Introducing Philosophy: Questions and Readings

Introducing Philosophy: Questions and Readings
Emond Publishing
Page Count:
Publication Date:
July 2013
Liberal and Fine Arts

More than simply a collection of core readings in Philosophy, this text has been carefully designed to be a valuable teaching resource for introductory courses. Created with a first-time student in mind, it presents classic and contemporary readings in the form of thought-provoking questions, with six parts devoted to the key themes most commonly explored at the undergraduate level. These selections are augmented by applied readings that link the themes to aspects of modern life.

Along with the editors' accessible overviews that present key concepts and introduce leading figures, each part concludes with a series of brief exercises designed to help develop students' confidence in approaching Philosophy, and hone specific skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) that are highly transferable to other areas of study. The text is supplemented by video links and brief online author podcasts that allow students the opportunity to engage with philosophy in a different manner than the typical text-only approach.

  • Reading selections cover the key themes, thinkers, and topics typically found in undergraduate philosophy courses
  • Designed to be suitable for both one- or two-semester courses
  • Overview essays introduce key philosophers, concepts, and debates
  • Brief introductory blurbs set the context for each reading
  • Applied readings appear at end of each part, helping to summarize each theme
  • Each part concludes with brief exercises (listening, speaking, reading, writing) designed to help build students' confidence and develop highly transferable skills
  • Presents introductory-level students with important tips and tools to help them approach the study of philosophy with confidence, and introduces the elements of philosophical argument and debate (such as premises, conclusions, basic argument types and structures, and fallacies)
  • Includes glossary, discussion questions, video links, and more

Brief Table of Contents

  • Part I: Introduction: Approaching Philosophy
  • Part II: Metaphysics

  • Part III: Epistemology

  • Part IV: Moral Philosophy
  • Part V: Social and Political Thought

  • Part VI: The Meaning of Life: God, Evil, Love, and Death

Detailed Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction

  • Chapter 1: The Successful Philosophy Student
  • Chapter 2: Understanding Arguments

Part II: Metaphysics
Editors' Introduction

  • Chapter 3: What Is Reality?
    • 3.1 Bertrand Russell, The World of Universals
    • 3.2 Plato, The Good
  • Chapter 4: How Can We Understand Matter and Mind?
    • 4.1 René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (Meditation VI)
    • 4.2 George Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge
  • Chapter 5: Do Humans Have Free Will?
    • 5.1 Paul Henri Thiery, Baron d'Holbach, The System of Nature
    • 5.2 William James, The Dilemma of Determinism
    • 5.3 Susan Wolf, Freedom Within Reason
  • Part 2 Skills
    • Philosophy in Context: Daniel Levitin, Music and the Mind Machine
    • Listening / Speaking / Reading / Writing

Part III: Epistemology
Editors' Introduction

  • Chapter 6: Can We Know Anything at All About the External World?
    • 6.1 René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (Meditations I and II)
    • 6.2 David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • Chapter 7: Where Does Knowledge Come From?
    • 7.1 John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
    • 7.2 Gottfried Leibniz, New Essays Concerning Human Understanding
    • 7.3 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
  • Chapter 8: Does Gender Influence Knowledge?
    • 8.1 Elizabeth Anderson, Feminist Epistemology: An Interpretation and a Defense
    • 8.2 Louise Antony, Quine as Feminist: the Radical Import of Naturalized Epistemology
  • Part 3 Skills
    • Philosophy in Context: John Searle, Watson Doesn't Know It Won on "Jeopardy!"
    • Philosophy in Context: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Occasions
    • Listening / Speaking / Reading / Writing

Part IV: Moral Philosophy
Editors' Introduction

  • Chapter 9: What Is Virtue?
    • 9.1 Plato, Justice in the Soul
    • 9.2 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
  • Chapter 10: What Is the Measure of Right and Wrong?
    • 10.1 Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (The Good Will)
    • 10.2 Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
    • 10.3 John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism
  • Chapter 11: Can We Have Morality Without Traditional Foundations?
    • 11.1 Søren Kierkegaard, Problem One (Teleological Suspension of the Ethical)
    • 11.2 Friedrich Nietzsche, First Essay: Good and Evil, Good and Bad
    • 11.3 Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism Is a Humanism
    • 11.4 James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism
    • 11.5 Daniel C. Dennett, Can Ethics Be Naturalized?
  • Part 4 Skills
    • Philosophy in Context: Interview with Dick Teresi: When Does Life End?
    • Alex Wellington, Should Feminists Embrace Vegetarianism?
    • Peter Singer, Famine, Affluence, and Morality
    • Listening / Speaking / Reading / Writing

Part V: Social and Political Thought
Editors' Introduction

  • Chapter 12: What Is the Nature of the State and Society?
    • 12.1 Plato, Philosopher-Kings
    • 12.2 Aristotle, Politics
  • Chapter 13: What Is Legitimate Government?
    • 13.1 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
    • 13.2 John Locke, Two Treatises of Government
  • Chapter 14: What Is Justice? How Do We Build a Just Society?
    • 14.1 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
    • 14.2 Rawls, A Theory of Justice
    • 14.3 Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia
    • 14.4 Alasdair MacIntyre, A Disquieting Suggestion
    • 14.5 Valerie Bryson, Feminist Political Theory
    • 14.6 G.A. Cohen, Why Not Socialism?
  • Part 5 Skills
    • Philosophy in Context: Martha Nussbaum, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities
    • Listening / Speaking / Reading / Writing

Part VI: The Meaning of Life: God, Evil, Love, and Death
Editors' Introduction

  • Chapter 15: Can God's Existence Be Proven?
    • 15.1 St. Anselm, Proslogion
    • 15.2 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (The Five Ways)
    • 15.3 Immanuel Kant, The Impossibility of an Ontological Proof of the Existence of God
    • 15.4 Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian
  • Chapter 16: What Is the Meaning of Evil and Suffering?
    • 16.1 St. Augustine, Confessions
    • 16.2 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  • Chapter 17: What Can Philosophy Teach Us About Love and Sex?
    • 17.1 Plato, The Symposium
    • 17.2 Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
    • 17.3 Michel Foucault, We "Other Victorians"
  • Chapter 18: How Should We Think About Death?
    • 18.1 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time
    • 18.2 Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
    • 18.3 Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions
  • Part 6 Skills
    • Philosophy in Context: Julian Friedland, Philosophy Is Not a Science
    • Philosophy in Context: Mark Kingwell, Seeking the Good Life
    • Listening / Speaking / Reading / Writing


To view the audio and video content, click here.

The brief passage on p.479 at the end of reading 16.1, St. Augustine, is replaced by the following: This passage will be included when book is reprinted.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

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