What legal and political circumstances justify civil disobedience? When does lying qualify as a moral act? It is by probing a wide range of such questions that a Princeton professor demonstrates what it means to do philosophy. Hoping to discipline readers in the systematic analysis of inquiries, Appiah shows the uninitiated how to weigh alternative perspectives and test the internal consistency of arguments. The alternative perspectives scrutinized include those of classic thinkers (including Plato, Descartes, and Kant), and the conundrums surveyed include many central to the philosophic tradition (such as the mind-body problem), but readers quickly learn how rigorous philosophical thinking can guide them through a thicket of contemporary issues not yet in the textbooks. Beginners who can't tell a "counterfactual" from a "foundational belief" soon find themselves understanding how such technical terms can tighten their reasoning about language, morality, politics, and other topics. By the time they finish the book, many readers will discover that their timid curiosity about philosophy has grown into a bold willingness to explore the professional literature. Bryce ChristensenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"This book is excellent, one of the best of its kind that I've seen. It accomplishes what few general introductions to philosophy even attempt: to integrate contemporary discussion and argument into a treatment of our perennial problems without losing sight of their roots."--David Sosa, University of Texas at Austin
"The distinguishing mark of this work, which will set it clearly apart from all the best introductory books of this kind, is the way it makes deep and insightful connections among the various topics. It introduces the reader to all the main problems of contemporary philosophy, and makes philosophical concepts come alive in systematic exploration of the deep thoughts and difficult arguments to which Appiah gives lucid access."--Neil Tennant, The Ohio State University
"An extraordinarily successful introduction to philosophy: wise, witty and deeply engaging."--Paul Boghossian, New York University