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The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: And Ninety Nine Other Thought Experiments [Hardcover]

Julian Baggini
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 July 2005
Julian Baggini presents 100 of the most interesting thought experiments: short scenarios which pose a problem in a vivid and concrete way, and invites the reader to think about possible answers for him/herself. Experiments cover identity, religion, art, ethics, language, knowledge and many more. In every case, Baggini sets the problem up for the reader, and then offers some ways of approaching it. There are rarely 'right' or 'wrong' answers (though some answers are better than others), but the real point is in the exploration of the question. From Zeno's paradox to Groundhog Day (how do you make sense of a life of eternal recurrence?), via the pig that wants to be eaten (so should you eat him?), Plato's cave, Minority Report (is it right to punish people for what they are going to do, but haven't yet done?), and an American Werewolf in London (how can we tell whether we are awake or dreaming?), this book makes philosophy not only mind-stretching but also entertaining.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862077487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862077485
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 124,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


'An eloquent and engaging introduction to the major philosophical quandaries about identity, knowledge, morality and rationality' -- Scotland on Sunday

'Baggini’s thought experiments provide an enjoyable work-out for the mind' -- London Review of Books

'Examines received opinions, things we take for granted, and dissects them entertainingly' -- The Times

'For people who want an honest, intelligent discussion which does not shy away from difficulties' -- Publishing News

'Ideal for reading aloud' -- Metro (London)

'This book is like the Sudoku of moral philosophy' -- New Statesman

'Thought experiments, aka moral or philosophical dilemmas, aren’t just the realm of eccentic beardy academics' -- Brighton Evening Argus

‘Baggini offers us a tempting smorgasbord of some of the most baffling, weird and occasionally downright creepy scenarios ever envisaged’ -- The Guardian

‘Thinking again is what this taut, incisive, bullet- hard book is dedicated to promoting’ -- The Sunday Times

