A Preface to Philosophy / Edition 8

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Widely used by instructors as an introductory supplement, this small book has helped thousands of students learn to think philosophically, recognize philosophical problems, and avoid the common pitfalls involved in writing critical philosophical essays. This book answers the four most important questions a beginning student needs to have answered: 1. What is a philosophical problem? 2. Why bother doing philosophy? 3. How do I go about doing philosophy? 4. Am I going to get anywhere for my efforts?
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Editorial Reviews

A slender, non-intimidating volume providing an overview of philosophy without focusing on particular problems or movements. Addressed are such ideas as how to recognize philosophical issues, why philosophize, misconceptions about philosophy, engaging with philosophy, and reading and writing. A suitable introduction to the field for college students. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

"This is an excellent "how to" tool for the first-time philosophy student, providing practical definitions and helpful exercises to ease the student into a difficult discipline."

"A very thought provoking (yet practical) book , which I think would help students get more out of any Philosophy class, especially upper division ones."

"A great introduction for potential majors in philosophy."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780495007142
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 1/19/2006
  • Edition description: 8TH
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Woodhouse, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgia State University. He teaches courses in the history of philosophy, metaphysics, consciousness studies, Eastern thought, parapsychology, and the New Paradigm literature on levels ranging from freshman to doctoral. He has authored over thirty articles in mainstream professional and leading edge journals, and is the recipient of two post-doctoral fellowships for advanced study at Brown University and UC-Berkeley.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Sixth Edition xi
A Note to Students xiii
Chapter I Recognizing Philosophical Subject Matter 1
Philosophical Problems Involve Fundamental Ideas 3
Philosophical Problems Involve Questions of Meaning, Truth (Rational Defensibility), and Logical Relations 4
Philosophical Problems Are Not Straightfowardly Empirical 9
Two Case Studies 12
Taking Your First Philosophy Course 14
Study Questions 18
Postscript: Divisions of Philosophy 18
Chapter II Why Philosophize? 20
How Philosophers See Their Goals 20
The Relevance of Philosophy 29
The Lure of Philosophical Issues 31
Postscript: Are Gurus Philosophers? 34
Chapter III Philosophical Progress: Clearing Up Some Misconceptions 36
Philosophy Is Not Merely an Exercise in Semantics 36
The Choice Between Competing Theories Is Not Arbitrary 37
Philosophers Do Agree 38
Philosophical Theories Are Not Merely Rationalizations of Personal Belief 40
Why Be Rational? 42
Postscript: The Cultural Matrix of Reason 44
Chapter IV Doing Philosophy: Getting Started 46
Preparing to Philosophize 47
What Kind of Claim Is Advanced? 48
The Claims: A Summary 52
Exercises 54
What Is the Meaning of Key Terms? 55
Exercises 60
Chapter V Doing Philosophy: Further Considerations 61
Do the Arguments Support the Thesis? 61
Exercises 67
Are the Premises True? 68
Are the Assumptions Correct? 68
Exercises 71
Are the Logical Consequences Plausible? 72
Exercises 75
How Adequate Is the Theory? 75
Exercises 78
An Example of Philosophical Analysis: Near-Death Experience 78
An Example of Philosophical Analysis: Equality of Opportunity 81
Chapter VI Common Fallacies in Argument 83
Question-Begging Arguments 83
False Alternative 85
False Disjunct 85
Ad Hominem Fallacy 86
Genetic Fallacy 87
Red Herring Fallacy 87
Straw Man 88
Slippery Slope 88
Appeal to Tradition 89
Bandwagon 89
Composition 90
Division 90
Hasty Generalization 91
Appeal to Ignorance 91
False Cause 91
Equivocation 92
Illicit Appeal to Authority 92
A Final Checklist 93
Exercises 93
Chapter VII Reading Philosophy 95
Kinds of Philosophical Writings 95
Preparing to Read Philosophy 97
Reading for Understanding 98
Reading Critically 105
Chapter VIII Writing Philosophy 106
The Nature of a Critical Philosophy Essay 106
Organizing Your Essay 108
Achieving Clarity 111
A Sample Essay 115
Postscript: A Note on Research Materials 122
Answers to Exercises 124
Appendix 132
Glossary 149
Index 163
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