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The Elements of Philosophy

Readings from Past and Present

Edited by Tamar Szabo Gendler, Susanna Siegel and Steven M. Cahn

This book is a comprehensive collection of historical and contemporary readings across the major fields of philosophy. With depth and quality, this introductory anthology offers a selection of readings that is both extensive and expansive; the readings span twenty-five centuries. With depth and quality, this introductory anthology offers a selection of readings that is both extensive and expansive; the readings span centuries. From two thousand five-hundred years ago to just a few years ago, the selections include whole works or excerpts from such classic thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Blaise Pascal, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill and such contemporary thinkers as Noam Chomsky, Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, Derek Parfit, and Hilary Putnam. The selections are organized topically into five parts: Religion and Belief, Moral and Political Philosophy, Metaphysics and Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind and Language, and Life and Death. The product of the collaboration of three highly respected scholars in their fields - Tamar Szabó Gendler, Susanna Siegel, and Steven M. Cahn - The Elements of Philosophy also includes introductions from the editors, explanatory footnotes, and a glossary.


  • "An ideal anthology for an introductory course. Gendler, Siegel, and Cahn pair classic texts with readings of more recent vintage, preparing students for further courses in contemporary philosophy. I like every selection; discussions of trolley problems, The Matrix, consciousness, and time travel join familiar selections from Plato, Anselm, Descartes, and Mill in a balanced and comprehensive collection."--Ted Sider, New York University
  • "The Elements of Philosophy is an outstanding book on all fronts. The top-notch introductory essays and extensive glossary make the book extremely user-friendly from the student's perspective. The detailed set of high-quality instructors' materials do the same from the perspective of the professor. The readings are chosen with both care and creativity: I know of no comprehensive anthology that does such an excellent job of juxtaposing old and new materials. Elements is destined to become a standard."--Jason Stanley, Rutgers University
  • "The Elements of Philosophy is a carefully composed and arranged collection with useful introductions, notes, and glossary. With such an impressive range and variety of selections, any introductory class on philosophy can hardly do better than to start here."--Alex Byrne, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

