Consider Philosophy

Prentice Hall
Bruce N. Waller  
Total pages
October 2010
Related Titles


Consider Philosophy is based on the belief that philosophy is filled with fascinating questions. It is designed to invite every student into deep, enjoyable, and accessible philosophical exploration. Featuring selections from the world's most influential philosophers, this combination of primary texts and explanatory pedagogy presents philosophy in a clear, accessible way that does not sacrifice rigor.


Making connections among different philosophical theories throughout, Consider Philosophy  helps students to engage in subject matter and apply theories to important philosophical issues.  It offers a balance of theory and applications through a mix of text and readings, and begins each chapter covering philosophical theory, followed by related, classical readings. 


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Distinctive Features: 

A conversational style and reader-friendly text will appeal to the interests of both students and teachers alike.

An approach that emphasizes the strongest arguments and positions on each question; making clear that many philosophical questions remain open and disputed issues -- inviting students to draw their own conclusions.

All of the accessible readings were selected to engage students -- while ranging over key philosophical questions and eras, from Aristotle to contemporary work.

Exercises introduce significant philosophical questions while avoiding simplistic “find the right answer” formats. They promote discussion by placing philosophical questions into the context of student life.

The subjects of this text are given firm grounding from which to begin dissection rather than posing philosophical issues as isolated exercises.  For example: Rather than simply examining the question of skepticism, the text examines the social factors that prompt periods of skepticism; rather than considering questions about the mind as a purely abstract philosophical exercise.

"Additional Reading" sections help identify extra material for students or teachers interested in expanding upon what the text already offers.

A glossary provides key defnitions of main concepts wihtin each chapter.


New to this Edition


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter One:  Thinking Critically and Cordially About Philosophy

            What is Philosophy?

            Thinking Critically and Playing Fair

                    Deductive and Inductive Arguments

                    Thinking Critically and Cooperatively

                    Irrelevant Reason Fallacy

                    Ad Hominem Arguments

                    Strawman Fallacy

                    Appeal to Authority


                    Plato, Apology

                    Bertrand Russell, The Value of Philosophy


            Additional Reading


Chapter Two:  Philosophical Questions About Religion

            Conceptions of God

            Arguments for the Existence of God

                        The Cosmological Argument

                        The Ontological Argument

                        The Argument from Design

                        The Intuitive Argument

            Pascal's Wager

            The Problem of Evil

            Ockham's Razor

            Do Science and Religion Occupy Different Spheres?


                        From Genesis and Exodus

                        Spinoza, from A Theologico-Political Treatise

                        Aristotle, from The Metaphysics

                        St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (The Five Ways)

                        Leibniz, from Theodicy

                        Stephen Gould, “Non-Overlapping Magisteria”

                        Richard Dawkins,  “You Can't Have it Both Ways: Irreconcilable Differences?”


            Additional Reading


Chapter Three:  What Can We Know?




                        Descartes and Reason

                        Descartes' Method of Doubt

                        I Think, Therefore I Exist

                        The Lasting Influence of Descartes


                        Descartes, Meditations, 1 and 2

                        Wittgenstein, from On Certainty


            Additional Reading


Chapter Four:  Rationalism, Empiricism, Kant


            God said, Let Newton Be


                        John Locke

                        David Hume

            Immanuel Kant


                        David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, sections 2 and 12

                        Immanuel Kant, from Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics


            Additional Reading


Chapter Five:  Contemporary Epistemology

            Permanence and Change





                        William James, from Pragmatism

                        Bertrand Russell, “Transatlantic Truth”

                        John Dewey, from Reconstruction in Philosophy


            Additional Reading


Chapter Six:  What Is the Mind?

            Mechanism and the Mind

            Descartes and Mind-Body Dualism

                        Advantages of Mind-Body Dualism

                        Problems for Mind-Body Dualism


            Preestablished Harmony




            Dual-Aspect Theory





                        Descartes, Meditations, 6

                        Daniel Dennett, “Where Am I?”

                        Thomas Nagel, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”


            Additional Reading


Chapter Seven: Personal Identity

            Practical Implications of Personal Identity

            Physical Identity

            Souls and Personal Identity

            Memory and Identity

            Science Fiction and Personal Identity Problems

            Beyond Personal Identity

            Strains on Our Ordinary Concept of Personal Identity

            Identity and the One

            The Narrative Account of Personal Identity

                        Narrative Truth

                        Our Modular Brain

                        Narrative Accountability


                        John Locke, from Essay Concerning Human Understanding

                        David Hume, from A Treatise of Human Nature

                        Derek Parfit, from Reasons and Persons

                        Alasdair MacIntyre, from After Virtue


            Additional Reading


Chapter Eight: Fatalism, Determinism, Free Will


            Fatalism and Determinism


                        Reactions to Determinism


                        Lorenzo de Valla, “Dialogue on Free Will  

                        Martin Luther, from Bondage of the Will

                        David Hume, Enquiry Concerning the Human Understanding


            Additional Reading


Chapter 9: Is Free Will Compatible With Determinism?

            Does Determinism Destroy Creativity?

            Does Determinism Destroy Free Will?

