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Book Review: Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings by John Perry, Michael Bratman, and John Fischer

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.

About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.