About the Editors:
Note to the Reader:
Note to the Instructor:
Simon Blackburn, "What is Philosophy?"
Simon Blackburn, "The Elements of Logic"
A. Traditional Arguments for and Against the Existence of God
The Ontological Argument--and Replies
Anselm, "The Ontological Argument"
Gaunilo, "In Behalf of the Fool"
G.E. Moore, "Is Existence a Predicate?"
William Rowe, "Why the Ontological Argument Fails"
The Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Design--and Replies
Richard Taylor, "The Cosmological Argument"
William Paley, "The Argument from Design"
Ernest Nagel, "Does God Exist?"
The Problem of Evil--and Replies
John Hick, "The Problem of Evil"
Steven M. Cahn, "The Problem of Goodness"
B. Grounds for Belief
Pascal, "The Wager"
W.K. Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief"
William James, "The Will to Believe"
Robert McKim, "The Hiddenness of God"
C. God and Science: Contemporary Discussions
Nicholas Everitt, "Theism and Modern Science"
A. Three Major Ethical Theories
John Stuart Mill, "Utilitarianism"
J. J. C. Smart, "Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism"
Bernard Williams, "Utilitarianism, Integrity and Responsibility"
Immanuel Kant, Selections from The Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals
Onora O'Neill, "A Simplified Account of Kant's Ethics"
Virtue Ethics
Aristotle, Selections from The Nicomachean Ethics
Rosalind Hursthouse, "Normative Virtue Ethics"
B. Some Applications
Moral Duties to the Poor
Peter Singer, "Rich and Poor"
Garrett Hardin, "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor"
Thomas Pogge, "'Aiding' the Global Poor"
Vegetarianism and Animals
Alastair Norcross, "Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases"
Carl Cohen, "A Critique of the Alleged Moral Basis of Vegetarianism"
C. Puzzles and Challenges
Puzzling Cases
Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Trolley Problem"
Thomas Nagel, "Moral Luck"
The Value of Morality
Plato, "Glaucon's Challenge from The Republic"
Susan Wolf, "Moral Saints"
The Universality of Morality
James Rachels, "Egoism and Moral Skepticism"
James Rachels, "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism"
Morality and Social Science
Jennifer Saul, "Women's Different Voice"
Cass Sunstein, "Heurisitics and Morality"
D. Justice, Equality and the State
Thomas Hobbes, from Leviathan
John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness" from A Theory of Justice
Robert Nozick, "Distributive Justice" from Anarchy, State and Utopia
E. Just War
George Mavrodes, "Conventions and the Morality of War"
Robert Fullwinder, "War and Innocence"
Lawrence A. Alexander, "Self-Defense and Non-Combatants"
A. Defining Knowledge
Plato, "What is Knowledge?" (Selection from The Meno)
Edmund Gettier, "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?"
Robert Nozick, "Knowledge"
B. Skepticism and Responses
Descartes, Meditations 1&2
G.E. Moore, "Proof of an External World"
G.E. Moore, "Certainty"
Robert Nozick, "Skepticism"
Jonathan Vogel, "Cartesian Skepticism and Inference to the Best Explanation"
C. Knowledge and the Nature of Reality
Plato, "The Allegory of the Cave"
George Berkeley, Selections from "On the Principles of Human Knowledge"
W.V.O. Quine, "Posits and Reality"
Hilary Putnam, "Brains in a Vat"
David Chalmers, "The Matrix as Metaphysics"
Robert Nozick, "Fiction"
D. Induction
David Hume, "Induction"
Wesley Salmon, Selections from The Problem of Induction
Nelson Goodman, "The New Riddle of Induction"
E. Time and Time Travel
Albert Einstein, "Time and the Relativity of Simultaneity"
Theodore Sider, "Time"
David Lewis, "The Paradoxes of Time Travel"
F. Free Will
A.J. Ayer, "Freedom and Necessity"
Roderick Chisholm, "Human Freedom and the Self"
Harry Frankfurt, "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person"
P.F. Strawson, "Freedom and Resentment"
G. Identity and Personal Identity
John Locke, "Of Identity and Diversity"
Bernard Williams, "The Self and the Future"
Derek Parfit, "Personal Identity"
A. Metaphysics of Mind
Dualism and Behaviorism
Rene Descartes, Meditation 6
Kisor Kumar Chakrabarti, "A Comparison of Nyaya and Cartesian Dualism"
Gilbert Ryle, "Descartes' Myth"
Daniel Stoljar, "Physicalism"
J. J. C. Smart, "Sensations and Brain Processes"
Paul Churchland, "Eliminative Materialism and Propositional Attitudes"
Challenges to Physicalism
Saul Kripke, "The Modal Argument"
Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia"
B. Consciousness and Perception
Thomas Nagel, "What is it Like to be a Bat?"
Daniel Dennett, "Quining Qualia"
Ned Block, "Concepts of Consciousness"
Minds and Machines
A.M. Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"
John Searle, "Can Computers Think?"
J.J. Valberg, The Puzzle of Experience
A.J. Ayer, "The Argument from Illusion: A Defense of Sense Data"
J.L. Austin, "The Argument from Illusion: A Critique of Sense Data"
C. Language, Meaning and Reference
Paul Grice, "Logic and Conversation"
Noam Chomsky, "Language and Problems of Knowledge"
John Perry, "The Problem of the Essential Indexical"
A. Life
Plato, "On the Harmony of the Soul" from The Republic
Jean-Paul Sartre, "Existentialism is a Humanism"
Derek Parfit, "What Makes Someone's Life Go Best?"
Thomas Nagel, "The Absurd"
B. Death
Thomas Nagel, "Death"
Walter Kaufmann, "Death without Dread"

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Tamar Szabo Gendler is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Cognitive Sciences Program at Yale University. Susanna Siegel is Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. Steven Cahn is Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate School and University Center in the City University of New York.

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