Philosophy and scientific realism

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To begin with, Smart argues that philosophy ought to be something more than the art of clarifying thought and diagnosing nonsense, and that it should concern itself with the adumbration of a scientifically plausible world view. Early chapters deal with phenomenalism and the reality of theoretical entities, and with the relation between the physical and biological sciences. The question of the secondary qualities, such as colour, is then taken up, and a materialistic theory of consciousness is put forward. A further chapter defends the view of man as a physical mechanism, and is largely concerned with questions about problem solving and about free will. The next chapter discusses some relevant issues about space and time. The final chapter is on the place of man in nature, and whether the world view of the book has any implications for ethics. A major concern of Smart’s is to clear away a concealed anthropocentricity which the author believes to vitiate much philosophical and common sense thought.– I. «The province of philosophy»; – II. «Physical objects and physical theories»; – III. «Physics and biology»; – IV. «The secondary qualities»; – V. «Consciousness»; – VI. «Man as a physical mechanism»; – VII. «The space-time world»; – VIII. «Man and nature». M.-M. V.