Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Rent from
(Save 59%)
Est. Return Date: 07/02/2015
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 34%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.93
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 93%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (19) from $3.93   
  • New (5) from $35.97   
  • Used (14) from $3.93   


Thinking it Through is a thorough, vividly written introduction to contemporary philosophy and some of the most crucial questions of human existence, including the nature of mind and knowledge, the status of moral claims, the existence of God, the role of science, and the mysteries of language. Noted philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah shows us what it means to "do" philosophy in our time and why it should matter to anyone who wishes to live a more thoughtful life. Opposing the common misconceptions that being a philosopher means espousing a set of philosophical beliefs—or being a follower of a particular thinker—Appiah argues that "the result of philosophical exploration is not the end of inquiry in a settled opinion, but a mind resting more comfortably among many possibilities, or else the reframing of the question, and a new inquiry."
Ideal for introductory philosophy courses, Thinking It Through is organized around eight central topics—mind, knowledge, language, science, morality, politics, law, and metaphysics. It traces how philosophers in the past have considered each subject (how Hobbes, Wittgenstein, and Frege, for example, approached the problem of language) and then explores some of the major questions that still engage philosophers today. More importantly, Appiah not only explains what philosophers have thought but how they think, giving students examples that they can use in their own attempts to navigate the complex issues confronting any reflective person in the twenty-first century. Filled with concrete examples of how philosophers work, Thinking it Through guides students through the process of philosophical reflection and enlarges their understanding of the central questions of human life.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is excellent, one of the best of its kind that I've seen. It accomplishes what few general introductions to philosophy even attempt: to integrate contemporary discussion and argument into a treatment of our perennial problems without losing sight of their roots."—David Sosa, University of Texas at Austin

"The distinguishing mark of this work, which will set it clearly apart from all the best introductory books of this kind, is the way it makes deep and insightful connections among the various topics. It introduces the reader to all the main problems of contemporary philosophy, and makes philosophical concepts come alive in systematic exploration of the deep thoughts and difficult arguments to which Appiah gives lucid access."—Neil Tennant, The Ohio State University

"An extraordinarily successful introduction to philosophy: wise, witty and deeply engaging."—Paul Boghossian, New York University

Library Journal
Known to the larger public as a key figure in Harvard's African American studies program and the author of In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture, Appiah is now a professor of philosophy at Princeton. He begins by denying that he has "a philosophy" in the sense of a world picture and a guide to life. Quasi-logical issues are not so hard to understand as one might think, and here Appiah explicates them in a lively and entertaining guide, devoting much of his attention to puzzles about knowledge and the game-theoretic view of politics. Appiah's speculative politics begin with Hobbes's view that human life is a war of all against all and modifies it through a discussion of John Rawls. Logical issues predominate: Is "God" a proper name? How can we talk about "existence" (divine or otherwise)? The logic of Hume's treatment of the design argument is pursued. But God remains elusive, and the immortality of the soul does not intrude. One need not be an academic to enjoy this book. But though it may open new worlds, some may wonder where the philosophy has gone.-Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa, Ont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195134582
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/6/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kwame Anthony Appiah is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He is the author of Assertion and Conditionals, For Truth in Semantics, and In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (OUP 1992) and co-editor, with Henry Louis Gates Jr., of Encarta Africana and Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Few Preliminaries
1.1. Introduction
1.2. Descartes: The beginnings of modern philosophy of mind
1.3. The private-language argument
1.4. Computers as models of the mind
1.5. Why should there be a functionalist theory?
1.6. Functionalism: A first problem
1.7. A simple-minded functionalist theory of pain
1.8. Ramsey's solution to the first problem
1.9. Functionalism: A second problem
1.10. M again
1.11. Consciousness
1.12. The puzzle of the physical
1.13. Conclusion
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Plato: Knowledge as justified true belief
2.3. Descartes' way: Justification requires certainty
2.4. Locke's way: Justification can be less than certain
2.5. The foundations of knowledge
2.6. Ways around skepticism I: Verificationism
2.7. Ways around skepticism II: Causal theories of knowledge
2.8. Causal theories contrasted with traditional accounts of justification
2.9. Epistemology naturalized
2.10. Conclusion
3.1. Introduction
3.2. The linguistic turn
3.3. The beetle in the box
3.4. Frege's "sense" and "reference"
3.5. Predicates and open sentences
3.6. Problems of intensionality
3.7. Truth conditions and possible worlds
3.8. Analytic-synthetic and necessary-contingent
3.9. Natural language and logical form
3.10. Using logic: Truth preservation, probability, and the lottery paradox
3.11. Logical truth and logical properties
3.12. Conventions of language
3.13. The paradox of analysis
3.14. Conclusion
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Description and prescription
4.3. An example: Gregor Mendel's genetic theory
4.4. Theory and observation
4.5. The received view of theories
4.6. The deductive-nomological model of explanation
4.7. Theory reduction and instrumentalism
4.8. Theory-ladenness
4.9. Justifying theories I: The problem of induction
4.10. Goodman's new riddle of induction
4.11. Justifying theories II: Popper and falsification
4.12. Justifying theories III: Inference to the best explanation
4.13. Laws and causation
4.14. Conclusion
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Facts and values
5.3. Realism and emotivism
5.4. Intuitionism
5.5. Emotivism again
5.6. Kant's universalizability principle
5.7. Dealing with relativism
5.8. Prescriptivism and supervenience
5.9. Problems of utilitarianism I: Defining "utility"
5.10. Problems of utilitarianism II: Consequentialism versus absolutism
5.11. Rights
5.12. Self and others
5.13. Conclusion
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Hobbes: Escaping the state of nature
6.3. Problems for Hobbes
6.4. Game theory I: Two-person zero-sum games
6.5. Game theory II: The prisoners' dilemma
6.6. The limits of prudence
6.7. Rawl's theory of justice
6.8. The difference principle and inequality surpluses
6.9. Criticizing Rawls I: The structure of his argument
6.10. Criticizing Rawls II: Why maximin?
6.11. Criticizing Rawls III: The status of the two principles
6.12. Reflective equilibrium
6.13. Are the two principles right?
6.14. Nozick: Beginning with rights
6.15. The entitlement theory
6.16. Ethics and politics
6.17. Conclusion
7.1. Introduction
7.2. Defining "law" I: Positivism and natural law
7.3. Defining "law" II: Legal systems and the variety of laws
7.4. Hart: The elements of a legal system
7.5. Punishment: The problem
7.6. Justifying punishment: Deterrence
7.7. Retributivism: Kant's objections
7.8. Combining deterrence and retribution
7.9. Deterrence theory again
7.10. Why do definitions matter?
7.11. Conclusion
8.1. Introduction
8.2. An example: The existence of numbers
8.3. "God" as a proper name
8.4. The necessary being
8.5. Hume: No a priori proofs of matters of fact
8.6. Kant: "Existence: is not a predicate
8.7. A posteriori arguments
8.8. The argument from design
8.9. The harmony of nature
8.10. The necessity of a creative intelligence
8.11. Hume's argument from design: The argument from experience
8.12. The problem of evil and inference to the best explanation
8.13. Conclusion
9.1. Introduction
9.2. Traditional thought
9.3. Arguing with the Azande
9.4. The significance of literacy
9.5. Cognitive relativism
9.6. The argument against strong relativism
9.7. The argument for weak relativism
9.8. Philosophy and religion
9.9. Philosophy and science
9.10. An example: Free will and determinism
9.11. Compatibilism and moral responsibility
9.12. The special character of philosophy
9.13. Conclusion

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)