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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2011
I've been reading philosophy for about 6 years now, and in many cases I would have to modify that verb with "valiantly trying to". I could probably count on one hand the number of times that, coming across an unfamiliar term or concept, one of my three philosophy dictionaries has clarified the issue for me and allowed me to continue with the text with the same level of confidence I had had before I came across the term.

Take for example Kant's analytic/synthetic. The dictionary will tell you what it means. But you still might not understand it. Either the dictionary defines it using other terms and references you don't understand, sending you winding through scores of other entries on a goose chase and only ending up with a web of interconnected ideas floating somewhere above the current state of your understanding and no bridge between, or the dictionary gives you a perfectly good definition, but no context as to why anyone would care to make a distinction that really just seems so obvious, and then write a book about it.

The Philosopher's Toolkit is the bridge I've needed. The ideas are stated in much simpler language than any dictionary, and also give a context for every idea so you can understand why it matters. I even bought a couple of books from the recommended reading lists at the end of each section (starred for how easy they are to understand). I'd call this volume essential.

At the time of this review, there were 11 reviews, all of them 5-star. This is the 12th. Enough said.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Fearing Alzheimer's at age 73, I set my mind to stay fit, exercise regularly, and eat the recommended diet. Photography is my hobby. Learning and doing photography helps to exercise my brain. But I was looking for something more.

I found it . . . a study of philosophy. I love to argue peacefully (and win because of superior reasoning). Even arguing me against myself is one of my favorite pastimes. (For example, does anything exist that was not caused to exist by prior events?)

The Philosopher's Tool kit has been written for old duffs just like me - and, I guess, also for young College students who want to improve their thinking ability. Just reading a few arguments catches and holds my attention. With false arguments, criticisms, and solutions so close together, I get a rush of satisfaction. When thumbing through the headings I feel sure that this is a great book to start my study.

If I have any criticisms after finishing it I will amend this review.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2010
'The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Method' is exceptional. It is incredibly in-depth, covering many of the important aspects that make philosophy such a beautiful thing. The book is structured so as to allow the reader to approach the subject of philosophical argumentation much like any student who is new to the subject would.

Starting from the beginning, the opening chapter is titled: 'Basic Tools for Argument', which is composed of twelve sections, each one covering particular topic.

The next chapter is titled: "More Advanced Tools' and is composed of ten sections.

Chapter three is titled: 'Tools for Assessment', and is made up of twenty-six sections which cover different fallacies, dilemmas, and other examples of faulty reasoning.

Chapter four, which is made up of nineteen section, is titled: 'Tools for Conceptual Distinctions'.

The next chapter is titled: 'Tools for Historical Schools and Philosophers', and is made up of ten sections.

Number six is titled: 'Tools for Radical Critique', which is made up of eleven sections and covers different critiques on many important and influential concepts and ideals.

The last chapter is titled: 'Tools at the Limit', and is made up of ten sections.

This book is a blessing, and can serve a variety of purposes for its owner. Regardless of whether it is to be used as an introduction to philosophical argumentation, or as a quick source of referral regarding key concepts and definitions of basic philosophical terms. So long as it is put to good use, it will arguably be one of the best investments that the buy ever makes. I Highly recommend it!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I started reading a book about epistemology. Now, I'm training to be a scientist and the last time I had any contact with philosophy was 10 years ago, while in high school. So when I started reading counter-examples that involved deceit and impossible situations (fake barns, aliens, twin Earths, etc.), I couldn't understand how that could be sound reasoning. Fortunately, I came across this book. Baggini and Fosl do a great job at explaining things to the uninitiated. Their style is humorous, which makes it easy to read. The ideas flow clearly with a good use of examples and anecdotes (the exception may be the chapter on Lacanian critique). The overall structure, the cross-referencing and the final website and podcast lists are quite useful. I'm not sure if I can tackle the epistemology book yet, but I now know what to read next.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2010
I have read many introductions to philosophy aimed at laymen & this is by far the best I've seen. Everything is explained very clearly, referencing the relevant concepts after each explaination, great book recommendations, even some great online references. This one does just about everything right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2014
"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it."
-George Orwell, 1984

