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Michael O'Rourke

Michael O’Rourke is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University.

Titles by This Editor

These fifteen original essays address the core semantic concepts of reference and referring from both philosophical and linguistic perspectives. After an introductory essay that casts current trends in reference and referring in terms of an ongoing dialogue between Fregean and Russellian approaches, the book addresses specific topics, balanc
ing breadth of coverage with thematic unity.

Philosophy, Science, and Ethics

Philosophical reflections on the environment began with early philosophers’ invocation of a cosmology that mixed natural and supernatural phenomena. Today, the central philosophical problem posed by the environment involves not what it can teach us about ourselves and our place in the cosmic order but rather how we can understand its workings in order to make better decisions about our own conduct regarding it. The resulting inquiry spans different areas of contemporary philosophy, many of which are represented by the fifteen original essays in this volume.

Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science

Contemporary discussions of the success of science often invoke an ancient metaphor from Plato's Phaedrus: successful theories should "carve nature at its joints." But is nature really "jointed"? Are there natural kinds of things around which our theories cut? The essays in this volume offer reflections by a distinguished group of philosophers on a series of intertwined issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of classification.

Most philosophical explorations of responsibility discuss the topic solely in terms of metaphysics and the "free will" problem. By contrast, these essays by leading philosophers view responsibility from a variety of perspectives—metaphysics, ethics, action theory, and the philosophy of law.

There are two main questions in epistemology: What is knowledge? And: Do we have any of it? The first question asks after the nature of a concept; the second involves grappling with the skeptic, who believes that no one knows anything. This collection of original essays addresses the themes of knowledge and skepticism, offering both contemporary epistemological analysis and historical perspectives from leading philosophers and rising scholars.

The concepts of time and identity seem at once unproblematic and frustratingly difficult. Time is an intricate part of our experience—it would seem that the passage of time is a prerequisite for having any experience at all—and yet recalcitrant questions about time remain. Is time real? Does time flow? Do past and future moments exist? Philosophers face similarly stubborn questions about identity, particularly about the persistence of identical entities through change.

Essays on the Philosophy of John Perry

John Perry, Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, is one of a handful of contemporary analytic philosophers to combine the focused approach of most current work in analytic philosophy with the more expansive systems-building of earlier analytic philosophers and contemporary philosophers in other disciplines. Perry, like W.V.O. Quine, Donald Davison, David Lewis, and Hilary Putnam, focuses on narrow topics across a broad range of subjects.

This collection of original essays on the topics of causation and explanation offers readers a state-of-the-art view of current work in these areas. The book is notable for its interdisciplinary character, and the essays, by distinguished authors and important rising scholars, will be of interest to a wide readership, including philosophers, computer scientists, and economists.

These essays by leading scholars illustrate the complexity and range of philosophical issues raised by consideration of law and social justice. The contributors to Law and Social Justice examine such broad foundational issues as instrumentalist versus Kantian conceptions of rights as well as such specific problems as the admissibility or inadmissibility of evidence of causation in toxic tort cases.

This collection of contemporary essays by prominent contemporary thinkers on the topics of determinism and free agency concentrates primarily on two areas: the compatibility problem and the metaphysics of moral responsibility. There are also essays on the related fields of determinism and action theory. The book is unique in that it contains up-to-date summaries of the life-work of five influential philosophers: John Earman, Ted Honderich, Keith Lehrer, Robert Kane, and Peter van Inwagen.