Beyond Experience: Metaphysical Theories and Philosophical Constraints, Second Edition, Copyright © Norman Swartz, 2001. Available for downloading, free of charge, at

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    Further reading

Chapter One – Presenting philosophy

The Two Cultures and A Second Look, by Charles P. Snow. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1963.

One of the most acclaimed and, equally, one of the most reviled books in recent decades. Snow argues for the greater appreciation between scientists and 'literary intellectuals' of one another's accomplishments and modes of thought.

Two Cultures? by F.R. Leavis and Michael Yudkin. Pantheon Books, New York, 1963.

Two of the best known, most virulent attacks on Snow's Two Cultures. It is both sad and discouraging to read Yudkin's outrageous proclamation: "To read Dickens, or to hear Mozart, or to see a Titian can be in itself a rewarding activity; but to find out what is meant by acceleration is to gain a piece of factual information which in itself has no value" (p. 54). Inadvertently, Yudkin has provided the strongest possible illustration of precisely the ignorance and frame of mind which Snow was lamenting.

Chapter Two – The metaphysical impulse

Metaphysics (3rd ed.), by Richard Taylor. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983.

An introduction to metaphysics. Easy reading.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold S. Kushner. Avon, New York, 1983.

A discussion of the existence of natural evil. Although not a 'philosophy' book, it sets out the problem better than most philosophical texts. A recent, popular best-seller.

What Does It All Mean? – A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy, by Thomas Nagel. Oxford University Press, New York, 1987.

{page 410} Covers a number of topics not pursued in this book, e.g. 'How do we know anything?', 'other minds', 'free will', 'right and wrong', and 'justice'. Easy reading (101 pp.).

Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty, by Morris Kline. Oxford University Press, New York, 1980.

A first-rate history of mathematics which argues that modern mathematics has lost its roots in practical problems.

Chapter Three – Theories: What they are and what they are not

Conjectures and Refutations, by Karl Popper. Basic Books, New York, 1962.

An important work, by a major philosopher. The book becomes progressively more difficult. Newcomers to philosophy will want to read selectively in this volume.

Science and Subjectivity, by Israel Scheffler. Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1967.

An attempt to rebut the views of Kuhn, Feyerabend, etc., that there is neither objectivity nor truth in scientific theories.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd ed.), by Thomas Kuhn. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970.

A modern-day classic. Highly controversial attack, by a historian, on the traditional view that science is objective.

Against Method, by Paul Feyerabend. Verso, London, 1982.

In the same vein as Kuhn, but written by a philosopher.

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design, by Richard Dawkins. W.W. Norton, New York, 1987.

A defense of Darwinism against Creationism. The Appendix contains an order form for a Macintosh software program by which to 'breed' biomorphs on one's home computer. A portent of future philosophy instruction?

Chapter Four – Underdeterminism (I)

The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (2nd ed.), by E.A. Burtt. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1932.

"How curious, after all, is the way in which we moderns think about our world! And it is all so novel, too. The cosmology underlying our mental processes is but three centuries old – a mere infant in the history of {page 411} thought – and yet we cling to it with the same embarrassed zeal with which a young father fondles his new-born baby." (chapter 1)

Dilemmas, by Gilbert Ryle. Cambridge University Press, London, 1954.

Several case studies of clashes between competing philosophical theories.

The Strife of Systems: An Essay on the Grounds and Implications of Philosophical Diversity, by Nicholas Rescher. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1985.

Rescher looks at the problem of the superabundance of philosophical theories through the opposite side of the lens used in this book in chapter 4. Where I had argued that factual data underdetermine our philosophical theories, Rescher argues that our philosophical theories overdetermine their empirical base, in particular that our philosophical theories originate in self-inconsistent sets of beliefs (what Rescher calls "apories" or "aporetic clusters"). These two approaches are complementary.

Chapter Five – Underdeterminism (II)

Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant, by Steven J. Dick. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1982.

Not to be confused with David Lewis's similarly named On the Plurality of Worlds ([122]). Dick's book traces from antiquity to the eighteenth century the debate about extraterrestrial life.

The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750-1900: The Idea of a Plurality of Worlds from Kant to Lowell, by Michael J. Crowe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986.

Between this book and the immediately preceding one the entire history of the debate up to the present century is covered.

Extraterrestrials: Science and Alien Intelligence, ed. Edward Regis, Jr. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1985.

Appearances to the contrary (see preceding two items), Cambridge University Press does not have exclusive rights to this topic. This particular volume is an anthology of fourteen contemporary papers, most of which are written by philosophers. The article by Rescher contains a good bibliography and cites a more complete one.

