Classic Philosophical Questions, 14th edition

  • Robert J. Mulvaney

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Classic Philosophical Questions is an anthology of primary source readings covering the most enduring questions in philosophy. Taken from ancient, modern and contemporary sources, this comprehensive resource challenges you to think critically and question your assumptions.

Philosophical issues are presented in a neutral way, with both pro and con arguments for various positions. Each section starts with a “To Think About it” question, allowing you to consider your own thoughts before diving into the reading. These questions and quotations are designed to spark spirited debates and help you examine your own thinking, discern hidden values, evaluate evidence and assess the validity of your conclusions.

Both classic and contemporary primary source readings give you first-hand accounts and experiences of all of the major branches of philosophy. New readings include:

  • The Phaedo: Virtue and Socrates' View of Death
  • Boethius: God Can Allow Some Evil
  • John Hick: Evil, Human Freedom and Moral Development
  • John Stuart Mill: Determinism and Freedom Are Compatible
  • Richard Taylor: Humans Are Free
  • Plato: The Soul is Immortal and Imperishable
  • Joseph Butler: Human Beings Survive Death
  • David Hume: Life After Death Is Philosophically Unprovable
  • Benjamin Barber: Strong Democracy Is Best

Each reading presents an introduction highlighting important themes, a biography of the author and further reading for you to explore the issues presented in even greater detail. Study questions after each selection let you immediately test your understanding of key arguments. To help you progress through the reading, a glossary defines unfamiliar terms and study guides provide extra support, structure and focus.

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Published by Pearson (July 14th 2021) - Copyright © 2021

ISBN-13: 9780137559732

Subject: Philosophy

Category: Introduction to Philosophy



  1. BRIEF


  • Part 1: Socrates and the Nature of Philosophy
  • Part 2: Philosophy of Religion
  • Part 3: Ethics
  • Part 4: Knowledge
  • Part 5: Metaphysics
  • Part 6: Social and Political Philosophy
  • Part 7: Aesthetics
  • Part 8: Philosophy and the Good Life


Part 1: Socrates and the Nature of Philosophy

  • What is Philosophy?
    • The Euthyphro: Defining Philosophical Terms
    • The Apology: Socrates’ Trial and Defense
    • The Crito: Socrates’ Refusal to Escape
    • The Phaedo: Virtue and Socrates’ View of Death

Part 2: Philosophy of Religion

  • Can We Prove That God Exists?
    • St. Anselm: The Ontological Argument
    • St. Thomas Aquinas: The Cosmological Argument
    • William Paley: The Teleological Argument
    • Blaise Pascal: It is Better to Believe in God's Existence Than to Deny it.
  • Does the Idea of a Good God Exclude Evil?
    • Boethius: God Can Allow Some Evil.
    • David Hume: A Good God Would Exclude Evil.
    • John Hick: Evil, Human Freedom and Moral Development

Part 3: Ethics

  • Are Ethics Relative?
    • Ruth Benedict: Ethics Are Relative
    • W. T. Stace: Ethics Are Not Relative
  • Are Humans Always Selfish?
    • Humans Are Always Selfish: Glaucon's Challenge to Socrates
    • James Rachels: Humans Are Not Always Selfish
  • Which is Basic in Ethics: Happiness or Obligation?
    • Aristotle: Happiness Is Living Virtuously
    • Jeremy Bentham: Happiness Is Seeking the Greatest Pleasure for the Greatest Number of People
    • Immanuel Kant: Duty Is Prior to Happiness
    • Friedrich Nietzsche: Happiness Is Having Power
    • Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialist Ethics
    • Virginia Held: Feminist Ethics Are Different

Part 4: Knowledge

  • What is Knowledge?
    • Plato: Knowledge Is “Warranted True Belief”
  • What Method is Best For Acquiring Knowledge?
    • Charles Sanders Peirce: Four Approaches to Philosophy
  • How Do We Acquire Knowledge?
    • René Descartes: Knowledge Is Not Ultimately Sense Knowledge
    • John Locke: Knowledge is Ultimately Sensed
    • Immanuel Kant: Knowledge Is Both Rational and Empirical.
  • How Is Truth Established?
    • Bertrand Russell: Truth Is Established By Correspondence
    • Brand Blanshard: Truth Means Coherence
    • William James: Truth Is Established by Pragmatic Means
  • Can We Know the Nature of Causal Relations?
    • David Hume: Cause Means Regular Association
    • David Hume: There Are No Possible Grounds for Induction

Part 5: Metaphysics

  • Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
    • Parmenides: Being Is Uncaused
    • Lao-Tzu: Non-Being Is the Source of Being
  • Is Reality General Or Particular?
    • Plato: Universals Are Real
    • David Hume: Particulars Are Real
  • Of What Does Reality Consist?
    • René Descartes: Reality Consists of Mind and Matter
    • Paul Churchland: Reality Consists of Matter
    • George Berkeley: Reality Consists of Ideas
    • John Dewey: Reality Consists of Mental and Physical Qualities
  • Are Humans Free?
    • Holbach: Humans Are Determined
    • John Stuart Mill: Determinism and Freedom Are Compatible
    • Richard Taylor: Humans Are Free
  • Do Humans Have an Identical Self?
    • John Locke: Humans Beings Have an Identical Self
    • David Hume: Human Beings Have No Identical Self
  • Is There Life After Death?
    • Plato: The Soul is Immortal and Imperishable
    • Joseph Butler: Human Beings Survive Death
    • David Hume: Life After Death Is Philosophically Unprovable

Part 6: Social and Political Philosophy

  • What is Liberty?
    • Fyodor Dostoevski: Liberty and Authority
    • John Stuart Mill: Liberty is Independence from the Majority's Tyranny
    • Martin Luther King Jr.: Liberty and Racial Prejudice
    • Simone de Beauvoir: Women's Liberation.
  • Which Government is Best?
    • Thomas Hobbes: Monarchy Is Best
    • John Locke: Democracy Is Best
    • Karl Marx: Communism and Nonalienated Labor Is Best
    • Benjamin Barber: ‘Strong Democracy’ Is Best

Part 7: Aesthetics

  • What Constitutes The Experience of Beauty?
    • Plotinus: Beauty, Sensuous and Ideal
  • What is the Function of Art?
    • Aristotle: The Nature of Tragedy
    • Henri Bergson: The Nature of Comedy

Part 8: Philosophy and the Good Life

  • Two Classic Views of the Good Life
    • Epicurus and the Pleasant Life
    • Epictetus and the Life of Self-Control
  • What Gives Life Meaning?
    • Leo Tolstoy: Faith Provides Life's Meaning
    • Albert Camus: Life's Meaning Is Determined by Each Individual
  • What Is the Value Of Philosophy?
    • Bertrand Russell: The Value of Philosophy to Individual Life.
    • John Dewey: The Value of Philosophy to Society


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