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Beginning Philosophy

Richard Double

Publication Date - 03 September 1998

ISBN: 9780195117813

368 pages
6-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches


Beginning Philosophy offers students and general readers a uniquely straightforward yet challenging introduction to fundamental philosophical problems. Readily accessible to novices yet rich enough for more experienced readers, it combines serious investigation across a wide range of subjects in analytic philosophy with a clear, user-friendly writing style. Topics include logic and reasoning, the theory of knowledge, the nature of the external world, the mind/body problem, normative ethics, metaethics, free will, the existence of God, and the problem of evil. A concluding chapter outlines the worldview developed in the text and connects that view to questions about the meaning of life. The interconnection of philosophical problems and the relationship of philosophy and science are emphasized throughout. The book includes both extensive quotes from historical figures such as Aquinas, Descartes, and Hume and references to philosophically minded nonphilosophers like Dostoevski, Stephen Jay Gould, and Carl Sagan.
Beginning Philosophy is designed for use in introductory philosophy courses at a wide range of institutions. It contains numerous pedagogical materials at the end of each chapter: sections called "misconceptions" list errors that introductory readers should avoid; guide questions prompt students to explain in their own words what the text is saying; review questions help students prepare for examinations; open-ended discussion questions call for independent judgment; and annotated bibliographies provide suggestions for further reading. The volume is further enhanced by a list of famous quotations from philosophers, a glossary of philosophical terms, a glossary of names of the most famous philosophers and scientists discussed in the text, and an extensive bibliography listing every work cited.

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    What Is Philosophy?
    How Is Philosophy Possible?
    A Survey of the Topics Covered in the Text
    Why Do Philosophy?
    2. Some Methodological Tools
    Definition and Meaning
    Inference to the Best Explanation
    Cognitive Errors
    Methodological Tools at Work
    Logical Definitions Chart
    3. Theory of Knowledge
    Epistemology and Epistemic Agency
    The General Problem of Skepticism
    Specific Skeptical Problems
    Inference to the Best Explanation
    A Challenge to the Theory of Knowledge
    Misconceptions about the Theory of Knowledge
    4. The Nature of the External World
    Direct Realism
    Scientific Realism
    A Final Remark on the Debate Between the Realists and the Phenomenalists
    5. The Mind/Body Problem
    Dualistic Theories
    Artificial Intelligence as a Challenge for Materialism
    Misconceptions about the Mind/Body Problem
    6. Normative Ethics
    Some Problematic Theories of Moral Obligation
    Two Main Approaches to Moral Obligation: Consequentialism and Deontology
    Mixed Theories and What They Show about Normative Ethics
    7. Metaethics
    Objectivist Theories of Moral Judgments
    A Final Assessment of the Dispute Between the Objectivists and Subjectivists
    8. The Free Will Problem
    Six Theories
    Summary of the Six Theories
    The Four Questions Considered
    The Case for Subjectivism
    Misconceptions about the Free Will Problem
    9. The Existence of God
    Faith-Based Arguments for the Existence of God
    A Posteriori Arguments for the Existence of God
    An A Priori Argument for the Existence of God: The Ontological Argument
    The Case for Atheism
    10.The Problem of Evil
    The Best of All Possible Worlds
    Evil as a Necessary Part of Any World
    The Virtue (Soul-Making) Defense
    The Free Will Defense
    Animal Suffering
    A Problem of Goodness?
    11. A Total Picture
    Philosophy as Worldview Construction
    A Worldview
    The Meaning of Life
    Discussion Questions
    For Further Reading
    Philosophical Quotes
    Glossary of Philosophical Terms
    Glossary of Names
    Works Cited
    Chapters 3-10 open with an Introduction
    Chapters 1-10 include Guide Questions, Review Questions for Examinations, Discussion Questions, and For Further Reading

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