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Metaphysical Issues

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The branch of the philosophy tree that deals with the issues of the nature of being and existence is Metaphysics.

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Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the fundamental nature of being and existence. Metaphysics generally deals with two issues: the nature of reality and what is or what can be ultimate reality. Metaphysics is divided into three parts: ontology, natural theology, and universal science. Ontology is the study of being and existence. Ontology defines and classifies entities, physical or mental, the nature of their properties, and the nature of change. Natural theology, on the other hand, is the investigation of God (or Gods) including the nature of religion, the existence of a divine being, and questions concerning creation. Universal science studies fundamental principles of things.

Much like epistemology, rationalist metaphysicians seek to ...

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A concise explanation of metaphysics and the issues of the nature of being and existence.

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Star Trek/Metaphysics

Any ideas or thoughts on this would be appreciated. I've read the textbook and am just overwhelmed with all the information. I'm just not sure how to get started.

Science fiction literature often raises philosophical issues and is a great source for philosophical speculation. This is especially true for the mind/body problem. For example, it is common in science fiction literature to encounter androids. An android is a robot which resembles a human being in appearance and behavior. Examples of androids in science fiction books, television programs or films are numerous (Star Trek, Star Wars, Aleins, Terminator, A.I., I Robot, etc.). In reality many computer scientists are currently working in the area of "artificial intelligence" or machines that can "think for themselves." Many computer scientists believe this is the first step in creating these androids of the future and that in time the distinction between man and machine will be practically erased. These scientists speculate that androids with super-computer brains will have thoughts, beliefs, feelings and desires just like humans. Therefore, some argue, they will also have the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges that all humans have and should be treated as thus. Do you see problems with this view of the future? Do you think machines can ever become persons?

In order to explore this question, let us consider an episode of the popular television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. I have provided a synopsis.

After reading the synopsis write a substantive response. As you consider your response keep the following questions in mind:

Do you think that artificial intelligence to the level as it is presented in the story will someday be possible? Why or why not?

If AI does become possible, will we have obligations to treat machines "ethically?" Will they have rights? Will turning them off, as Riker does to Data, constitute murder?

What view of the mind/body problem do you think is exhibited by Picard? By Maddox?

Do you think Maddox is right when he claims that Picard is being "irrational and emotional" in his view of Data?

Do you think Picard's argument about slavery is ultimately valid? Why or why not?

Do you agree with the JAG officers final ruling. Why or why not?

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