Philosophical Problems

Prentice Hall
Laurence BonJour / Ann Baker
Dezember 2007


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Philosophical Problems
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For courses in Introductory Philosophy.


Edited and assembled by one of philosophy's foremost scholars in collaboration with a distinguished teacher, this introductory anthology offers both classic and contemporary primary source readings and schools students in developing distinctly philosophical habits of mind.


In addition to the fine selection of primary source readings, this anthology offers a unique array of pedagogical features that, together, form a “roadmap” for thinking philosophically.  These features begin with an introductory essay, followed by chapter introductions and marginal annotations that accompany the readings, and conclude with discussion questions and an appendix on writing about philosophy.   


  • “How Philosophers Think” introduces the reader to the methods of thinking and argument that analytic philosophers use.
  • Chapter Introductions andReading Introductions provide background and context for each major topic and for individual readings and philosophers.
  • Discussion Questions follow each reading, addressing deeper comprehension issues such as considering objections or alternate cases. They can also be used as homework assignments or paper topics.
  • Unique marginal annotations-classified according to purpose-(e.g. Definition, Stop-and-Think) offer concurrent guidance for understanding and absorbing the major points of the primary texts.
  • Juxtaposition of traditional texts with more recent ones helps students see how philosophers throughout the ages have engaged in an ongoing debate on universal questions and how the philosophies of yesterday are just as relevant and meaningful to our existence today.
  • Readings“talk” to one another through cross-references in the introductions. Each chapter is designed with an internal coherence so that a philosophical problem is presented as a conversation manifested in the readings, often over hundreds of years.
  • “How to Write a Philosophy Paper,” found in the appendix, reinforces the concepts of argument to show students how to propose and defend their own arguments on philosophical or practical issues.
  • New to this Edition

    • The annotations now appear in the margins of the text, and are clearly distinguished and classified into several categories according to their purpose, including:
      • Stop-and-Think, which encourage critical thinking
      • Definition/Concept, which clarify challenging terms or ideas
      • Outside (Editor) Comment which offer analysis from the text's editors, Lawrence BonJour and Ann Baker
    • New, chapter-ending feature - Concluding Dialogue - picks up where the Outside Comment annotations leave off.  They each present a dialogue between the editors of the book, summarizing the primary concepts in the chapter, modeling philosophical thinking, and demonstrating the essentially dialectical nature of philosophical inquiry.
    • The chapter and selection introductions, annotations, and discussion questions have all been thoroughly reconsidered and substantially revised, and readings have been replaced or re-edited to create manageable yet comprehensive reading assignments.  
    • Chapter 1 has been greatly revised to create a more comprehensive section on informal logic and a fuller introduction to the text and course.  The introductory essay now includes a detailed consideration of two actual passages drawn from the readings in the text.
    • The chapters have been reorganized for a more logical flow.  The "God and Faith" chapter has been moved toward the end of the book, where students will be better prepared to encounter it, and the personal identity section has been removed from the philosophy of mind chapter and combined into one chapter with the previous free will chapter.
    • A larger trim size and a two color design makes for a clearer, more student-friendly and accessible layout.  

    Table of Contents

    *Selections new to this edition are indicated with an asterisk


    Preface to the 2nd Edition 

    For the Student: An Introduction to the Annotations 

    Chapter 1    What is Philosophy? 

    Ann Baker: Philosophical Thinking 

    Plato: Euthyphro 

    Plato: Apology 

    Bertrand Russell: The Value of Philosophy 


    Chapter 2    Knowledge and Skepticism 

    Do We Have Knowledge of the External World? 

    René Descartes: From Meditations on First Philosophy 

    John Locke: From An Essay Concerning Human Understanding 

    George Berkeley: From Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous 

    Thomas Reid: Direct Realism, from Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man 

    Laurence BonJour: Knowledge of the External World, from Epistemology: Classic Problems and Contemporary Responses 

    Sextus Empiricus: From Outlines of Pyrrhonism

    Concluding Dialogue on the External World* 

    Is Induction Justified? 

    David Hume: Skeptical Doubts Concerning the Operations of the Understanding, from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 

    Wesley Salmon: The Problem of Induction, from The Foundations of Scientific Inference

    A. C. Ewing: The “A Priori” and the Empirical, from The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy 

    Concluding Dialogue on the Problem of Induction* 


    Chapter 3    Minds and Bodies 

    Are Minds and Mental States Distinct from Bodies and Material States? 

    John Foster: A Defense of Dualism 

    J. J. C. Smart: Sensations and Brain Processes 

    Jerry Fodor: The Mind-Body Problem

    Are Intentional Mental States Analogous to the States of a Computer? 

    A. M. Turing: Computing Machinery and Intelligence 

    John R. Searle: Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program? 

    Jerry Fodor: Searle on What Only Brains Can Do 

    John R. Searle: Author's Response 

    Can Materialism Account for Qualitative Consciousness? 