                        Hard Determinism

                        Soft Determinism (Compatibilism)

                        Hume's Compatibilism

                        Hierarchical Compatibilism

                        Challenges to Hierarchical Compatibilism

                        Rationalist Compatibilism


                        William James, from Pragmatism

                        Harry G. Frankfurt, “Freedom of Will and the Concept of a Person”

                        Susan Wolf, “Asymmetrical Freedom”


            Additional Reading


Chapter 10: Are We Morally Responsible?

            Libertarian Free Will

            What About Moral Responsibility?

                        Strong Feelings and Moral Responsibility


                        Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, “Oration on the Dignity of Man”

                        C. A. Campbell, from On Selfhood and Godhood

                        Thomas Nagel, “Moral Luck”

                        Daniel Dennett, from Elbow Room

                        Bruce N. Waller, “Uneven Starts and Just Deserts”


            Additional Reading


Chapter 11: Ethics: Reason and Emotion

            Kantian Rationalist Ethics

            Utilitarian Ethics

                        Criticisms of Utilitarianism


                        David Hume, from A Treatise of Human Nature

                        Immanuel Kant, from Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals

                        Jonathan Bennett, “The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn”

                        John Stuart Mill, from Utilitarianism


            Additional Reading


Chapter 12:  Ethical Theories

            Divine Command Theory of Ethics



            Social Contract Ethics

            Care Ethics


                        James Rachels, “God and Human Attitudes”

                        George N. Schlesinger, from New Perspectives on Old-Time Religion

                        Elvin Hatch, “The Good Side of Relativism”

                        Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

                        Jean Hampton,“Two Faces of Contractarian Thought”

                        Annette Baier,“What Do Women Want in a Moral Theory?”


            Additional Reading


Chapter 13:  Are There Objective Ethical Truths?


            Virtue Ethics

            Ethical Nonobjectivism

                        The Argument from Diversity

                        The Argument from Queerness

            Contemporary Moral Realism


                        W. D. Ross, from The Right and the Good

                        Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics

                        J. L. Mackie, from Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong

                        Michael Smith, “Realism”

                        Richard Rorty, from Philosophy and Social Hope


            Additional Reading


Chapter 14: Political Philosophy

            Justification of Government

                        The Social Contract

            Obeying or Disobeying the Law

            Liberal and Conservative

            Positive and Negative Liberty


                        Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from “The Origin of Inequality”

                        Henry David Thoreau, from “Resistance to Civil Government”

                        John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty

                        Eric Mack, "Liberty and Justice"

                        Hugh LaFollette, "Why Libertarianism Is Mistaken"


            Additional Reading



Dr. Bruce N. Waller is Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University. He received his Ph.D. in 1979 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His other works include Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues, Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict, You Decide! Current Debates in Criminal Justice, You Decide! Current Debates in Contemporary Moral Problems, You Decide! Current Debates in Introductory Philosophy, You Decide! Current Debates in Ethics, and Coffee and Philosophy: A Conversational Introduction to Philosophy with Readings.

Reader Review(s)

It is not overloaded and excessive, nor is it superficial and "dumbed down." It contains important primary readings, helpful "questions for thought," and a useful glossary at the end of each chapter.

-Professor Robert Gall, WestLiberty StateCollege


Wide-ranging, engaging, clear, comprehensible, geared toward students learning how to think philosophically rather than just understand or recite philosophical arguments.

-Professor Julinna Oxley, Coastal Carolina University


Its got broad topical and historical coverage and it's organized well for semester teaching.

-Professor Sean Stidd, WayneState University


“The strength of the book is its straightforward writing style that doesn't complicate things too much for intro students, and the questions for reflection that are at the end of the chapters. These are the kinds of questions my students could write an essay on instead of writing a paper.”

- Julinna Oxley, Coastal Carolina University 


“The text seems to strike the right balance in terms of the amount of material covered. It is not overloaded and excessive, nor is it superficial and "dumbed down." It contains important primary readings, helpful "questions for thought," and a useful glossary at the end of each chapter.”

- Robert Gall, West Liberty State College


“The questions at the end of each chapter are great. They are not just questions of what was stated in the chapter, but are straightforward, compelling questions or thought experiments that students at any level could understand and attempt to answer. I also like the quotes in the boxes, which were from a wide variety of sources, including history and culture. These are useful and interesting without distracting from the main line of argument or questions being raised. The writing is also clear and straightforward, without too much complexity.”

- Julinna Oxley, Coastal Carolina University 


“The writing style is very clear and straightforward. This is great. The level is appropriate for students and is not so long-winded. (I think they would not complain about Waller's writing.) Also, the examples used to introduce the topics at the beginning of each chapter are great. He also guides the reader through how to think of the issues, and doesn't just try to explain things. Focus on determinism. Now that helps the student focus on the topic at hand which may be hard for them to do.”

- Julinna Oxley, Coastal Carolina University


“I very much like the author's writing style and his introduction to key issues in philosophy. He makes complicated issues interesting and accessible and he locates them within a broader social perspective that includes historical facts, religious pressures, and political conditions. This would be a very welcome addition to my teaching introduction to philosophy.”

- Jennifer Lackey, Northwestern University

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