H2O

The Withering of Metaphysical Necessity

Explaining Away Necessities

Logical and Mathematical Necessity

Degrees of Contingency

The Nature of Actuality

The Ultimate Theory of the World

II. THE HUMAN WORLD AS PART OF THE OBJECTIVE WORLD

4. The Realm of Consciousness

The Function of Consciousness

Gradations of Awareness

The Context of Consciousness

The Zoom-Lens Theory

Synthesizing and Filtering Data

Common Knowledge

The Functions of Phenomenology

Mind-Body Relations

5. The Genealogy of Ethics

The Theory of Ethics

The Ubiquity of Ethics

Coordination to Mutual Benefit

Coordination via Ethical Norms

The Evaluation of Systems of Coordination

The Core Principle of Ethics

Normative Force and the Normativity Module

Evaluative Capacities

Higher Layers of Ethics

Ethical Truth and Ethical Objectivity

The Unpredictability of Human Behavior

Ethics and Conscious Self-Awareness

Notes

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674006317
Subtitle:
The Structure of the Objective World
Author:
Nozick, Robert
Publisher:
Belknap Press
Location:
Cambridge, Mass.
Subject:
Ethics
Subject:
Metaphysics
Subject:
Relativity
Subject:
Truth
Subject:
Objectivity
Subject:
General Philosophy
Subject:
Philosophy : General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
3326
Publication Date:
October 2001
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.125 in

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Related Subjects

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Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World Used Hardcover
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Product details 432 pages Belknap Press - English 9780674006317 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Recent scientific advances have placed many traditional philosophical concepts under great stress. In this pathbreaking book, the eminent philosopher Robert Nozick rethinks and transforms the concepts of truth, objectivity, necessity, contingency, consciousness, and ethics. Using an original method, he presents bold new philosophical theories that take account of scientific advances in physics, evolutionary biology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience, and casts current cultural controversies (such as whether all truth is relative and whether ethics is objective) in a wholly new light. Throughout, the book is open to, and engages in, the bold exploration of new philosophical possibilities.

Philosophy will never look the same. Truth is embedded in space-time and is relative to it. However, truth is not socially relative among human beings (extraterrestrials are another matter). Objective facts are invariant under specified transformations; objective beliefs are arrived at by a process in which biasing factors do not play a significant role. Necessity's domain is contracted (there are no important metaphysical necessities; water is not necessarily H2O) while the important and useful notion of degrees of contingency is elaborated. Gradations of consciousness (based upon "common registering") yield increasing capacity to fit actions to the world. The originating function of ethics is cooperation to mutual benefit, and evolution has instilled within humans a "normative module": the capacities to learn, internalize, follow norms, and make evaluations. Ethics has normative force because of the connection between ethics and conscious self-awareness. Nozick brings together the book's novel theories to show the extent to which there are objective ethical truths.

"Synopsis" by , Recent scientific advances have placed many traditional philosophical concepts under great stress. In this pathbreaking book, the eminent philosopher Robert Nozick rethinks and transforms the concepts of truth, objectivity, necessity, contingency, consciousness, and ethics. Using an original method, he presents bold new philosophical theories that take account of scientific advances in physics, evolutionary biology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience, and casts current cultural controversies (such as whether all truth is relative and whether ethics is objective) in a wholly new light. Throughout, the book is open to, and engages in, the bold exploration of new philosophical possibilities.

Philosophy will never look the same. Truth is embedded in space-time and is relative to it. However, truth is not socially relative among human beings (extraterrestrials are another matter). Objective facts are invariant under specified transformations; objective beliefs are arrived at by a process in which biasing factors do not play a significant role. Necessity's domain is contracted (there are no important metaphysical necessities; water is not necessarily H2O) while the important and useful notion of degrees of contingency is elaborated. Gradations of consciousness (based upon "common registering") yield increasing capacity to fit actions to the world. The originating function of ethics is cooperation to mutual benefit, and evolution has instilled within humans a "normative module": the capacities to learn, internalize, follow norms, and make evaluations. Ethics has normative force because of the connection between ethics and conscious self-awareness. Nozick brings together the book's novel theories to show the extent to which there are objective ethical truths.

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