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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thinking exercise for children, 1 Oct 2003
This review is from: The Outer Limits: More Mysteries from the Philosophy Files (Paperback)
This is a companion volume to The Philosophy Files by the same author. Although it deals with some of the same topics it does so using fresh ideas. Clearly intended for children aged from about 9 upwards it is still a good read for adults, especially when vicariously enjoyed through the eyes of a child companion reader. I read the book aloud with my 9 year old daughter, over the course of a few evenings, discussing issues as we went. She lapped up the material and felt complimented that she should be invited to think about the philosophical topics brought up in the book viz.: a consideration of astrology, flying saucers and ESP, killing people, the death penalty, the origin of the universe, whether time travel is possible, whether a machine could think and the nature of science. He does all this by way of Socratic dialogues conducted between sparky cartoon characters who take up opposing points of view and manage never to become impatient with one another - always respecting each others views.
According to The Philosopher's Magazine the vast majority of philosophers in the Western World are atheists and Stephen Law is clearly no exception. For me, an atheist and humanist, this was one of the most appealing features of the book. His analysis of the arguments for and against the existence of God are set out lucidly and he includes an admirable critique of creation science. The apparent simplicity of his exposition does not conceal its intelligence and I found it added light to my previous discussions on the subject with my daughter in a delightful way.
Only one part of the book gives cause for some concern. At one point, in the chapter on killing people where moral dilemmas regarding this topic are discussed, the 'Grand Vizier of Moldana' is presented with an awful choice by the terrible Warls who have invaded his country. He must kill one of a hundred children lined up in front of him or watch them all killed if he refuses. My daughter baulked at this, saying that she could not possibly make up her mind either way, the consequences were too dreadful to think about. She clearly found it upsetting and less robust children would find it more so. I had not anticipated this reaction. Over the next few days she returned to discuss the matter from time to time and I feel that it is now resolved. She learnt an important lesson - that moral dilemmas can involve painful choices. However, parents should make sure they consider their child's likely reaction to this matter.
Overall a splendid book.
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