Conditions of Use
I don't think that a textbook like this SHOULD "cover all areas and ideas of the subject" -- that would bee too tall of an order for an introductory philosophy book. Hence the neutral rating. I believe that the book covers an appropriate range of... read more
I don't think that a textbook like this SHOULD "cover all areas and ideas of the subject" -- that would bee too tall of an order for an introductory philosophy book. Hence the neutral rating. I believe that the book covers an appropriate range of material, but if you're looking for something that is absolutely comprehensive this probably isn't your best bet. I also would imagine supplementing this book with other material (e.g. more discussion of how arguments work, some primary readings in the history of philosophy, readings from a diverse range of authors and different traditions — full disclosure, I'm a historian of philosophy) in my introduction to philosophy class, but I don't expect to have a single book that covers everything I would want to cover.
I have not read the whole thing word-for-word so cannot speak to the complete absence of errors, but the parts I have read are concise, accurate, and to-the-point.
One advantage of philosophy is that the arguments are worth engaging with in their own right even if they are not considered to all be completely successful (as the author is careful to point out, they are not all intended to be knock-down arguments, but rather a guide to using arguments and thinking about philosophical issues).
This book exhibits many of the virtues emphasized by Anglo-American analytic philosophy, including clarity. At times I thought some of the potential objections and examples went a little further afield than necessary, but not to the point of detracting from the usefulness of the resource.
With the same caveat that I have not read the whole thing word-for-word, the parts I did read were consistent.
Each chapter can easily stand on its own.
The book is not organized so as to tell a single, coherent narrative throughout. But I wouldn't expect a philosophy textbook to do this, and the fact that this book doesn't do so makes it easier to adapt to different kinds of courses.
The interface is fine -- pdf is what I read, though print versions are available. I imagine for students it would be helpful to have a hyperlinked pdf at the very least, even better an online reading environment other than pdf. For many instructors I suspect that a different format that allowed them to edit/remix materials would be useful as well. But pdf is fine.
I have not read the whole thing word-for-word so cannot speak to the complete absence of errors, but the parts I have read are free from errors.
The text is fine, and uses a variety of examples, but many are very stereotypical "boyfriend / girlfriend" sort of examples, and I would have like to see less emphasis on militaristic metaphors for arguments (attacking, defending, etc.).
To my mind this is a very high quality example of what good philosophy OER resources can look like. Well done to the author and other contributors. Some slightly more nitpicky comments: I thought the chapter on free will was one place where canvassing the different options could be very helpful for students rather than diving straight into a single perspective. I find that introductory students are often confused about what the different positions might be in the first place. I also thought the introduction to arguments was too quick for the average student, and that more time would be needed practicing the skills of argument analysis up front. But neither of these comments should take away from the overall usefulness and quality of this resource as a whole.
Table of Contents
- Preface for Students
- Preface for Instructors
- Chapter 1: Can God Allow Suffering?
- Chapter 2: Why You Should Bet on God
- Chapter 3: What Makes You You
- Chapter 4: Don't Fear the Reaper
- Chapter 5: No Freedom
- Chapter 6: You Know Nothing
- Chapter 7: Against Prisons and Taxes
- Chapter 8: The Ethics of Abortion
- Chapter 9: Eating Animals
- Chapter 10: What Makes Things Right
- Appendix A: Logic
- Appendix B: Writing
- Appendix C: Theses and Arguments
About the Book
Learning from Arguments is a novel approach to teaching Introduction to Philosophy. It advances accessible versions of key philosophical arguments, in a form that students can emulate in their own writing, and with the primary aim of cultivating an understanding of the dynamics of philosophical argumentation.
The book contains ten core chapters, covering the problem of evil, Pascal’s wager, personal identity, the irrationality of fearing death, free will and determinism, Cartesian skepticism, the problem of induction, the problem of political authority, the violinist argument, the future-like-ours argument, the ethics of eating meat, utilitarianism (both act and rule), and the trolley problem. Additionally, there is an introductory chapter explaining what arguments are and surveying some common argumentative strategies, an appendix on logic explaining the mechanics and varieties of valid arguments, and an appendix providing detailed advice for writing philosophy papers.
Each of the ten core chapters offers a sustained argument for some controversial thesis, specifically written for an audience of beginners. The aim is to introduce newcomers to the dynamics of philosophical argumentation, using some of the arguments standardly covered in an introductory philosophy course, but without the additional hurdles one encounters when reading the primary sources of the arguments: challenging writing, specialized jargon, and references to unfamiliar books, philosophers, or schools of thought.
About the Contributors
Daniel Z. Korman, University of California Santa Barbara