Our self-image as moral, well-behaved creatures is dogged by scepticism, relativism, hypocrisy, and nihilism, by the fear that in a Godless world science has unmasked us as creatures fated by our genes to be selfish and tribalistic, or competitive and aggressive. In this 'sparklingly clear' (Guardian) introduction to ethics Simon Blackburn tackles the major moral questions surrounding birth, death, happiness, desire and freedom, showing us how we should think about the meaning of life, and how we should mistrust the soundbite-sized absolutes that often dominate moral debates. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
An original study of the philosophical problems associated with inductive reasoning. Like most of the main questions in epistemology, the classical problem of induction arises from doubts about a mode of inference used to justify some of our most familiar and pervasive beliefs. The experience of each individual is limited and fragmentary, yet the scope of our beliefs is much wider; and it is the relation between belief and experience, in particular the belief that the future will in some respects resemble the past and the unobserved the observed, which forms the subject of this book. Dr Blackburn's first aim is to state the problem of induction properly, to show that there does exist a genuine problem immune to the solutions in vogue at present, yet no tin principle insoluble. He gives an extended and original account of the concept of a reason and goes on to discuss prediction. In the end Dr Blackburn produces a rationale for belief in certain short-term predictions based on his reinterpretation of the classical principle of indifference. He claims that a justification for induction can be found along the lines he has suggested and must indeed be found there if anywhere.
Lust, says Simon Blackburn, is furtive, headlong, always sizing up opportunities. It is a trail of clothing in the hallway, the trashy cousin of love. But be that as it may, the aim of this delightful book is to rescue lust "from the denunciations of old men of the deserts, to deliver it from the pallid and envious confessor and the stocks and pillories of the Puritans, to drag it from the category of sin to that of virtue." Blackburn, author of such popular philosophy books as Think and Being Good, here offers a sharp-edged probe into the heart of lust, blending together insight from some of the world's greatest thinkers on sex, human nature, and our common cultural foibles. Blackburn takes...
This accessible introduction to ethics continues the trend of Blackburn's best-selling Think. His rare combination of depth, rigor and sparking prose, and his distinguished ranking among contemporary philosophers, mark Being Good as an important statement on our current disenchantment with ethics.
Here at last is a coherent, unintimidating introduction to the challenging and fascinating landscape of Western philosophy. Written expressly for "anyone who believes there are big questions out there, but does not know how to approach them," Think provides a sound framework for exploring the most basic themes of philosophy, and for understanding how major philosophers have tackled the questions that have pressed themselves most forcefully on human consciousness. Simon Blackburn, author of the best-selling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, begins by making a convincing case for the relevance of philosophy and goes on to give the reader a sense of how the great historical figures such as Plato...
This important book is about truth, and the enemies of truth, and the wars that are fought between them. As Simon Blackburn says in his introduction, "the ground is complicated, strewn with abandoned fortresses and trenches, fought over by shifting alliances". Truth is an essential sure-footed guide through the territory, from classical to modern times. It looks at relativism and absolutism, toleration and belief, objectivity and knowledge, science and pseudo-science, and the moral and political implications, as well as the nuances, of all these.
This bestselling dictionary is written by one of the leading philosophers of our time, and it is widely recognized as the best dictionary of its kind. Comprehensive and authoritative, it covers every aspect of philosophy from Aristotle to Zen. With clear and concise definitions, it provides lively and accessible coverage of not only Western philosophical traditions, but also themes from Chinese, Indian, Islamic, and Jewish philosophy. Entries include over 400 biographies of famous and influential philosophers, in-depth analysis of philosophical terms and concepts, and a chronology of philosophical events stretching from 10,000 BC to the present day. New entries on philosophy of economics, social theory, neuroscience, philosophy of the mind, and moral conceptions bring the third edition of this dictionary fully up to date. Fully cross-referenced and containing over 3,300 alphabetical entries, it is the ideal introduction to philosophy for anyone with an interest in the subject, and it is an indispensable work of reference for students and teachers.
Simon Blackburn presents a selection of his philosophical essays from 1995 to 2010. He offers engaging and illuminating discussions of various problems which arise when such familiar notions as representation, truth, reason, and assertion are applied in the sphere of practical thought. It is puzzling how our thinking gets to grip with such things as values and norms. Blackburn explores how we can try to understand what we say in terms of what we are doing when we say it. He investigates how propositions interact with linguistic expressions whose primary function is identified in terms of actions performed in expressing commitments with them, when those commitments are thought of in practical rather than descriptive terms. He broadens his investigation from semantic questions to wider issues of pluralism, pragmatism, philosophy of mind, and the nature of practical reasoning.
Truth is not just a recent topic of contention. Arguments about it have gone on for centuries. Why is the truth important? Who decides what the truth is? Is there such a thing as objective, eternal truth, or is truth simply a matter of perspective, of linguistic or cultural vantage point? In this concise book Simon Blackburn provides an accessible explanation of what truth is and how we might think about it. The first half of the book details several main approaches to how we should think about, and decide, what is true. These are philosophical theories of truth such as the correspondence theory, the coherence theory, deflationism, and others. He then examines how those approaches relate to truth in several contentious domains: art, ethics, reasoning, religion, and the interpretation of texts. Blackburn's overall message is that truth is often best thought of not as a product or an end point that is 'finally' achieved, but--as the American pragmatist thinkers thought of it--as an ongoing process of inquiry. The result is an accessible and tour through some of the deepest and thorniest questions philosophy has ever tackled