About the Author

Julian Baggini is the editor and co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine. He writes regularly for the Guardian, Independent and Independent on Sunday, Prospect and the TES, and has appeared on Nightwaves and In Our Time. He is the author of several books on philosophy, including What's It All About? Philosophy and the Meaning of Life (Granta), Making Sense: Philosophy Behind the Headlines (OUP) and Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bite-sized 31 Oct 2005
Overall I enjoyed this book. The idea of using a hypothetical scenario as an introduction to a great philosophical idea or problem is a good one as it does not require the reader to have any previous knowledge or understanding of the subject. This means that anyone can pick this book up and immediately be introduced with ease to a subject they previously knew nothing about.
The wide range of scenarios and ideas presented is also useful as it means if you are not interested in one thing on offer there is likely to be something else for you. As well, it also means that if you have read about something before and know a bit about it this book does not feel like re-visited territory. The sceanarios that are linked to each other are referenced at the end of each segment so if you are interested in that specific theme then you can go straight to the next thought experiment without having to read through a load of others first, which is another useful feature.
The only thing about this book I was vaguely dissatisfied with was the because of the huge number of ideas presented here sometimes it felt like you were just being offered a taste of a much larger subject when you wanted to know more about it. Because of the very nature of the book I realise that this should be the way the ideas are presented but occasionally this meant it was slightly unfufilling to read.
However, it has prompted me to go on and read more about those areas I was interested in so perhaps it did a great job after all! If you do not know much about philosophy and are keen to get a broad, easily accessable overview then this book is excellent. However, if you already know what you are interested in and like to learn about in it any great depth this book is not designed for you. Pretty good though - interesting and provoking.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this in one sitting 5 April 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Douglas Adams posed many a philosophical question in his works. For some, the most hilarious - or disturbing, was the meal that introduced itself and recommended certain portions for consumption. In a society fully detached from the processing of living flesh into oven-ready tidbits, Adams portrayal of "the pig that wants to be eaten" seems outlandish. Yet, is there truly a moral issue in developing a food that not only embraces the opportunity to be consumed, but has the capacity to help the diner choose the more desireable cut. ?
Julian Baggini poses this and ninety-nine other questions in this tantalising collection. Many of the topics he raises have been with us for millennia - remaining unresolved today. The author draws the old questions to centre stage, clad in modern finery and make-up. The new appearance helps bring the reader into the questions with a greater sense of comfort, one hopes. But when the last line has been read, it's clear that this isn't just an entertaining recasting of old conundrums, but of serious issues we confront daily. Reading them all in one go could be dangerous to your mental health!
Many readers will have encountered these issues previously: if your brain is transplanted to another body, are you still you? Or if that bastion of "consciousness" is instead placed in a vat of nutrients and wired into a computer that feeds it sensory information, are you still "real"? If your ATM grants you ten thousand dollars when you asked for a hundred, are you "morally bound" to return it [assuming the bank's auditors can't track where it went]? On a lighter note, we might consider whether a sculpture produced by Nature is a work of art. If it is, who sets a value on it? How much would you pay for it?
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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can philosophy really be fun? Yes, it can! 20 Aug 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If, like me, you agree that 'philosophy's a clever word for not enough to do' (Mitch Benn) or believe that 'philosophers spend their time giving advice to people who are happier than they are' (Tom Lehrer), this book will shatter your preconceptions. It's fun, thought-provoking and great for dipping in and out of. All the 'biggies are there' from Descartes to Zeno, from Jean-Paul Sartre to Bertrand Russell, but it is the clarity, simplicity and humour of the book which sells the subject, bringing in everything from Coronation Street to Big Brother to the ultimate nightmare England manager Glenn Robson-Keeganson. It not only makes philosophy, morality and ethics enjoyable but - and this sounds barely believable - succeeds in making them seem relevant...easier said than done in today's world. The expression 'it makes you think' has been reduced to a cliche these days, but here it really does apply. Buy it - you won't be disappointed!
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy made easy and interesting 1 Sep 2005
By K. Mcdougall VINE VOICE
Came across this book by chance in a review in the Sunday Times and went online to order it. When it came I could hardly put it down - truly fascinating and thought provoking.
Julian Baggini has pulled together 100 stories that make you think about your own perception of the world, right and wrong, your own morale's without forcing one view or opinion on the reader. The format of the book makes it very easy to pick it up whenever you have 5 mins free and just read one or a couple of the stories.
I have used the stories with my friends and I have recommended the book to many friends and colleagues. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a simple yet thought provoking book, or wondering what philosophy is all about or simply curious to find out if a tree falls down in a forest with no-one around whether it makes a sound or not - it doesn't ;) (or does it...?)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars The arguments that don't want to be expanded
In principle, the book is great. 100 chapters with a scenario-based thought experiment in each. However, the undertaking is too great for such a short book. Read more
Published 17 days ago by PhilipStirups
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to a variety of ideas
This has been, for a few months, my "coffee table book". It is one I have close by in the living room and dip into from time to time. Read more
Published 2 months ago by S. Meadows
5.0 out of 5 stars thought- provoking and readable
I am greatly enjoying this book. It is clearly written,challenging in places, and deals with an issue that I have attempted to grapple with before.
Published 2 months ago by definatelycharlie
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor and Superficial
The idea of a short scenarios followed by a page or two of exploring philosophical implications sounds like a great idea and in the hands of a better philosopher and writer it... Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Fraser
2.0 out of 5 stars it's superficial like hell
I work in advertising for 20 years and I can knock book like that together in two days.
It is great shame that such interesting subject get such simplistic and in places... Read more
Published 7 months ago by ananage
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
If you want a book that makes you think, then is the one. I often felt uncomfortable on discovering that I was often facing different directions on moral issues. food for thought.
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Victor Botterill
5.0 out of 5 stars needs to be read.
needs to be read ....prbest lateral thinking book and mind provoking .have recommendedit toseveral friends .proof that there is more than one answer
Published 9 months ago by Mr. Dennis Halliwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than sudoku
Better than sudoku : Makes you think but in the process you learn something, and you keep thinking after putting the book aside.
Published 9 months ago by Vitor Malha
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
For student social work practioners or those in practice it will help with hcpc registration as a piece of research you can reference don't miss it
Published 10 months ago by Ken Bumby
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for dipping in and out of
Lots of food for thought. Thoroughly enjoying reading the dilemas, thinking them through then reading the comments on them. Read more
Published 11 months ago by NLP Mum
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