    Thomas Nagel: What Is It Like to Be a Bat? 

    Frank Jackson: What Mary Didn't Know 

    Laurence BonJour: What Is It Like to Be a Human (Instead of a Bat)? 

    David Lewis: Knowing What It's Like 

    David J. Chalmers: The Puzzle of Conscious Experience 

    Concluding Dialogue on the Mind-Body Problem*


    Chapter 4    Personal Identity and Free Will

    What is Required for Personal Identity?  

    John Locke: Personal Identity 

    Thomas Reid: Of Mr. Locke's Account of Personal Identity 

    Bernard Williams: The Self and the Future 

    Derek Parfit: Personal Identity 

    Concluding Dialogue on Personal Identity *

    Are Human Actions Genuinely Free? 

    Hard Determinism

    Robert Blatchford: A Defense of Hard Determinism, from Not Guilty: A Defense of the Bottom Dog 


    David Hume: Of Liberty and Necessity 

    W. T. Stace: A Compatibalist Account of Free Will, from Religion and the Modern Mind 

    Paul Edwards: Hard and Soft Determinism 

    Harry Frankfurt: Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person* 


    C. A. Campbell: In Defense of Free Will 

    Robert Nozick: Choice and Indeterminism, from Philosophical Explanations  

    Robert Kane: Free Will and Modern Science, from A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will* 

    Back to Hard Determinism?

    Galen Strawson: Free Will

    Concluding Dialogue on Free Will*


    Chapter 5    Morality and Moral Problems 

    What Is the Best Theory of Morality: Utilitarianism, Deontological Views, or Virtue Ethics? 

    Utilitarianism: Morality Depends on Consequences

    Jeremy Bentham: From An Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation  

    John Stuart Mill: From Utilitarianism 

    J. J. C. Smart: Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism 

    Bernard Williams: A Critique of Utilitarianism 

    Peter Singer:Famine, Affluence, and Morality* 

    Deontological Views: Morality Depends on Duties and Rights

    Immanuel Kant: From Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals 

    Onora O'Neill: The Moral Perplexities of Famine Relief 

    David T. Ozar: Rights: What They Are and Where They Come From 

    Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion 

    Virtue Ethics: Morality Depends on Character Traits

    Aristotle: From The Nichomachean Ethics 

    Rosalind Hursthouse: Normative Virtue Ethics 

    Rosalind Hursthouse: Virtue Theory and Abortion* 

    Challenges to Morality: Relativism and Egoism

    James Rachels: The Challenge of Cultural Relativism 

    Joel Feinberg: Psychological Egoism 

    Plato: Are We Better Off Behaving Morally or Immorally? 

    Concluding Dialogue on Morality and Moral Problems* 


    Chapter 6    The Legitimacy of Government and The Nature of Justice 

    What Is the Justification for Government?

    Thomas Hobbes: The Social Contract, from Leviathan 

    John Locke: The Social Contract, from Second Treatise of Government  

    David Hume: Of the Original Contract 

    What Is Social Justice?

    Robert Nozick: The Entitlement Theory of Justice, from Anarchy, State, and Utopia 

    John Rawls: Justice as Fairness, from A Theory of Justice 

    Robert Nozick: A Critique of Rawls, from Anarchy, State, and Utopia 

    Thomas M. Scanlon: Nozick on Rights, Liberty, and Property 

    Concluding Dialogue on Government and Justice*


    Chapter 7    God and Faith 

    Does God Exist? 

    The Cosmological Argument

    St. Thomas Aquinas: The Five Ways, from Summa Theologica 

    Samuel Clarke: The Cosmological Argument, from A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God 

    David Hume: Problems with the Cosmological Argument, from Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 

    The Argument from Design

    William Paley: The Argument from Design, from Natural Theology 

    Stephen Jay Gould: The Panda's Thumb 

    David Hume: Problems with the Argument from Design, from Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 

    Antony Flew: Critique of the Global Argument from Design, from God: A Critical Inquiry 

    The Ontological Argument

    St. Anselm: The Ontological Argument, from Proslogion*

    René Descartes: The Ontological Argument 

    Immanuel Kant: The Impossibility of an Ontological Proof of the Existence of God 

    An Argument Against the Existence of God: The Problem of Evil 

    David Hume: The Problem of Evil, from Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 

    J. L. Mackie: Evil and Omnipotence 

    John Hick: The Problem of Evil, from Philosophy of Religion 

    Must We Have Reasons to Believe in God?

    Walter Kaufmann: Pascal's Wager, from Critique of Religion and Philosophy 

    William James: The Will to Believe 

    Concluding Dialogue on God and Faith*


    Chapter 8    Philosophy and The Good Life 

    Epictetus: from the Manual 

    Robert Nozick: The Experience Machine 

    Thomas Nagel: The Absurd 

    Susan Wolf: Happiness and Meaning: Two Aspects of the Good Life 

    Concluding Dialogue on the Good Life*