"The Philosopher's Toolkit" by Julian Baggini is yet another example of state controlled academia shamelessly manipulating the perceptions of the masses. If you have any interest in trying to understand real-world deception this book very deliberately and conspicuously offers you no real assistance. (Of course, if your government really wanted you to understand classical logic they would have taught it to you while you attended state controlled schools for over a decade.)

Please allow me to offer you the following information that will help to clarify my claims ( adapted from a definition given in an early edition of Howard Kahane's book "Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric").

"We ought in fairness to fight our case with no help beyond the bare facts: nothing, therefore, should matter except the proof of those facts."
-Aristotle, Rhetoric

"All instruction given or received by way of argument proceeds from pre-existent knowledge."
-Aristotle, Posterior Analytics

Cogent (logical) reasoning, reasoning designed to strongly appeal to the intellect rather than the emotions, should meet 3 conditions:
1. It should begin with justified premises (true propositions supported by solid verifiable evidence).
2. It should contain all of the relevant information (the suppression of relevant counterargument/evidence can be a very effective form of deception).
3. It should be properly structured, so that it comes to a conclusion which logically follows from the premises. (In the case of valid deductive arguments this conclusion would "necessarily" follows from the premises. In the case of very strong inductive arguments it would follow "beyond a reasonable doubt". In both cases it would be free of contradiction and consistent with the facts.)

When an argument meets these conditions (ie. verifiably true premises, all relevant evidence, and properly structured) it is said to be sound or cogent, and very likely to be true. When an argument does not meet these conditions it is said to be fallacious (faulty/deceptive reasoning).

So, having said that , here are my complaints about this book:

1. This book doesn't mention that cogent reasoning requires that premises be supported by verifiable evidence.
2. This book doesn't once mention the logical fallacy of suppressed evidence.
3. This book doesn't offer definitions of such primary informal logical fallacies as argumentum ad verecundiam, argumentum ad misericordiam, argumentum ad baculum, argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad ignorantiam, etc..

Just imagine that you were going to be tried in a court that had no idea that (1) charges must be supported by verifiable evidence, (2) that relevant evidence must not be suppressed, and (3) that coercive and emotionally manipulative tactics must not be used on the jury. What do you think your chances would be of getting a fair trial?

In the real world skilled liars like politicians, lawyers, and academics (1) present elaborate arguments with premises which only appear to be true, (2) deliberately suppress relevant evidence, and (3) use every manipulative and coercive logical fallacy that they think they can get away with.

I expect that 9 out of 10 of you will immediately dismiss this argument and go right back to sleep.

For the 1 in 10 of you who have a deep desire to see the world as clearly as you are able, and try to improve it, I hope this is of some assistance.

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."
-Rene Descartes

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."
-Plato

P.S.
Here are some refutations of fallacious arguments that our government has subjected us to that rely entirely upon contrived evidence, suppressed evidence, and a host of logical fallacies to seem plausible.

9/11:
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth
9-11 Missing Links
Dr Alan Sabrosky, former Director of Studies at the US Army War College

The Holocaust:
Bishop Richard Williamson
David McCalden
David Cole
Mark Weber
Germar Rudolf
Ernst Zundel (http://ihr.org/books/kulaszka/falsenews.toc.html)
Sylvia Stolz

Cancer:
Linus Pauling
G. Edward Griffin
Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez

AIDS and HIV:
Dr Kary Mullis (winner of the Nobel Prize)
Dr Robert Willner
Dr Peter Duesberg

JFK assassination:
Jim Garrison
Michael Collins Piper
Dr Kevin Barrett
Benjamin Freedman

