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Paradoxes 3rd Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521720793
ISBN-10: 0521720796
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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3rd edition (March 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521720796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521720793
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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This is an important book that permits people to look at relationships that rest on flimsy causation. There are a good deal of what ifs in this book. Despite the tedious digressions into fantasy land, the exercises in inquiry need to be evaluated and practiced.

Students and communities need to move from seeing contradictions and states of mutually exclusivity as something beyond the juvenile "Oxymoron." This book can help.

Chapter 2, Moral Paradoxes is a good exploration into moral issues but it is hardly conclusive or exhaustive. Chapter 5, Believing Rationally is equally good in its discussion of seeking reason but that chapter also fails to quite soar.

Nevertheless, this book is recommended because it encourages readers to challenge their assumptions and follow an argument back to its root premise. If you cannot buy the first cause, nothing follows.

This book would make a good companion text to a course in logic or critical thinking.
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