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Philosophical Explanations


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Table of Contents

Introduction Coercive Philosophy Philosophical Explanations Status of the Hypotheses Explanation versus Proof Philosophical Pluralism METAPHYSICS 1. The Identity of the Self I. Personal Identity Through Time The Closest Continuer Theory The Theory Applied Overlap Structuring Philosophical Concepts Problem Cases Ties and Caring II. Reflexivity Reflexive Self-Reference Essence as a Self How is Reflexive Self-Knowledge Possible? Classification and Entification Self-Synthesis What Synthesis Explains Unities and Wholes The Self-Conception of the Self Reflexive Caring An Ontologically Solid Self? 2. Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? Explaining Everything Inegalitarian Theories Egalitarianism Fecundity Fecundity and Self-Subsumption Ultimacy The Principle of Sufficient Reason How Are Laws Possible? Beyond Mystical Experience EPISTEMOLOGY 3. Knowledge and Skepticism I. Knowledge Conditions for Knowledge Ways and Methods Knowledge of Necessities Cases and Complications II. Skepticism Skeptical Possibilities Skeptical Results Nonclosure Skepticism and the Conditions for Knowledge Narrower Skepticisms Details of Nonclosure Proof and the Transmission of Knowledge Skepticism Revisited Knowing That One Knows III. Evidence The Evidential Connection Evidence Based on Probability Inference Based on Probability The Contingency of the Evidential Tie Is There Evidence for Skepticism? Knowledge, Evidence, and Justification Evidence for the Evidential Relation How the Regress Stops Knowing Inside Out What's So Special about Knowledge? VALUE 4. Free Will I. Choice and Indeterminism Weigh(t)ing Reasons Nonrandom Weighting Understanding and Explaining Free Choices Could One Have Bestowed Otherwise? Why Free Will, and How Is Free Will Valuable? II. Deteminism and Aligning with Value Tracking Bestness How the Tracking Is Mediated How Illuminating Is the Parallel? Does Neurophysiological Reduction Undercut Tracking? Does Sociobiology Undercut Tracking? Acts in Equilibrium Self-choosing III. Retributive Punishment A Framework for Retribution A Rationale Is Needed Retribution and Revenge The Message of Retribution Connecting with Correct Values The Act Requirement Flouting Correct Values Retributive Contours More on the r x H Structure Offenders and the Law Determinism and Punishment 5. Foundations of Ethics I. Ethical Push Glaucon's Challenge Inconsistency and Motivation The Moral Benefit Leading the Most Valuable Life Intrinsic Value Degree of Organic Unity Value as Degree of Organic Unity The Structure of Value Conditions on Value and Disvalue The Allure of Value Explaining the Role of Organic Unity Designing Value Pluralism and Creativity II. Ethical Pull The Moral Basis Seeking Value Blocking Moral Avoidance Moral Responsiveness Responding and Anti-Responding Responsive Interaction and Moral Principles III. The Structure of Ethical Pull Moral Complications and Moral Structures The Simple Balancing Structure Judgment in Ethics The Complex Structure: Alternative Actions Measurement of Moral Weight The Complex Structure: Larger Courses of Action Deontology and Teleology Rights IV. The Life of Value Self-Improvement Harmonious Hierarchical Development Developing Self and Others Flourishing The Value of Valuers Treating in Accordance with Value Responsive Connection to Reality Parity of Push and Pull Does Push Cover Pull? V. Fact and Value Chasms Ethical Explanation and Self-Subsumption Kantian Structuring VI. The Basis of Value The Euthyphro Question Nihilism, Realism, Idealism, Romanticism, and Realizationism Choosing That There Be Value The Relationship Between Fact and Value 6. Philosophy and the Meaning of Life Modes of Meaning(fulness) Death Traces God's Plan Transcending Limits The Unlimited Meaning and Value Philosophy as Part of the Humanities Reductionism Nonreductive Understanding Philosophy as an Art Form Notes

About the Author

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


An important book... [Nozick is] a philosopher who is answering the questions posed by such philosophers as Kierkegaard, Sartre, Marcel and Buber with the aid of tools produced by such very different philosophers as W. V. Quine, Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam... [He displays a] striking and imaginative originality. For he does nothing less than propose a new way of doing philosophy... Perhaps one good way for the serious general reader to attack this often difficult but always rewarding book would be to begin at the end. First read the fine last chapter on 'Philosophy and the Meaning of Life'... It should then be very clear why it is important for you, whoever you are, to go back and read the rest of this book. -- Alasdair MacIntyre * New York Times Book Review *
Toward the end of his talented, diverse...book, Robert Nozick embraces the idea of philosophy as an art form, and of the philosopher as a literary creator who works with ideas... [This book] is as brilliant and exciting as anything in contemporary philosophy. -- Bernard Williams * New York Review of Books *
[Nozick is] a theorist with a style and method of his own, and ideas as bold as they are bright. -- Maurice Cranston * Washington Post Book World *
[This] remarkable new book...brings a reader into immediate and unmistakable contact with an uncommon mind. The clarity of [Nozick's] style mirrors the lucidity of his thought... This is a major book. -- Robert Taylor * Boston Globe *
[Philosophical Explanations] will attract intelligent people of all backgrounds... Nozick is moved by a splendid passion... His arguments link his explanations to what he is rightly confident of...his vision of a persistent role for philosophy in common life. -- Ian Hacking * New Republic *
It is not surprising that Nozick has a following. He does not come at the reader with heavy solemnity. His prose style is insouciant, his manner whimsical, and he gives every indication of having lots of fun. * Fortune *

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