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Paradoxes Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0521720793 ISBN-10: 0521720796 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3rd edition (March 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521720796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521720793
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #566,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'An engaging and accessible guide through some of the deepest conceptual labyrinths we know. Sainsbury encourages the reader to think with him, always asking questions and pointing out roads not taken. This is the first place I send students who have become puzzled by the liar paradox or the paradox of the heap.' John McFarlane, University of California, Berkeley

Book Description

The expanded and revised third edition of this intriguing book considers a range of knotty paradoxes including paradoxes about morals, paradoxes about belief, and hardest of all, paradoxes about truth. It is not only an explanation of paradoxes but also an excellent introduction to philosophical thinking.

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There are a good deal of what ifs in this book.
Jenny Mcclendon
I read this book and William Poundstone's "Labyrinths of Reason" at about the same time and found each to compliment the other very nicely.
Fred Adrissi
I heartily recommend this book to the mathematician, scientifically inclined or even those just interested in philosophy.
Steve Reina

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on December 12, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philosophy begins in wonderment. Sometimes it ends there, too.
Good paradoxes aren't just for entertainment (although they _are_ vastly entertaining; check out any of Raymond Smullyan's books for proof of that assertion). Each of them opens a door to all sorts of fascinating issues of tremendous philosophical importance.
Mark Sainsbury's fine introduction, in its heavily revised second edition, is a set of keys to those doors. For example, his discussion of Zeno's famous paradoxes doesn't just inform the lay reader what they are; it explains why they're important even today: because they call into question whether the now-standard mathematical analyses of the paradoxes adequately capture our ordinary understanding of space. That is, the paradoxes can be resolved in the ideal space of mathematicians, but that doesn't _necessarily_ mean they can be resolved in the space in which we really live.
In difficulty, the exposition is about one notch higher than in William Poundstone's _Labyrinths of Reason_, so you may want to read Poundstone first if you're new to this subject altogether. But do get around to this one. It's a solid account, from a more or less "analytic" outlook (though that term probably suffers from all the "vagueness" problems discussed in Sainsbury's second chapter).
Sainsbury will also introduce some topics Poundstone doesn't cover -- notably, and perhaps most interestingly, Graham Priest's "dialethism" -- a logic in which, Priest claims, it's possible for some contradictions to be true[!]. Sainsbury doesn't agree but nevertheless concludes that he doesn't have a knockdown argument against it. (Be aware that Sainsbury's account has been criticized by other philosophers, including Priest. Follow up with Priest's own books if you get interested in this subject.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fred Adrissi on July 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book and William Poundstone's "Labyrinths of Reason" at about the same time and found each to compliment the other very nicely. I strongly recommend reading Poundstone first, especially if you're like me and have very little or no formal training in logic. The two books cover much the same territory but in different ways. Poundstone is the better writer and does a wonderful job explaining the paradoxes and their interesting implications. Sainsbury is also a very good writer. His presentation is more matter-of-fact and rigorous though never overly technical. Sainsbury's chapters on the paradoxes of Zeno, Newcomb, Hempel, and Goodman are outstanding - extremely interesting, insightful, and fun. The going starts to get a bit rough in Chapter 5 with the Liar Paradox. Sainsbury digs into this paradox that at first seems simple but turns out to be perhaps the most difficult of all. This chapter occasionally threatens to degenerate into the sort of tedious detail and terminology that makes so many college logic courses so dreadfully awful but fortunately this never happens. The final chapter is also a challenge but one worth tackling: I suggest ibuprofen for the headache you'll get trying to understand why, to a logician, the three statements "This sentence if false" and "This sentence is not true" and "This sentence is untrue" are apparently three entirely different things! Even if it all doesn't stick the first time through, the great thing is that you'll find yourself thinking about things just a little bit differently.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
If you want to learn or teach about Logical Paradoxes, this is the book you must raed. I have read many books on this topic, and to my opinion, this book is the best. The paradoxes and their solution (or dissolutions) are presented very clearly.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
While the topic of the book is paradoxes, this book can easily be used for a 20th century analytic metaphysics course. Sainsbury is easy to understand and lays out the various issues clearly and concisely. My only problem with the book is his last chapter on dialetheism. His exposition is clear, but it is not as accurate as it could be. Anyone reading this chapter would be advised to read some of Priest's original works, and Priest's response to Sainsbury given to the Aristotelian Society.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is required reading for U London Logic course in the BA Philosophy. It makes for easyt reading and covers most of the basics of paradoxes. I recommend it as a good first look at the subject.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Epops on April 17, 2005
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As a beginner in the study of philosophy, I have frequently read that the study of paradoxes is a waste of time, that paradoxes add little to the appreciation of philosophy as a whole. Perhaps that's true. Prof. Sainsbury in his introduction even warns us that the study of paradoxes is said to have led to the premature death of Philetas of Cos back in the old days.

I made the mistake of thinking that as a beginning student of philosophy I would be capable of fully appreciating this book and absorbing its contents. In fact, I am not, and could not. However, I can say without hesitation that it wasn't Professor Sainsbury's fault. He writes very clearly and without affectation, presenting the material as well as anyone could. Perhaps he makes some errors in his analysis of the paradoxes, but others will have to judge that, not I.

In addition to the "fun" of paradoxes, he also relates them to more general problems of philosophy, which I was better able to absorb. For example, in discussing Newcomb's paradox and rational behavior, he has this to say:

"A clear perception of the advantages of being a one-boxer cannot give you a REASON for becoming one - even if that were in your power. Atheists might clearly perceive the comfort to be derived from theism, but this does not give them a REASON for believing that God exists. The light of reason cannot direct one toward what one perceives as irrational. To adopt a position one regards as irrational one needs to rely on something other than reason: drugs, fasting, chanting, dancing, or whatever."

This is one of the better and more succinct descriptions of the relationship between reason and religious belief that I have read, even though I don't completely agree with it.
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