Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings by John Perry, Michael Bratman, and John Fischer is an anthology of philosophy which spans thinkers from many ages. The work covers Plato, as well as modern philosophers and writers, such as, Bertrand Russell, noted for his enhancements to the area of logic.
The contents of the anthology include famous essays on existentialism, free will, consciousness, puzzles and paradoxes, the mind-body problem, and contrasts between good and evil. Bertrand Russell’s statements on “Why I Am Not A Christian” include arguments which involve trying to rationalize the beginnings of God. Russell goes on to decry the fact that great evil can occur without divine intervention.
Russell sets forth the statement that since justice does not rule everywhere, there is a moral argument against deity and not in favor of it. Russell’s arguments beg the fact that people have an inherent free will whether or not it is God given or an outgrowth of nature itself. Free will by definition means that people can choose between right and wrong. If a deity made choices for people, then free will would not exist as a driver of the conscience.
Also, if a God did exist, the actions of people could not be evaluated unless free will was a part of the human engineering. Once God begins to make choices for people, then free will is no longer present and there can be no such thing as sin. The idea of sin comes about because people make choices – not God.
Russell makes a better case in “The Argument from Anthology for Other Minds”. He points out the observations people make from their own experiences in evaluating cause and effect. Yet, he recognizes the fallacy of extending our own validation of experiences beyond ourselves to other people.
John R. Searle provides a very unique interpretation of artificial intelligence (AI) in “Minds, Brains and Programs”. He explains the difference between strong AI and weak AI. In weak AI, the computer is merely a tool. In strong AI, the computer has cognitive states such that the programs themselves are in fact explanations.
Introduction to Philosophy – Classical and Contemporary Readings by John Perry, Michael Bratman, and John Fischer is an excellent work which contains classic essays by noted philosophers and thinkers. These essays pose questions which have been on the minds of people for ages. Many of the arguments in this work have great relevance right now.