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Realism Regained: An Exact Theory of Teleology, Causation, and the Mind

Robert C. Koons

Oxford University Press, (Hardcover Edition), 349 pages, 2000

Item# B083
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ISBN: 0195135679

Let us say right off the bat, if you are looking for an easy read on philosophy and causation, this is the wrong book for you. On the other hand, if what you are after is an in-depth discussion on Philosophy's relationship to Causation, and its metaphysical applications, Realism Regained will reward your curiosity and dedication to the subject.

In his introduction, Robert Koons states that physicists are currently searching for a "theory of everything", however the theory they seek, according to Koons, has nothing to say about mental phenomena. Thus, he describes his book as a work in "real, honest-to-God, no-apologies-given metaphysics, but metaphysics conducted in a thoroughly scientific spirit."

In this wide-ranging philosophical work, Koons takes on two powerful dogmas--anti-realism and materialism. In doing so, Koons develops an efficient metaphysical system that accounts for such phenomena as information, mental representation, our knowledge of logic, mathematics and science, the structure of spacetime, the identity of physical objects, and the objectivity of values and moral norms.

Koons constructs a non-Humean theory of causation which sheds light on recent causal theories in epistemology and the philosophy of mind. In the process, he develops a parsimonious metaphysical theory, which accounts for such phenomena as: information, teleology and biological function, mental representation, qualia and mental causation, our knowledge of logic, mathematics and science, the structure of spacetime, the identity of physical objects, and the objectivity of values and moral norms.

Realism Regained offers a broadly "naturalistic" account of norms, building upon and refining the teleological theories of Dretske, Stampe, Millikan and others. However, Koons argues against a narrowly materialistic view, providing seven independent lines of argument for the existence of non-physical facts, in particular, facts of logical, mathematical and natural necessity.

"From the point of view of general philosophy, an exciting feature of Realism Regained is that the logical developments are applied to a range of philosophical problems, resulting in a book with a wide sweep: it is synoptic, systematic and advances many novel and challenging theses. These are connected through causation and teleology: the early logical chapters provide a theory of causation in a formal setting. A notable feature of the account of causation is that it makes room for timeless and non-spatial entities, like modal facts, to be causes; and the later chapters apply this to a succession of topics."
- Mark Sainsbury, King's College, London.

"Realism Regained is a really important achievement on a grand scale. Throughout the book one finds promising new ideas and new ways of making old ideas more precise."
- Timothy Willimason, Edinburgh University

"Realism Regained stands out as the first extended work to make use of the account of causation coming out of situation theory. This realist account of causation and the account of information and function built on it are quite novel but based on solid technical foundations. This book is a 'theory of everything.' It covers a huge range of issues but in each case shows how the formal theory of functions underlies the particular approach taken. It will grab attention and has the combination of formal details and philosophical argumentation to raise interest and discussion from several directions."
- Bernard Linsky, University of Alberta

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

I A Theory of Causation and Information
2. Toward a United Theory of Causation
3. Situation Theory and Causation
4. A Deterministic Model
5. An Indeterministic Model
6. A Probabilistic Model of Causation
7. Higher-Order Causation: Modal & Causal Facts as Causes
8. The Universality of Causation
9. A Theory of Information and Misinformation
10. A Look Back, and Ahead

II Applications to Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics
11. An Overview
12. Teleology as Higher-Order Causation
13. Causal Theories of Mental Content
14. Teleosemantics of Mental Representations
15. A Causal Theory of Logical and Mathematical Cognition
16. A Teleological Theory of the Mind
17. Teleological Reliabilism
18. Enduring Substances and Their Identities
19. Eudaemonism and the Objectivity of Value
20. Moral Theory as the Teleology of Character

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