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2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9 out of 5 stars
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on 12 December 2009
Oh dear, this is no better than the approved AS version, which the reviewers are unanimous in decrying as complex and unhelpful. I have been attempting to use this book to teach the new syllabus A2 (Chapter 4, Moral philosophy) but the task is proving beyond me. Here is a sample sentence: 'Now if you hold the belief that people should consider their own interests, then you are committed to the universalisation that other people may consider their own interests too, but you are not committed to the impartial consideration of other people's interests.' Er, right. It doesn't help that pages 171-186 are printed upside down in the copy I have in front of me but the reabability is not significantly altered by this inversion.
The authors seem to assume that A2 students have learned an awful lot in their AS year as no attempt is made to re-examine the basics, instead we are treated to a kind of murky moral pond traversed by means of random lily pads representing concepts such as normative relativism, prescriptivism and non-cognitism in no particular order that I can ascertain. From this we are told to figure out how students will answer monster 50 mark questions on subjects such as, 'Examine the difficulties moral realists face in explaining how our moral beliefs commit us to certain actions'. I've tried to work out just how this book, written by AQA examiners, helps with this sample AQA question but, just for the moment, it's eluding me.
Here's a quick solution for those now reconsidering Camus' assertion that the only true philosophical question is suicide: use the old 'Understanding Philosophy for AS Level' by Christopher Hamilton as the basis for moral philosophy with particular reference to Utilitarianism and Meta-ethics. I never thought I'd say it but it's a model of lucidity compared to the new book. Perhaps I have been unnecessarily harsh and other chapters may be better. I've just glanced at 'Epistemology and Metaphysics' and we've still got Williams' inferential contextualism to look forward to.
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on 22 January 2010
A good philosophy textbook clarifies complex matters in an engaging way. It cuts through the long sentences of verbose philosophers by showing the underlying argumentative structure. This book doesn't. If anything, it manages to make relatively simple ideas and theories obscure.

Lacewing is certainly a better textbook by miles (although not ideal. But, then again, perhaps philosophy is just not a textbook subject and best taught through discussion of primary literature)
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on 18 January 2010
An inadequate text. My students found it impenetrable (especially the philosophy of mind chapter), and I agreed with them. The writing is just impossible to read, students said, despite the presence in the text of zombies and a so-so sex joke. Random (if also slightly ironic) sample: "On the other hand, some have argued that folk psychology is a theory which successfully accounts how everyday communions with each other are conducted and, on the whole, such interactions are clear and well understood." Nelson Thornes have not performed well in producing this text and AQA's endorsement of the book is actually a bit shocking. Lacewing seems a better choice.
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on 28 May 2011
This is not a good textbook, but at the very least for the topics I study (Political Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion) it covers the content in a clear and concise way. It doesn't ramble nearly as much as Lacewing's book does, and although that can be a downside, it can also be really useful. It manages to put the whole Political Philosophy syllabus into 40 pages.

I think what would be really brilliant is a textbook that combines the succinctness of this with the kind of questions Lacewing puts on the sides of the pages, guiding you to really think about the topics. But there isn't one. So if you can, using this alongside the Lacewing book is a good way to go.
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on 22 October 2014
I'm not the type of person to take heed of bad reviews, so I bought this book because I felt it could be useful.

The first thing that I will say is that this book has a fantastic, unrivalled ability to make reasonably simple arguments totally unintelligible. Strawson's argument for personhood being 'logically prior to [the concept of] and individual consciousness', which was explained with such clarity in Lacewing's AS Philosophy book, becomes an incomprehensible confusion of propositions, and predicates, and assertions which are simply left unexplained.

Also, I'd question the wisdom of designating 'States of Consciousness', i.e. mental states, 'P-predicates', while physical states are 'M-predicates'.

Do not buy.
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on 24 March 2014
This book claims to offer chapters 6-10 online but does no such thing. Oxford University Press took over the product in Feb 2014 but there is no Kerboodle product that corresponds to it, as touted loudly on the inside cover and introduction. 'Blended' learning experience indeed! You will have to buy a whole new text book if you want to learn anything about JS Mill / Plato / Descartes / Nietsche.

I also agree that the book makes heavy work of the subject matter. Jones/Hayward and Cardinal's book for AS was better than this and Lacewing, although for A2 there doesn't seem to be much of a choice.
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on 28 November 2013
I'm sure the book is great on the PHIL 3 module but the module that focuses on specific texts is completely left out. There's a section that says how to use this book having said in the contents that the chapters on PHILU4 are online. However, the link it sends you to doesn't lead you to the book. It actually sends you to a nelson thornes catalogue, which would be fine if it wasn't just a shop, where the code that's in this book only gives you a ten percent discount on the collection of resources on PHIL3. If you think you'd be fine with 10% as well you might want to reconsider; those chapters cost £144.00. Sensible, yeah...
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on 13 September 2012
Sitting here with my A2 philosophy class on a brain break looking to see how much this books is as some of them want to buy their own copies. We've really found it quite helpful, well structured and with good explanations.
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on 27 March 2013
Needed this for A level, and I got an A overall, a very good and awesome book. Goes into a lot of exam tips as well.
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on 27 October 2013
Needed for my son's A level and he tells me the book is excellent. good value, would recommend to others
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