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Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Introduction to Philosophy
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 What Is Philosophy?
    3. 1.2 How Do Philosophers Arrive at Truth?
    4. 1.3 Socrates as a Paradigmatic Historical Philosopher
    5. 1.4 An Overview of Contemporary Philosophy
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. References
    9. Review Questions
    10. Further Reading
  3. 2 Critical Thinking, Research, Reading, and Writing
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 The Brain Is an Inference Machine
    3. 2.2 Overcoming Cognitive Biases and Engaging in Critical Reflection
    4. 2.3 Developing Good Habits of Mind
    5. 2.4 Gathering Information, Evaluating Sources, and Understanding Evidence
    6. 2.5 Reading Philosophy
    7. 2.6 Writing Philosophy Papers
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. References
    11. Review Questions
    12. Further Reading
  4. 3 The Early History of Philosophy around the World
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 Indigenous Philosophy
    3. 3.2 Classical Indian Philosophy
    4. 3.3 Classical Chinese Philosophy
    5. Summary
    6. Key Terms
    7. References
    8. Review Questions
    9. Further Reading
  5. 4 The Emergence of Classical Philosophy
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Historiography and the History of Philosophy
    3. 4.2 Classical Philosophy
    4. 4.3 Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Philosophy
    5. Summary
    6. Key Terms
    7. References
    8. Review Questions
    9. Further Reading
  6. 5 Logic and Reasoning
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Philosophical Methods for Discovering Truth
    3. 5.2 Logical Statements
    4. 5.3 Arguments
    5. 5.4 Types of Inferences
    6. 5.5 Informal Fallacies
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. References
    10. Review Questions
    11. Further Reading
  7. 6 Metaphysics
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 Substance
    3. 6.2 Self and Identity
    4. 6.3 Cosmology and the Existence of God
    5. 6.4 Free Will
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. References
    9. Review Questions
    10. Further Reading
  8. 7 Epistemology
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 What Epistemology Studies
    3. 7.2 Knowledge
    4. 7.3 Justification
    5. 7.4 Skepticism
    6. 7.5 Applied Epistemology
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. References
    10. Review Questions
    11. Further Reading
  9. 8 Value Theory
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 The Fact-Value Distinction
    3. 8.2 Basic Questions about Values
    4. 8.3 Metaethics
    5. 8.4 Well-Being
    6. 8.5 Aesthetics
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. References
    10. Review Questions
    11. Further Reading
  10. 9 Normative Moral Theory
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Requirements of a Normative Moral Theory
    3. 9.2 Consequentialism
    4. 9.3 Deontology
    5. 9.4 Virtue Ethics
    6. 9.5 Daoism
    7. 9.6 Feminist Theories of Ethics
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. References
    11. Review Questions
    12. Further Reading
  11. 10 Applied Ethics
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 The Challenge of Bioethics
    3. 10.2 Environmental Ethics
    4. 10.3 Business Ethics and Emerging Technology
    5. Summary
    6. Key Terms
    7. References
    8. Review Questions
    9. Further Reading
  12. 11 Political Philosophy
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 Historical Perspectives on Government
    3. 11.2 Forms of Government
    4. 11.3 Political Legitimacy and Duty
    5. 11.4 Political Ideologies
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. References
    9. Review Questions
    10. Further Reading
  13. 12 Contemporary Philosophies and Social Theories
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 Enlightenment Social Theory
    3. 12.2 The Marxist Solution
    4. 12.3 Continental Philosophy’s Challenge to Enlightenment Theories
    5. 12.4 The Frankfurt School
    6. 12.5 Postmodernism
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. References
    10. Review Questions
  14. Index

12.1 Enlightenment Social Theory

Enlightenment thinkers proposed that human reason, coupled with empirical study of the physical world, would lead to progress—the advancement of science and the improvement of the human condition. Kant proposed that reason alone could guide individuals to identify ethical codes. The application of reason, in this way, would usher the human race toward a moral society in which each individual could enjoy the greatest freedom. However, this work of reasoning out the moral code could not be carried out by individuals but societies over a period of generations. Comte proposed the establishment of a science of society, which he called sociology. He believed that society, like an organism in nature, could be studied empirically. In this way, social problems could be addressed, and the human race could progress.

