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An urgent defense of reason, the essential method for resolving--or even discussing--divisive issues Reason, long held as the highest human achievement, is under siege. According to Aristotle, the capacity for reason sets us apart from other animals, yet today it has ceased to be a universally admired faculty. Rationality and reason have become political, disputed concepts, subject to easy dismissal. Julian Baggini argues eloquently that we must recover our reason and reassess its proper place, neither too highly exalted nor completely maligned. Rationality does not require a sterile, scientistic worldview, it simply involves the application of critical thinking wherever thinking is needed. Addressing such major areas of debate as religion, science, politics, psychology, and economics, the author calls for commitment to the notion of a "community of reason," where disagreements are settled by debate and discussion, not brute force or political power. Baggini's insightful book celebrates the power of reason, our best hope--indeed our only hope--for dealing with the intractable quagmires of our time.
Can it ever be right to kill? Is terrorism ever justified? Should euthanasia be legal? Are some people superior to others? Do animals have rights? Some ethical judgements are easy: one side is wrong and the other is right. But how do we handle the really tough 'right vs right' dilemmas, where each side has strong moral arguments? In Without God, is Everything Permitted? bestselling author and philosopher Julian Baggini clear-sightedly and compassionately examines 20 of the most complex contemporary ethical dilemmas. Whether it's asking if torture is always wrong, or if discrimination can ever be good, this book will help you sort out what you really believe about the issues that matter most.
The Geography of Morals is a work of extraordinary ambition: an indictment of the parochialism of Western philosophy, a comprehensive dialogue between anthropology, empirical moral psychology, behavioral economics, and cross-cultural philosophy, and a deep exploration of the opportunities for self, social, and political improvement provided by world philosophy. We live in multicultural, cosmopolitan worlds. These worlds are distinctive moral ecologies in which people enact and embody different lived philosophies and conceive of mind, morals, and the meaning of life differently from the typical WEIRD -- Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic -- person. This is not a predicament; it is an opportunity. Many think that cross cultural understanding is useful for developing a modus vivendi where people from different worlds are not at each other's throats and tolerate each other. Flanagan presses the much more exciting possibility that cross-cultural philosophy provides opportunities for exploring the varieties of moral possibility, learning from other traditions, and for self, social, and political improvement. There are ways of worldmaking in other living traditions -- Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Amerindian, and African -- that citizens in Western countries can benefit from. Cross-cultural learning is protection against what Alasdair MacIntyre refers to as being "imprisoned by one's upbringing." Flanagan takes up perennial topics of whether there is anything to the idea of a common human nature, psychobiological sources of human morality, the nature of the self, the role of moral excellence in a good human life, and whether and how empirical inquiry into morality can contribute to normative ethics. The Geography of Morals exemplifies how one can respectfully conceive of multiculturalism and global interaction as providing not only opportunities for business and commerce, but also opportunities for socio-moral and political improvement on all sides. This is a book that aims to change how normative ethics and moral psychology are done.
"His book...supplant[s] all others, even the immensely successful History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell."—A. C. Grayling Already a classic, this landmark study of early Western thought now appears in a new edition with expanded coverage of the Middle Ages. This landmark study of Western thought takes a fresh look at the writings of the great thinkers of classic philosophy and questions many pieces of conventional wisdom. The book invites comparison with Bertrand Russell's monumental History of Western Philosophy, "but Gottlieb's book is less idiosyncratic and based on more recent scholarship" (Colin McGinn, Los Angeles Times). A New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Best Book, and a Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2001.
Why does reason matter, if (as many people seem to think) in the end everything comes down to blind faith or gut instinct? Why not just go with what you believe even if it contradicts the evidence? Why bother with rational explanation when name-calling, manipulation, and force are so much more effective in our current cultural and political landscape? Michael Lynch's In Praise of Reason offers a spirited defense of reason and rationality in an era of widespread skepticism -- when, for example, people reject scientific evidence about such matters as evolution, climate change, and vaccines when it doesn't jibe with their beliefs and opinions.In recent years, skepticism about the practical value of reason has emerged even within the scientific academy. Many philosophers and psychologists claim that the reasons we give for our most deeply held views are often little more than rationalizations of our prior convictions. InPraise of Reason gives us a counterargument. Although skeptical questions about reason have a deep and interesting history, they can be answered. In particular, appeals to scientific principles of rationality are part of the essential common currency of any civil democratic society. The idea that everything is arbitrary -- that reason has no more weight than blind faith -- undermines a key principle of a civil society: that we owe our fellow citizens explanations for what we do. Reason matters -- not just for the noble ideal of truth, but for the everyday world in which we live.
Do we have free will? It's a question that has puzzled philosophers and theologians for centuries, remains one of the most intractable, and feeds into numerous smaller social, political and personal concerns. Are we products of our culture, or free agents within it? Are our neural pathways fixed early on by a mixture of nature and nurture, or is the possibility of comprehensive, intentional psychological change always open to us? What role does our brain play in the construction of free will, and how much medical evidence is there for the existence of it? What exactly are we talking about when we talk about 'freedom' anyway?In this cogent and compelling book, Julian Baggini explores the concept of 'free will' from every angle, blending philosophy, neuroscience, sociology and cognitive science. Freedom Regained brings the issues raised by the possibilities - and denials - of free to vivid life, drawing on scientific research and fascinating encounters with expert witnesses, from artists to addicts. It will provide a new understanding of our sense of personal freedom - and change the way the reader will think about their own choices.
Peter Cave’s bestselling trio of humorous philosophy titles – What’s Wrong With Eating People?, Can a Robot be Human?, and Do Llamas Fall in Love? – brought together in one big book. What makes me, me – and you, you? What is this thing called ‘love’? Does life have a point? Is ‘no’ the right answer to this question? Philosophy transports us from the wonderful to the weird, from the funny to the very serious indeed. With the aid of tall stories, jokes, fascinating insights and common sense, Peter Cave offers a comprehensive survey of all areas of philosophy, addressing the big puzzles in ethics and politics, metaphysics and knowledge, religion and the emotions, aesthetics and logic. Replete with a smorgasbord of amusing and mind-boggling examples, The Big Think Book is perfect for anyone who delights in life’s conundrums.

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