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Making Sense: Philosophy Behind the Headlines Paperback – 11 Sep 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (11 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192805061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192805065
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 2.8 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 945,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Julian Baggini's books include The Ego Trick, Welcome to Everytown, What's It All About? - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life and The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, all published by Granta Books. He writes for several newspapers and magazines and is co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine.

Product Description

Amazon Review

There are numerous good introductory books on philosophy but Julian Baggini's Making Sense: Philosophy Behind the Headlines is of immediate practical benefit because it takes important, emotive headline news stories as its subject matter. Baggini identifies the relevant and significant philosophical themes behind the headlines and shows how the press frequently neglect critical philosophical questions and distinctions in their presentation of serious news items.

The book begins by clarifying exactly what is meant by "philosophy" before explaining how it relates to the real-world concerns of the news media. Of the 10 chapters several analyse arguments around issues of immediate and pressing importance such as those used to justify war or those used to promote or attack the introduction of GMO foods. Other topics include the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, the status of science and the trustworthiness of scientists, abortion, euthanasia and the nature of the self as well as the process of valuation concerning the relative worth of public projects such as the Tate Modern and the Millennium Dome. In a chapter discussing the Waco siege and the Branch Davidians, religious believers are challenged to distinguish between dangerously irrational cults and any kind of religious faith. Throughout the book philosophical concepts such as "rights", "freedom", and "equality" are examined and techniques of philosophical analysis are brought to bear only in so far as they shed light upon the topics under discussion.

Baggini has an enviably clear, accessible and jargon-free style but what's most valuable about Making Sense is that it urges us not only to habitually examine the arguments found in the major news stories, but also to pay special attention to our own argumentative strategies in order to uncover our own unexamined prejudices. --Larry Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


In this excellent book, Baggini takes ten news stories from recent years and uses them to illustrate a constructive relationship between philosophy and real life. The stories that make the cornerstone of his discussions have been well selected, providing clear access to an impressively uncomplicated tutorial on the underlying arguments. The key point is that the philosophy has a valuable part to play in deciphering the media, and that the media can show us which of our intellectual tools are really useful. A pudding proved, in this case, in the eating. (Good Book Guide, February 2003)

An excellent book that brings a good breath of philosophical fresh air into consideration of the philosophical issues behind the headlines... The book is well written and will appeal to those wishing to get behind the headlines with some clear thinking. (Scientific and Medical Network, 2002)

...a compelling narrative that challenges how we make sense both of the world around us and of our own beliefs. (Publishing News, July 2002)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 April 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have found this book to be both an excellent read and a genuinely useful tool in cutting through the muddled thinking that most of us suffer from when considering world events.
Rather than make overt moral judgements, the author instead invites us to use the discipline of philosophical analysis to look at our opinions on current affairs and better understand what we really think and why we feel it. It if sounds burdensome, rest assured - it's not. A highly enjoyable read.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Luciano Lupini on 16 Feb 2004
Format: Paperback
Julian Baggini, editor of The Philosopher's Magazine, has written a wonderful contribution, for the layman. One that enables us to easily understand, from a practical standpoint, the central issues of modern philosophy. This is a very well written and readable book. It dwells with the concepts and meaning of war, morality, faith, truth, amongst other, from a philosopher's perspective. At the same time, the author clearly teaches how everybody can utilize the techniques of the philosophers in order to better grasp the meaning of the issues that invade the mind of the human being in these confuse times. Who should read this book ? Anybody concerned about the problems we find reflected and discussed in the media everyday. Drugs, science, nature, moral relativism are discussed in a manner that truly reflects the effort made by the author to dismiss the "nonsense talked about the relationship between philosophy and the concerns of real life" (Introduction) . So, if you are after a fresh approach to the relationship between philosophy and the central issues of our society, this is a book you would not want to overlook.......(As reviewed by Luciano Lupini)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Norberto Amaral on 31 Jan 2009
Format: Hardcover
I read this book over a year and a half ago and every now and then I still think about some of the points the author made. Most of the contents of the book felt brand new to me and left quite an impression.

In this book the author looks at some headlines in the mass media and makes the reader rethink what by now seem implied truths by methodically thinking through each one. The best chapters are about the morality of war, GM foods and ethics (positive and negative freedoms, i.e. 'freedom from' and 'freedom to') and made me think particularly hard, if only because I had to dig deep to understand why I disagreed with the author in some cases - I had a strong gut reaction against some of the points, but then if the book is meant to make you think hard, then it matters little if you reach different conclusions.

The book is extremely well written and definitely not dull. You will most surely enjoy reading this just for the pleasure of it.
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