12.2 The Marxist Solution

Unlike Enlightenment social theorists, Marxist theorists did not try to solve social problems that arose from industrialization and urbanization. Rather, they worked toward removing the economic system that they felt caused these problems, capitalism. Marx proposed an alternative to the Hegelian dialectic, called dialectical materialism. He looked to the contradictions within material, real-world phenomena as the driving force of change. Marx regarded alienation and the clash of economic interests between the bourgeoisie (capitalists) and the proletariat (workers) as the contradiction that would bring down capitalism and give rise to a classless society.

12.3 Continental Philosophy’s Challenge to Enlightenment Theories

In the section dedicated to hermeneutics, or the exploration of meaning as it flows from interpreting written texts, critical theory’s stressing of context was continued. The section examined the notion of historicity or the claim that meaning is not somehow prior to reading a text (perhaps in the mind of the writer) but that meaning is somehow related to and generated from both the introduction of a text and the maintenance of that same text. Meaning may indeed by plural. Ricoeur went so far as to assert that the text does not say anything in and of itself. The text articulates what we as the interpreter generate. Thus, interpretation results in endless possibilities.

12.4 The Frankfurt School

While critical theory encompasses multiple perspectives, the origin of the approach is traced to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1923. There were several commonalities among Frankfurt School thinkers. Most adopted tenets from Karl Marx’s philosophy. Critical theorists sought to build upon Marx’s call to free humanity from oppressive economic and cultural forces. As noted by Max Horkheimer, a plausible critical theory must explain the ills of society, identify the means by which change can occur, and give a rubric for critique and articulate reasonable goals.

Equally as important to critical theory was the liberating of philosophy itself from what was perceived as the limiting boundaries as set by the key thinkers during the Enlightenment. Critical theory dethroned the prioritization of reason and replaced it with a reciprocal acknowledgment of the importance of context and reason. Hegel’s core concept of dialectical movement was also revised from an inevitable forecasting of predetermined events to a tool used to gain insight into specific historical contexts. Habermas’s notion of communicative action illustrates how critical theory has stressed context over objective reasoning when searching for meaning.

12.5 Postmodernism

Within the postmodernism perspective, there is no absolute truth, and there are multiple right ways of belief. The postmodern view challenges the intellectual faith born in modernity that humanity might someday come closer to discovering universal truths.

The tension between structuralism and post-structuralism parallels the tension between modernity and postmodernity. Ferdinand de Saussure advanced a theory in which meaning was embedded within a linguistic structure but the meaning itself is expressed through multiple mechanisms. With the so-called linguistic turn in philosophy, a challenge to the existence of universal systems (structures) was launched. As noted, three post-structuralist themes were: 1) the self itself is not static but a confluence of various forces, 2) the meaning of the author was secondary to the meaning derived from the audience, and 3) interpretations, even if conflicting, were necessarily plural. Derrida’s notion of deconstruction, of the need to consider the meaning accepted and the meaning obscured, followed intellectually from post-structuralism. If we deconstruct meaning, we work toward understanding the greater reasons surrounding why some interpretations were privileged and others rejected.

A “genealogy” is the historical map that traces the past origins of present meanings. Nietzsche and his radical historicism used genealogies to draw meanings in a world thought of a void of objective meanings. Michel Foucault argued that tracing genealogies can help us expose shameful origins of practices and ideologies that foster oppression. Foucault sought to expose when power was used to oppress and when it was used to harm. Knowledge, argued Foucault, once freed from oppressive conventions, ought to be used to develop the self.

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