Sandy Hook shootings:
Sofia Smallstorm
Wolfgang Halbig

The Moon Landing:
Bill Kaysing
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon" by Bart Sibrel

All can be found on youtube.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2014
This is a sensible, readable, and well-written book, suited especially for the novice or non-specialist. The text is highly useful in clarifying or delineating basic philosophical terms and concepts. This is quite valuable because they are usually employed in the literature with the implicit assumption that readers will already know their meanings and implications. Although many do in fact more or less know many of such terms/concepts, I find after reading this book that there are some subtleties or distinctions of which I had been blithely unaware. Hence, all but trained or veteran specialists can likely benefit by sharpening their discernment of these terms and concepts here, even after years of exposure to them. I know that I did.

As a toolkit, this book comprises seven sections on important kinds of philosophical tools, which in all include some one hundred tools, or topics or terms. In addition to the conventional table of contents, there is also an alphabetical listing of topics/terms versus paragraph number in the front of the book. Plus there is the usual index in the back. Accordingly, this book can serve as a ready reference apart from just reading end-to-end.

As examples of the book’s vital content, some of the very significant if often misunderstood points or distinctions made in this book include:

1. “induction involves an inference where the conclusion follows from the premises not with necessity but only with probability...induction is not essentially defined as reasoning from specific to the general.” (pp. 8-9)
2. “If you hold...inconsistent beliefs, then...(they will)...be found ...either to ‘contradict’...or to be ‘contrary’ to one another...contradictory when they are opposite in ‘truth value’...contrary when they both can’t both be true.” (p.19)
3. “To beg the question is...to assume in your argument precisely what you are trying to prove...(yet) In everyday English people often say ‘That begs the question,’ (when) meaning ‘That leads to a further question.” (pp. 118 & 120)
4. “The a priori/a posteriori distinction...(is) whether any reference to experience is required...The analytical/synthetic distinction...(is) whether thinkers add anything to concepts” (p. 149)

And from the politician’s toolkit, the authors have imported two incessantly employed willful deceptions:

1. “A false dichotomy occurs when we are presented with...false alternatives...(an) either/or choice that does not accurately represent the range of options available.” (p. 97)
2. “a logical error called the ‘straw man’ fallacy...(is) criticizing a silly caricature of another’s position rather than the position itself.” (p. 116-117)

I only noted one characterization with which I totally disagreed: coherence on page 43. And only two terms occurred to me that regrettably were omitted: entity and universals.

Obviously, this book is not for heavy-duty philosophers or scholars, and that plus its highly navigable organization is precisely why I really like it. For beginning students, it would likely serve as just a supplementary reference, but a valuable one nonetheless in keeping oneself anchored to precise meanings and clear thinking.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2010
Instead of wasting our time with introduction to the history of philosophy...pick up this book, then go read the actual philosophy books, with a reading program. This book will make it easier.
Goodluck!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 21, 2010
Anyone who wants to explore philosophy needs to read this book to become familiar with the concepts and "tools" that philosophers use. The book is organized alpahabetically by tool and provides a list of related tools as well as books, including those by prominent philosphers, both ancient and current, that will assist the reader in getting more in-depth knowledge. Each tool receives the right amount of coverage, as the authors explain the basic concept, how it is used in philosophical debates as well as opinions against the tool, if applicable. In many ways this book is an excellent complement to some of the comprehensive introductions to philosophy. In fact, while I was reading at the same time True to Life: Why Truth Matters (Bradford Books), a philosophical study about truth, I was able to decode some of the terminology because I had just read about it in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2013
The reason I got this book was because I am going into the field of philosophy and going to gain my degree. My professor suggested it to me and man did it help. This book is a book that will always be on my bookshelf/desk to help me out with concepts and is an easy encyclopedia to Philosophical concepts. Love it, great read but still challenging because well philosophy is challenging re-reading the chapters really helps me sharpen my whit about philosophic concepts!
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