Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy

Paperback | February 4, 2004

byKwame Anthony Appiah

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Thinking it Through is a thorough, vividly written introduction to contemporary philosophy and some of the most crucial questions of human existence, including the nature of mind and knowledge, the status of moral claims, the existence of God, the role of science, and the mysteries oflanguage. Noted philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah shows us what it means to "do" philosophy in our time and why it should matter to anyone who wishes to live a more thoughtful life. Opposing the common misconceptions that being a philosopher means espousing a set of philosophical beliefs--or being afollower of a particular thinker--Appiah argues that "the result of philosophical exploration is not the end of inquiry in a settled opinion, but a mind resting more comfortably among many possibilities, or else the reframing of the question, and a new inquiry." Ideal for introductory philosophy courses, Thinking It Through is organized around eight central topics--mind, knowledge, language, science, morality, politics, law, and metaphysics. It traces how philosophers in the past have considered each subject (how Hobbes, Wittgenstein, and Frege, forexample, approached the problem of language) and then explores some of the major questions that still engage philosophers today. More importantly, Appiah not only explains what philosophers have thought but how they think, giving students examples that they can use in their own attempts to navigatethe complex issues confronting any reflective person in the twenty-first century. Filled with concrete examples of how philosophers work, Thinking it Through guides students through the process of philosophical reflection and enlarges their understanding of the central questions of humanlife.

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Thinking it Through is a thorough, vividly written introduction to contemporary philosophy and some of the most crucial questions of human existence, including the nature of mind and knowledge, the status of moral claims, the existence of God, the role of science, and the mysteries oflanguage. Noted philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah sho...

Kwame Anthony Appiah is at Princeton University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 5.51 × 8.19 × 0.98 inPublished:February 4, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195134583

ISBN - 13:9780195134582

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: A Few PreliminariesCHAPTER 1: MIND1.1. Introduction1.2. Descartes: The beginnings of modern philosophy of mind1.3. The private-language argument1.4. Computers as models of the mind1.5. Why should there be a functionalist theory?1.6. Functionalism: A first problem1.7. A simple-minded functionalist theory of pain1.8. Ramsey's solution to the first problem1.9. Functionalism: A second problem1.10. M again1.11. Consciousness1.12. The puzzle of the physical1.13. ConclusionCHAPTER 2: KNOWLEDGE2.1. Introduction2.2. Plato: Knowledge as justified true belief2.3. Descartes' way: Justification requires certainty2.4. Locke's way: Justification can be less than certain2.5. The foundations of knowledge2.6. Ways around skepticism I: Verificationism2.7. Ways around skepticism II: Causal theories of knowledge2.8. Causal theories contrasted with traditional accounts of justification2.9. Epistemology naturalized2.10. ConclusionCHAPTER 3: LANGUAGE3.1. Introduction3.2. The linguistic turn3.3. The beetle in the box3.4. Frege's "sense" and "reference"3.5. Predicates and open sentences3.6. Problems of intensionality3.7. Truth conditions and possible worlds3.8. Analytic-synthetic and necessary-contingent3.9. Natural language and logical form3.10. Using logic: Truth preservation, probability, and the lottery paradox3.11. Logical truth and logical properties3.12. Conventions of language3.13. The paradox of analysis3.14. ConclusionCHAPTER 4: SCIENCE4.1. Introduction4.2. Description and prescription4.3. An example: Gregor Mendel's genetic theory4.4. Theory and observation4.5. The received view of theories4.6. The deductive-nomological model of explanation4.7. Theory reduction and instrumentalism4.8. Theory-ladenness4.9. Justifying theories I: The problem of induction4.10. Goodman's new riddle of induction4.11. Justifying theories II: Popper and falsification4.12. Justifying theories III: Inference to the best explanation4.13. Laws and causation4.14. ConclusionCHAPTER 5: MORALITY5.1. Introduction5.2. Facts and values5.3. Realism and emotivism5.4. Intuitionism5.5. Emotivism again5.6. Kant's universalizability principle5.7. Dealing with relativism5.8. Prescriptivism and supervenience5.9. Problems of utilitarianism I: Defining "utility"5.10. Problems of utilitarianism II: Consequentialism versus absolutism5.11. Rights5.12. Self and others5.13. ConclusionCHAPTER 6: POLITICS6.1. Introduction6.2. Hobbes: Escaping the state of nature6.3. Problems for Hobbes6.4. Game theory I: Two-person zero-sum games6.5. Game theory II: The prisoners' dilemma6.6. The limits of prudence6.7. Rawl's theory of justice6.8. The difference principle and inequality surpluses6.9. Criticizing Rawls I: The structure of his argument6.10. Criticizing Rawls II: Why maximin?6.11. Criticizing Rawls III: The status of the two principles6.12. Reflective equilibrium6.13. Are the two principles right?6.14. Nozick: Beginning with rights6.15. The entitlement theory6.16. Ethics and politics6.17. ConclusionCHAPTER 7: LAW7.1. Introduction7.2. Defining "law" I: Positivism and natural law7.3. Defining "law" II: Legal systems and the variety of laws7.4. Hart: The elements of a legal system7.5. Punishment: The problem7.6. Justifying punishment: Deterrence7.7. Retributivism: Kant's objections7.8. Combining deterrence and retribution7.9. Deterrence theory again7.10. Why do definitions matter?7.11. ConclusionCHAPTER 8: METAPHYSICS8.1. Introduction8.2. An example: The existence of numbers8.3. "God" as a proper name8.4. The necessary being8.5. Hume: No a priori proofs of matters of fact8.6. Kant: "Existence: is not a predicate8.7. A posteriori arguments8.8. The argument from design8.9. The harmony of nature8.10. The necessity of a creative intelligence8.11. Hume's argument from design: The argument from experience8.12. The problem of evil and inference to the best explanation8.13. ConclusionCHAPTER 9: PHILOSOPHY9.1. Introduction9.2. Traditional thought9.3. Arguing with the Azande9.4. The significance of literacy9.5. Cognitive relativism9.6. The argument against strong relativism9.7. The argument for weak relativism9.8. Philosophy and religion9.9. Philosophy and science9.10. An example: Free will and determinism9.11. Compatibilism and moral responsibility9.12. The special character of philosophy9.13. ConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"An extraordinarily successful introduction to philosophy: wise, witty and deeply engaging."--Paul Boghossian, New York University