The Search for Life in the Universe, by Donald Goldsmith and Tobias Owen. Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, Calif., 1980.

A good introduction to modern astronomy and exobiology. Probably easier reading than the three foregoing volumes.

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Chapters Six and Seven – Putting concepts under stress, (I) and (II)

Thought Probes (2nd ed.), ed. Fred D. Miller, Jr, and Nicholas D. Smith. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1989.

An introduction to philosophy through the vehicle of science fiction. Each topic is illustrated by a short science-fiction story and then followed by a discussion by a philosopher.

Chapter Eight – Space and time

The Planiverse: Computer Contact with a Two-Dimensional World, by Alexander Keewatin Dewdney. McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1984.

In the tradition of Abbott's Flatland ([1]). Updated in an ingenious fashion for a generation familiar with computers.

The Ambidextrous Universe (2nd ed.), by Martin Gardner. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1979.

The best introduction to problems of symmetry, etc.

Relativity and Its Roots, by Banesh Hoffmann. Scientific American Books, New York, 1983.

There are, gratifyingly, many good books written for the nonscientist on this important topic. Hoffmann's is among the very best.

Zeno's Paradoxes, by Wesley Salmon. Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1970. Reprinted 2001, Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis.

The best introduction, known to me, to these classical problems. This volume was out-of-print for many years, but has been reprinted.

Chapter Nine – Properties

Universals and Particulars: Readings in Ontology, ed. Michael J. Loux. Doubleday & Co., New York, 1970.

An excellent collection. Of intermediate difficulty.


Resemblance and Identity: An Examination of the Problem of Universals, by Panayot Butchvarov. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1966.

The term "identity" in the title refers not to an examination of identity per se, but to one of several different theories of the ontology of properties, viz. that instances of a property "constitute an identical quality which is present in distinct individual things at the same time" (p. 7).

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Chapters Ten and Eleven – Individuation and Identity-through-time

Mind, Man, Machine: A Dialogue, by Paul T. Sagal. Hackett, Indianapolis, 1982.

A short, eminently readable introduction to the question whether a machine could be conscious.

Thinking Machines: The Search for Artificial Intelligence, by Igor Aleksander and Piers Burnett. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1987.

A superb introduction to the present state of research in Artificial Intelligence, including both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' approaches and contemporary controversies in the field. Do not miss this book.

Are Computers Alive? – Evolution and New Life Forms, by Geoff Simons. Birkhäuser, Boston, 1983.

Simons's thesis is that "computers and robots, appropriately configured, can be properly regarded as emerging life forms" (p. ix).

What Computers Can't Do: The Limits of Artificial Intelligence (rev. ed.), by Hubert L. Dreyfus. Harper & Row, New York, 1979.

Dreyfus is one of the major critics of the claims made by researchers in Artificial Intelligence.

Mind Design: Philosophy, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, ed. John Haugeland. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1982.

Intermediate to advanced material.


Individuality – An Essay on the Foundations of Metaphysics, by Jorge J.E. Gracia. State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988.

Understanding Identity Statements, by Thomas V. Morris. Aberdeen University Press, 1984.

Identity and Individuation, ed. Milton K. Munitz. New York University Press, New York, 1971.

Chapter Twelve – Persons

A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality, by John Perry. Hackett, Indianapolis, 1978.

The best available introduction for the general reader to the problem of personal identity. In just a handful of pages, Perry introduces, and makes live, the major problems addressed by current philosophers on this topic.

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Language, Metaphysics and Death, ed. John Donnelly. Fordham University Press, New York, 1978.

An anthology of seventeen philosophical papers on death and dying. The editor provides a Bibliographical Essay. Unfortunately, the book lacks an index. Highly recommended.

The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul, ed. Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett. Bantam Books, New York, 1982.

A deservedly well-known collection of articles. Makes for fascinating reading. Highly recommended.

Personal Identity, by Sydney Shoemaker and Richard Swinburne. Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1984.

A debate waged in the medium of print. Swinburne argues that personal identity can be accounted for only in terms of soul; Shoemaker argues for personal identity in terms of psychological continuity.

The Identities of Persons, ed. Amélie Oksenberg Rorty. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1976.

An anthology of papers by several of the best-known writers on this topic in recent years. Intermediate to advanced.

Body, Mind, and Death, ed. Anthony Flew. Macmillan, New York, 1964.

A selection of major historical writings on mind, body, and consciousness, from c. 400 BC to 1960.