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The Philosophers Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

The Philosophers Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

Julian Baggini, Peter S. Fosl

ISBN: 978-0-631-22874-5

Oct 2002, Wiley-Blackwell

232 pages

Select type: Paperback

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Description


The Philosophers' Toolkit provides all the intellectual equipment necessary to engage with and participate in philosophical argument, reading and reflection. Each of its 87 entries explains how to use an important concept or argumentative technique accurately and effectively.

Part I: Basic Tools for Argument:.

1. Arguments, Premises and Conclusions.

2. Deduction.

3. Induction.

4. Validity and Soundness.

5. Invalidity.

6. Consistency.

7. Fallacies.

8. Refutation.

9. Axioms.

10. Definitions.

11. Certainty and Probability.

12. Tautologies, Self-Contradictions and the Law of Non-Contradiction.

Part II: Further Tools for Argument:.

13. Abduction.

14. Hypothetico-Deductive Method.

15. Dialectic.

16. Analogies.

17. Anomalies and Exceptions that Prove the Rule.

18. Intuition Pumps.

19. Logical Constructions.

20. Reduction.

21. Thought Experiments.

22. Transcendental Arguments.

23. Useful Fictions.

Part III: Tools for Assessment:.

24. Alternative Explanations.

25. Ambiguity.

26. Bivalence and the Excluded Middle.

27. Category Mistakes.

28. Ceteris Paribus.

29. Circularity.

30. Conceptual Incoherence.

31. Counterexamples.

32. Criteria.

33. Error Theory.

34. False Dichotomy.

35. Genetic Fallacy.

36. Horned Dilemmas.

37. Hume's Fork.

38. Is/ought Gap.

39. Leibniz's Law of Identity.

40. Masked Man Fallacy.

41. Ockham's Razor.

42. Paradoxes.

43. Partners in Guilt.

44. Principles of Charity.

45. Question-Begging.

46. Reductions.

47. Redundancy.

48. Regresses.

49. Saving the Phenomena.

50. Self-defeating Arguments.

51. Sufficient Reason.

52. Testability.

Part IV: Tools for Conceptual Distinctions:.

53. A Priori/A Posteriori.

54. Absolute/Relative.

55. Analytic/Synthetic.

56. Categorical/Modal.

57. Conditional/Biconditional.

58. Defeasible/Indefeasible.

59. Entailment/Implication.

60. Essence/Accident.

61. Knowledge by Acquaintance/Description.

62. Necessary/Contingent.

63. Necessary/Sufficient.

64. Objective/Subjective.

65. Realist/Non-Realist.

66. Sense/Reference.

67. Syntax/Semantics.

68. Thick/Thin Concepts.

69. Types/Tokens.

Part V: Tools for Radical Critique:.

70. Class Critique.

71. Deconstruction and the Critique of Presence.

72. Empiricist Critique of Metaphysics.

73. Feminist Critiques.

74. Foucaultian Critique of Power.

75. Heideggerian Critique of Metaphysics.

76. Lacanian Critique.

77. Nietzschean Critique of Christian-Platonic Culture.

78. Pragmatist Critique.

79. Sartrean Critique of 'Bad Faith'.

Part VI: Tools at the Limit:.

80. Basic Beliefs.

81. G;del and Incompleteness.

82. Mystical Experience and Revelation.

83. Possibility and Impossibility.

84. Primitives.

85. Self-evident Truths.

86. Scepticism.

87. Underdetermination.

Appendix: Web Resources.

"The Philosopher’s Toolkit is a very good book. It could be highly useful for both introductory courses in philosophy, or philosophical methodology, as well as independent study for anyone interested in the methods of argument, assessment and criticism used in contemporary analytic philosophy. It is unique in approach, and written in a pleasant and considerate tone. Its authors are both competent philosophers, and the book visibly reflects their deep sympathy to the discipline and their appreciation of its unique character. This book will help one to get going to do philosophy, but more advanced students might find this text helpful too. I wish I had had access to this book as an undergraduate." Teaching Philosophy

"...the average person who is interested in arguments and logic but who doesn't have much background in philosophy would certainly find this book useful, as would anyone teaching a course on arguments, logic, and reasoning. Even introductory courses on philosophy in general might benefit because the book lays out so many of the conceptual "tools" which will prove necessary over students' careers." About.com

"The Philosopher’s Toolkit provides a welcome and useful addition to the introductory philosophy books available. It takes the beginner through most of the core conceptual tools and distinctions used by philosophers, explaining them simply and with abundant examples. Newcomers to philosophy will find much in here that will help them to understand the subject."David S. Oderberg, University of Reading <!--end-->

"Its choice of tools for basic argument ... is sound, while further tools for argument ... move through topics and examples concisely and wittily... Sources are well chosen and indicated step by step. Sections are cross-referenced (making it better than the Teach Youself "100 philosophical concepts") and supported by a useful index." Reference Reviews

"This book is ... an encyclopedia of philosophy. It should be of great use as a quick and accurate reference guide to the skill of philosophy, especially for beginners, but also for instructors ... highly recommended." Choice

How to use this book

As in fine woodworking or surgery, doing philosophy well requires the use of precise and carefully crafted tools.

The Philosopher's Toolkit provides a collection�or, as we like to call it, a compendium�of the most important among them. This is no philosophy for dummies but a larder of clear, terse, and sophisticated resources from which its users can draw. The entries in the Toolkit present the reader with the most powerful concepts, principles, and methods philosophers have developed over the last two and a half millennia�tools with a proven track record of helping us to think and live better. Simply put the Toolkit contains what anyone who wants to read or do philosophy in a serious way ought to know.

One needn't, however, be a professional or an academic or even a student to use the Toolkit. Entries have been written to be accessible to a wide audience, and they include examples just how each tool might be employed. Tools can be read sequentially, as the text is arranged from the more basic to the more advanced. Or, one can simply pick up and use each tool as the need arises in the course of reading or writing.

Of course, the Toolkit offers a lot to university courses, as well. It may serve as a useful secondary text for a wide variety of courses. The tools it contains on topics like induction, essence, skepticism, and identity will enhance a wide variety of courses---from introduction to philosophy, to logic and critical thinking, to environmental ethics, to epistemology and metaphysics, to courses in the history of philosophy. The Toolkit is also a balanced, pluralistic text. It contains not only tools (like the empiricist critique of metaphysics, pragmatism, and underdetermination) relevant to analytic and Anglo-American philosophy but also entries on decontstruction, Heidegger, Foucault, and Lacan important to those of a continental bent. Each entry is accompanied by a thoughtful list of additional readings on the topic and the text also includes a set of Internet references.


  • Provides all the intellectual equipment necessary to engage with and participate in philosophical argument and criticism.
  • Makes essential philosophical concepts available to students in an unusually concise and easily digestible format.
  • Includes substantive philosophical discussion of crucial distinctions and famous philosophical strategies.
  • The 87 entries are extensively cross-referenced, illustrated with lively examples, and accompanied by suggestions for further reading.