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What to Believe Now: Applying Epistemology to Contemporary Issues [Paperback]

David Coady

Price: £20.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 Mar 2012 1405199946 978-1405199940 1
What can we know and what should we believe about today′s world? What to Believe Now: Applying Epistemology to Contemporary Issues applies the concerns and techniques of epistemology to a wide variety of contemporary issues. Questions about what we can know–and what we should believe–are first addressed through an explicit consideration of the practicalities of working these issues out at the dawn of the twenty–first century. Coady calls for an ′applied turn′ in epistemology, a process he likens to the applied turn that transformed the study of ethics in the early 1970s. Subjects dealt with include: Experts–how can we recognize them? And when should we trust them? Rumors–should they ever be believed? And can they, in fact, be a source of knowledge? Conspiracy theories–when, if ever, should they be believed, and can they be known to be true? The blogosphere–how does it compare with traditional media as a source of knowledge and justified belief? Timely, thought provoking, and controversial, What to Believe Now offers a wealth of insights into a branch of philosophy of growing importance–and increasing relevance–in the twenty–first century.

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“Overall, Coady’s book is a well–organised and well–conceived piece of philosophy that constitutes a powerful case for the legitimacy of applying epistemology to contemporary issues.”  ( Journal of Applied Philosophy , 22 October 2013) “This book implements an excellent idea. The idea is that applied epistemology is worth pursuing. Applied epistemology, like applied ethics, employs philosophical resources toward solving real–world problems.  What To Believe Now defends provocative views…  If the book encourages further work in applied epistemology, then it will have accomplished considerable good.”  ( Earl Conee, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews , 1 January 2013) “Undoubtedly, this book will interest contemporary epistemologists.  Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Upper–level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.”  ( Choice , 1 November 2012) “Since it addresses topics of considerable importance, it should command, if not a mass audience, then one that reaches well outside the narrow confines of academic philosophy. Those particularly likely to find it useful include political theorists, students of social networks, and perhaps some policy makers.”  ( Danny Yee′s Book Reviews , 2012)


′What should we believe?′ This is one of the core questions of epistemology, but it is often discussed in the abstract as if it were a question of purely theoretical interest arising for agents living nowhere and nowhen. David Coady takes epistemology out of the study and into the streets  by asking what   we    (as citizens of a more–or–less democratic societies) should believe  now  ( in the early 21st Century) about matters of political pith and moment.  A fine book, a fun book, and a book which might actually do a bit of good. Charles Pigden, University of Otago   This original and accessible work advances applied epistemology with vivid examples, and provocative and balanced commentary. A terrific stimulus to reflection, discussion, and improved critical thought about everyday issues. Jonathan Adler, The City University of New York

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful in this age of information overload 10 Oct 2012
By J. J. Stewart - Published on Amazon.com
Unlike the reviewer below I have read the entire book. Consequently I think I am in a better position to actually say something legitimate about the quality of 'What To Believe Now'.
'What To Believe Now' is a book about epistemology, otherwise known as 'theory of knowledge.' It is a book about applied epistemology, which is to say it discusses practical matters concerning beliefs. In particular it deals with subjects like conspiracy theories, expert testimony, wikipedia, blogs, and so on. The first chapter is the most theory laden part of the book and lays a general groundwork about what constitutes a belief. The rest of the book applies this theory to actual cases of belief formation and cases where what constitutes a right belief are called into question.
There are a number of excellent things about this book. The first excellent thing is that it is readable and engaging. It is the sort of book that one doesn't put down - it's like reading an addictive piece of fiction. In my experience this is highly irregular as far as philosophy books go: most philosophy books are dull and plodding. Not so for 'What To Believe Now' 'What To Believe Now' is a lively and readable piece of philosophy that happily contains a good dose of dry humour. In the same vein the book has the virtue of not being overlong. Some philosophy books are unnecessarily verbose and rambling - 'What To Believe Now' says what it has to say in an economical way and I cannot see how it could have been better said even if it had have had another 200 pages.
The second excellent thing about 'What To Believe Now' is the fact that it has some impact upon the sorts of beliefs we should hold, and therefore may have some impact on how we behave. For example, the book discusses what constitutes the right conditions for believing the testimony of others. It is easy to see how this discussion might contribute towards our day-to-day life. We are constantly being advised by people all the time and it is not always clear when and who we should believe. 'What To Believe Now' helps provide some grounds for guiding us through such issues. In this way, 'What To Believe Now' actually does a useful job in helping us decide what beliefs we should hold. This has other normative implications - once we know what beliefs to hold, this helps guide our actions. If we know we should reject the expertise of climate deniers then this will surely cause us to behave in different ways (we might petition the government more, use the car less, cycle to work more often, etc). To this extent 'What To Believe Now' has ethical implications and this is the case even if the book is ostensibly about epistemology. So the book is different from other philosophy books in another way: apart from actually being interesting it is also unusually pertinent and helpful in a way that other epistemology books are not. It is not solely about theory, it is also about action.
I highly recommend this book for anyone curious about what sorts of things we should believe in this age of information overload.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy fit for Human Consumption 16 Oct 2012
By Anonymous - Published on Amazon.com
I can only second the comments of the last positive viewer. The book is excellent. Epistemology, especially among philosophy, can at times seem difficult to connect to issues of interest to non-philosophers. This book does.

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