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on January 2, 2010
My work deals with understanding cooperation in humans. Since social interaction has a moral element, I have been ineluctably concerned with philosophical ethics. Although I studied a fair amount of philosophy in school, I did not study ethics, and I feel I have a rag-tag grounding in this aspect of modern philosophy. This is why I obtained Sober's undergrad textbook, which is really an intro to all of Western philosophy.

This book is nothing like my own introduction to philosophy, which consisted exclusively in reading excerpts from the great philosophers of the past, accompanied by the professor's lectures, which went 'way over my head. Now, my background was in math and physics, and I never read the classics in those fields (you need a dictionary to understand these old guys, and their notation was usually horrible). Sober's text is so refreshing! In each of the major areas of philosophy (he doesn't deal with logic, philosophy of science, philosopchy of mathematics, and other specialized areas) he provides a lucid overview as well as a critique of the various views and his own assessment of which is correct and which is not. I agreed with him almost 100% of the time, and I found his analysis quite cogent and lucid.

The bottom line is that this book is excellent both for beginners and those who want to brush up. It is also a great read.

Sober's treatment of ethical philosophy gets five stars for exposition, but only three for analysic and critique, in my view. I share Sober's deep appreciation for Aristotle and virtue ethics in general, the major attraction of which is its self-characterization as a set of principles for leading the good life. Virtue ethics thus avoids the utilitiarian/deontological problem: why should we be moral? For virtue ethics, moral behavior is its own reward, the main problem being (a) have the fortitute and self-discipline to behave morally, and (b) figuring out exactly what the moral thing to do is. If this view is correct (I think it is) then the ethical theories of the past few centuries, virtue ethics aside, are completely misguided. As to the content of morality, Sober correctly criticizes Aristotle for thinking that virtue is unitary, when in fact his own conceptual framework is more consonant with the view that there are many virtuous paths, and virtue is in part culturally specific.

Recently, there have been serious efforts to answer the question as to the content of morality by treating moral discourse in much the same manner as communicative discourse: there are some basic organizing principles, but basically there are many different moral discourses and our job as scientists is assess their comunalities and differences, as well as modeling how moral discourses diffuse, expand, contract, become extinct, mutate and emerge, etc. In this sense, ethical theory should be like linguistics, where the structure of valid utterances are deduced from social practice, not by the idle intuitions of professional philosophers. See, for instance, David Wong's Natural Moralities: A Defense of Pluralistic Relativism.
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on April 17, 2011
I got this book for a philosophy class, but I'm going to keep at as reference. It doesn't get in-depth into anything, but it serves as an excellent, if cursory, introduction to the field of philosophy. It doesn't get dry as no one part seems to get rambling or long, and if you use the ideas discussed in this book to have debates or real-life discussions about the philosophical issues discussed, you'll never get bored or tired of reading it.

Then again, maybe I'm just a huge nerd.

I gave it a four because at some points, it just seems to simplify certain issues or cuts off just when things are getting really interesting. I feel that a few ideas are also misrepresented in the slightest ways (or perhaps it's my fault for thinking of things differently than the author does). But this was a perfectly good read... would recommend with limited reservations to anyone interested in philosophy.
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on January 24, 2014
This was a required book for my course in Philosophy. I found it very insightful and interesting. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend this for anyone that may be wanting to look into a general overview into several main worldviews. Those having a Christian worldview may also benefit from this book as the author's worldview favors Christianity.
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on February 9, 2013
If you're buying this book for class, don't worry--it isn't that bad. Sober provides thoughtful analysis, well-rounded arguments, and a good combination of analysis and primary resources. The only complaint I have about the book stems from Sober's writing; if you're an English person, his constant use of passive voice and "to be" verbs will drive you mad. Otherwise, a very good text.
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on June 1, 2014
I know it was used, so i should have expected these things but there's highlighting on almost every page and some pencil writing in the margins that the student could've erased, so now i'm erasing them. and the corners of the book are a bit worn out. I hope I don't wear it out too much because i'd like to resell it for a decent price.
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on September 15, 2014
Makes for wonderfully expensive toilet paper, but as a book it wasn't so good. My professor only recommended we buy it so that we had something to burn for our physics experiments.
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on June 5, 2013
This book is extremely slanted towards the authors opinion. While he does explain some concepts very well, his arguments about creationism are one sided and fallacious. He states many of his opinions as fact while most of them can not be backed up by any sort of Science. If you can ignore all of the platitudes and just plain nonsense he tries to force down your throat then you may enjoy this book. Otherwise, steer clear at all cost.
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on November 14, 2014
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on August 20, 2014
Difficult to read and pretty much atheist.
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on October 14, 2010
This book makes no sense. But it does try and explain the concept it is just really confusing.
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