Making Sense: Philosophy Behind the Headlines / Edition 1

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Julian Baggini examines the philosophical issues and disputes that lie behind the news headlines. We read about what is happening in the world, but how do we know what the truth is, or whether there is one 'truth' at all? A president has his private sexual affairs discussed and analysed by everyone, but is someone's private life the proper moral concern of others? A 'war' against terrorism is declared, but what justifies the use of armed forces with its inevitable loss of life?
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The best popular primer I've seen on the foundatons of humanist thought.... Entertaining and useful.... The reader is able to learn about freedom and its limits, different concepts of equality, pacifism and just war theory, ways to determine harm to the environment, the problem of assigning value, the issues of faith versus reason as well as 'cults' versus established religions, and arguments for establishing the validity of science."--Fred Edwords, The Humanist

Publishers Weekly
A book that uses the techniques and theories of Western philosophy as a way to gain insight into current affairs has the potential to be dry as a piece of unbuttered white toast, but Baggini has penned a wonderfully accessible volume of just that sort. Founding editor of The Philosophers' Magazine, Baggini brings the writings of Nietzsche, Jeremy Bentham (who memorably remarked that the notion of natural rights was "nonsense on stilts") and John Stuart Mill to bear on an engaging analysis of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair and the role of ethics in private and public life. Genetically modified food, euthanasia, the role of science in society and even the nature of truth are all subjected to Baggini's rigorous yet readable investigation. Readers will no doubt disagree with some of his conclusions-such as when he asserts, via Kierkegaard, that religious faith should be a "terrifying leap" rather than a "soothing panacea"-but that's part of the whole point. As he writes in his introduction, "I do not intend this book as the last word but as an invitation for more philosophizing to begin." (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192803399
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.81 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Julian has both an academic and journalistic background. He was awarded a PhD in philosophy from University College London in 1997 for his thesis on personal identity. However, he decided not to then embark on an academic career and focused instead on The Philosophers' Magazine. He has published as a freelance, with his reviews and comment pieces appearing in, among others, the Independent, Independent on Sunday, Times Educational Supplement and New Humanist. He also has a regular column in The Skeptic

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Philosophy behind the Headlines 1
1 Truth, lies, and videotape: The problem of knowledge 15
2 Doing the right thing: Ethics and private life 49
3 Ballot bores: Rethinking politics 85
4 Hawks and doves: The morality of war 113
5 Test-tube trouble: Science under fire 143
6 Green thinking: Conceptualizing the environment 171
7 Cult friction: Faith and reason 197
8 Bread and circuses: Calculating value 221
9 From conception to coffin: When to end life 243
10 The rest of life: Philosophy beyond the headlines 263
Further Reading 289
Illustration Sources 291
Index 293
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