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Consciousness

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A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

In Matter and Consciousness, Paul Churchland clearly presents the advantages and disadvantages of such difficult issues in philosophy of mind as behaviorism, reductive materialism, functionalism, and eliminative materialism. This new edition incorporates the striking developments that have taken place in neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence and notes their expanding relevance to philosophical issues.

Churchland organizes and clarifies the new theoretical and experimental results of the natural sciences for a wider philosophical audience, observing that this research bears directly on questions concerning the basic elements of cognitive activity and their implementation in real physical systems. (How is it, he asks, that living creatures perform some cognitive tasks so swiftly and easily, where computers do them only badly or not at all?) Most significant for philosophy, Churchland asserts, is the support these results tend to give to the reductive and the eliminative versions of materialism.

A Bradford Book.

The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting

Anyone who has wondered if free will is just an illusion or has asked 'could I have chosen otherwise?' after performing some rash deed will find this book an absorbing discussion of an endlessly fascinating subject. Daniel Dennett, whose previous books include Brainstorms and (with Douglas Hofstadter) The Mind's I, tackles the free will problem in a highly original and witty manner, drawing on the theories and concepts of several fields usually ignored by philosophers; not just physics and evolutionary biology, but engineering, automata theory, and artificial intelligence.

In Elbow Room, Dennett shows how the classical formulations of the problem in philosophy depend on misuses of imagination, and he disentangles the philosophical problems of real interest from the "family of anxieties' they get enmeshed in - imaginary agents, bogeymen, and dire prospects that seem to threaten our freedom. Putting sociobiology in its rightful place, he concludes that we can have free will and science too. Elbow Room begins by showing how we can be "moved by reasons" without being exempt from physical causation. It goes on to analyze concepts of control and self-control-concepts often skimped by philosophers but which are central to the questions of free will and determinism. A chapter on "self-made selves" discusses the idea of self or agent to see how it can be kept from disappearing under the onslaught of science. Dennett then sees what can be made of the notion of acting under the idea of freedomdoes the elbow room we think we have really exist? What is an opportunity, and how can anything in our futures be "up to us"? He investigates the meaning of "can" and "could have done otherwise," and asks why we want free will in the first place.We are wise, Dennett notes, to want free will, but that in itself raises a host of questions about responsibility. In a final chapter, he takes up the problem of how anyone can ever be guilty, and what the rationale is for holding people responsible and even, on occasion, punishing them.

Elbow Room is an expanded version of the John Locke Lectures which Dennett gave at Oxford University in 1983.

Cognitive Science and Human Experience

The Embodied Mind provides a unique, sophisticated treatment of the spontaneous and reflective dimension of human experience. The authors argue that only by having a sense of common ground between mind in Science and mind in experience can our understanding of cognition be more complete. Toward that end, they develop a dialogue between cognitive science and Buddhist meditative psychology and situate it in relation to other traditions such as phenomenology and psychoanalysis.

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