Lucidly written, this extensive and very original introduction to philosophy features over fifty brief, jargon-free essays arranged in pairs. Each pair answers one of the principal philosophical questions, such as "Does God exist?" or "Are we free?", with two opposing points of view. On the topic of relativism, for example, one essay argues that morality is created by society and relative to it, while the other claims that moral standards are absolute and universal. Each essay takes a definite stand and promotes it vigorously, creating a sharp contrast between the two positions. While the essays often employ standard arguments of great philosophers, they present the ideas in contemporary language with vivid examples. The accessible style and conflicting answers engage students and promote class discussion. While other textbooks present a series of excerpts and theories without attempting to coordinate them into a larger picture, Philosophical Dilemmas encourages students in introductory philosophy courses to think for themselves and to begin constructing their own worldviews.
Introduction: What is Philosophy?
1. God, Immortality, and Faith
1.1. DOES GOD EXIST?
Yes: Causal Theist. "In the Beginning"
Yes: Design Theist. "Design or Chance?"
No: Atheist. "The Retreat of the Gods"
Methods and Techniques: Arguments
1. IS GOD LIKE HUMAN BEINGS?
No: Abstractionist. "God Is Love"
Yes: Personalist. "The Projection Theory"
Methods and Techniques: Meanings of Words
1.3. CAN GOD ALLOW INNOCENT SUFFERING?
No: Incompatibilist. "There Is No God"
Yes: Compatibilist. "Character and Contentment"
Methods and Techniques: Consistent Beliefs
1.4. IS THE SOUL IMMORTAL?
No: Terminator. "Immortality"
Yes: Survivor. "For and against an Afterlife"
Methods and Techniques: Facts and Concepts
1.5. IS FAITH AN ANSWER?
Yes: Believer. "Accepting Limits"
No: Questioner. "Faith and Its Consequences"
Methods and Techniques: Consequences
Connections: Transcendentalist or Naturalist?
2. Liberty, Equality, and Justice
2.1. IS SOCIETY BASED ON A CONTRACT?
Yes: Contractor. "The Social Contract"
No: Organicist. "The Social Organism"
Methods and Techniques: Models
2.2. IS LIBERTY THE HIGHEST SOCIAL VALUE?
Yes: Libertarian. "Liberty. the Supreme Social Value"
No: Paternalist. "Empty Phrases"
Methods and Techniques: Goals
2.3. IS EQUALITY THE HIGHEST SOCIAL VALUE?
Yes: Egalitarian. "Society and Property"
No: Elitist. "What Elitists Believe"
Methods and Techniques: Means and Ends
2.4. IS CAPITALISM JUST?
Yes: Contributionist. "Capitalism, Democracy, and Justice"
No: Socialist. "Capitalist Society"
Methods and Techniques: Thinking and Emotion
2.5. SHOULD WE ESTABLISH A WORLD GOVERNMENT?
Yes: Internationalist. "Choosing a Peacful Future"
No: Localist. "The Politics of World Government"
Methods and Techniques: Comparing
Connections: Liberal or Conservative?
3. Happiness, Obligations, and Values
3.1. IS PLEASURE THE ONLY VALUE?
Yes: Hedonist. "Hedonism"
No: Pluralist. "A World of Values"
Methods and Techniques: Facts and Values
3.2. CAN WE UNDERSTAND HAPPINESS?
Yes: Definer. "Happiness"
No: Muddler. "The Elusive Dream"
Methods and Techniques: Definitions
3.3. IS MORALITY RELATIVE?
Yes: Relativist. "Moral Relativism"
No: Absolutist. "Right for you, Wrong for Me?"
Methods and Techniques: Ad Hominem
3.4. IS HAPPINESS THE STANDARD OF MORALITY?
Yes: Utilitarian. "Utilitarianism"
No: Formalist. "The Principle of Morality"
Methods and Techniques: Moral Theories
3.5. IS SOCIETY THE SOURCE OF VALUES?
Yes: Functionalist. "An Objective Basis for Morality"
No: Moral theist. "The Current Crisis and Its Solution
Methods and Techniques: Necessary Conditions
Connections: Humanist or Objectivist?
4. Free Will, Mind, and Identity
4.1. ARE WE ALWAYS SELFISH?
Yes: Psychological Egoist. "No Free Lunch"
No: Psychological Altruist. "Is Love Selfish?"
Methods and Techniques: Generalizations
4.2. ARE WE FREE?
No: Hard Determinist. "One World, Not Two"
Yes: Metaphysical Libertarian. "Free Will and Common Sense"
Yes: Soft Determinist. "Verbal Disputes, Facts, and Free Will"
Methods and Techniques: Introspection
4.3. ARE WE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR ACTIONS?
No: Excuser. "Rejecting Responsibility"
Yes: Judge. "No Excuse"
Methods and Techniques: Infinite Regress
4.4. IS THE MIND NOTHING BUT THE BRAIN?
Yes: Materialist. "Body and Soul"
No: Dualist. "The Inner Life"
Methods and Techniques: Possible and Impossible
4.5. CAN COMPUTERS THINK?
Yes: Mechanist. "Can Computers Think?"
No: Mentalist. "People vs. Machines"
Methods and Techniques: Analogies
4.6. CAN I CREATE MY IDENTITY?
No: Role player. "Being Authentic, Playing a Role."
Yes: Individualist. "Self-Reliance"
Methods and Techniques: Identity
5. Knowledge, Science, and Truth
5.1. CAN WE KNOW ABOUT THE EXTERNAL WORLD?
No. Internalist. "Knowledge of the External World"
Yes. Perceiver. "The Limits of Ignorance"
Methods and Techniques: Philosophy and Imagination
5.2. DOES SCIENCE GIVE US REAL KNOWLEDGE?
Yes: Positivist. "Science as Knowledge"
No: Romantic. "What Kind of Understanding?"
Methods and Techniques: Making Assumptions
5.3. IS EXPERIENCE THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE?
Yes: Empiricist. "The Source of Knowledge"
No: Rationalist. "The Strange Case of the Mathematician"
5.4. IS CERTAINTY THE STANDARD OF KNOWLEDGE?
Yes: Foundationalist. "Certainty"
No: Pragmatist. "The Test of Knowledge"
Methods and Techniques: Searching for Foundations
5.5. IS TRUTH SUBJECTIVE?
Yes: Subjectivist. "Truth is Subjectivity"
No: Representationalist. "True Beliefs and False Beliefs"
Methods and Techniques: Ten Theses on Language
Connections: Intuitionist or Externalist?
Key Concepts and Critical Questions follow each argument
Each subchapter ends with section on Understanding the Dilemma