Socratic Puzzles

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Overview

One of the foremost philosophers of our time, Robert Nozick continues the Socratic tradition of investigation. This volume, which illustrates the originality, force, and scope of his work, also displays Nozick's trademark blending of extraordinary analytical rigor with intellectual playfulness. As such, Socratic Puzzles testifies to the great pleasure that both doing and reading philosophy can be.

Comprising essays and philosophical fictions, classics and new work, the book ranges from Socrates to W. V. Quine, from the implications of an Israeli kibbutz to the flawed arguments of Ayn Rand. Nozick considers the figure of Socrates himself as well as the Socratic method (why is it a "method" of getting at the truth?). Many of these essays bring classic methods to bear on new questions about choice. How should you choose in a disconcerting situation ("Newcomb's Problem") when your decisions are completely predictable? Why do threats and not offers typically coerce our choices? How do we make moral judgments when we realize that our moral principles have exceptions? Other essays present new approaches to familiar intellectual puzzles, from the stress on simplicity in scientific hypotheses to the tendency of intellectuals to oppose capitalism.

As up to date as the latest reflections on animal rights; as perennial as the essentials of aesthetic merit (doggerel by Isaac Newton goes to prove that changing our view of the world won't suffice); as whimsical as a look at how some philosophical problems might appear from God's point of view: these essays attest to the timeliness and timelessness of Nozick's thinking. With a personal introduction, in which Nozick discusses the origins, tools, and themes of his work, Socratic Puzzles demonstrates how philosophy can constitute a way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Philadelphia Inquirer

Socratic Puzzles is the work of a brilliant mind whose energy for abstract ratiocination in the service of structure hasn't mellowed as much as some thought it would. As ever, Nozick impresses and daunts readers able to follow him.
— Carlin Romano

Toronto Globe & Mail

Nozick is a distinctive voice in contemporary philosophy: inventive, funny, and often contrarian in his beliefs and choice of topics. At its best his work is exhilarating.
— Thomas Hurka

Philadelphia Inquirer - Carlin Romano
Socratic Puzzles is the work of a brilliant mind whose energy for abstract ratiocination in the service of structure hasn't mellowed as much as some thought it would. As ever, Nozick impresses and daunts readers able to follow him.
Toronto Globe & Mail - Thomas Hurka
Nozick is a distinctive voice in contemporary philosophy: inventive, funny, and often contrarian in his beliefs and choice of topics. At its best his work is exhilarating.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Socratic Puzzles is the work of a brilliant mind whose energy for abstract ratiocination in the service of structure hasn't mellowed as much as some thought it would. As ever, Nozick impresses and daunts readers able to follow him.
— Carlin Romano
Toronto Globe & Mail
Nozick is a distinctive voice in contemporary philosophy: inventive, funny, and often contrarian in his beliefs and choice of topics. At its best his work is exhilarating.
— Thomas Hurka
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674816541
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 412
  • Product dimensions: 0.92 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Nozick was Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University. His book Anarchy, State, and Utopia received a National Book Award.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Choice and Utility

Coercion

Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice

Reflection's on Newcomb's

Interpersonal Utility Theory

On Austrian Methodology

Philosophy and Methodology

Socratic Puzzles

Experience, Theory, and Language

Simplicity as Fall-Out

Invisible-Hand Explanations

Ethics and Politics

Moral Complications and Moral Structures

On the Randian Argument

Weighted Voting and "One-Man, One-Vote"

Discussions and Reviews

Goodman, Nelson, on Merit, Aesthetics

Who Would Choose Socialism?

Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

The Characteristic Features of Extremism

War, Terrorism, Reprisals—Drawing Some Moral Lines

Do Animals Have Rights?

Philosophical Fictions

Fiction

R.S.V.P.—A Story

Testament

Teleology

Notes and References

Credits

Name Index

Subject Index

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