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The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods (CourseSmart) Hardcover – 12 Sep 2002
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"The Philosopher’s Toolkit is a very good book. It could be highly useful for both introductory courses in philosophy, or philosophical methodology, as well as independent study for anyone interested in the methods of argument, assessment and criticism used in contemporary analytic philosophy. It is unique in approach, and written in a pleasant and considerate tone. Its authors are both competent philosophers, and the book visibly reflects their deep sympathy to the discipline and their appreciation of its unique character. This book will help one to get going to do philosophy, but more advanced students might find this text helpful too. I wish I had had access to this book as an undergraduate." Teaching Philosophy
"...the average person who is interested in arguments and logic but who doesn′t have much background in philosophy would certainly find this book useful, as would anyone teaching a course on arguments, logic, and reasoning. Even introductory courses on philosophy in general might benefit because the book lays out so many of the conceptual "tools" which will prove necessary over students′ careers." About.com
"The Philosopher’s Toolkit provides a welcome and useful addition to the introductory philosophy books available. It takes the beginner through most of the core conceptual tools and distinctions used by philosophers, explaining them simply and with abundant examples. Newcomers to philosophy will find much in here that will help them to understand the subject."David S. Oderberg, University of Reading <!––end––>
"Its choice of tools for basic argument ... is sound, while further tools for argument ... move through topics and examples concisely and wittily... Sources are well chosen and indicated step by step. Sections are cross–referenced (making it better than the Teach Youself "100 philosophical concepts") and supported by a useful index." Reference Reviews
"This book is ... an encyclopedia of philosophy. It should be of great use as a quick and accurate reference guide to the skill of philosophy, especially for beginners, but also for instructors ... highly recommended." Choice
From the Back Cover
The Philosopher′s Toolkit provides all the intellectual equipment necessary to engage with and participate in philosophical argument, reading and reflection. Each of its 87 entries explains how to use an important concept or argumentative technique accurately and effectively.
Beginning with the basics of argumentation, the book moves on to deal with tools for assessment and criticism, as well as the limits of argumentation and some of the radical critiques of standard philosophical methodology. Written in an engaging style, the entries are brought to life with vivid and colourful examples and are accompanied by suggestions for further reading. This ingenious compendium of the methods and techniques of philosophy can be used in a variety of ways; as an introduction to the essentials of philosophical reflection, as a comprehensive course on philosophical method, or as a reference book to which readers can turn to find quick and clear accounts of key concepts and methods. The Philosopher′s Toolkit is essential reading for anyone who wants to philosophise well.See all Product description
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If you're new to modern philosophy and want to know what it's about, read Baggini & Fosl's "Philosopher's Toolkit" (along with Thomas Nagel's "What Does It All Mean?") and you'll have a very good idea of the basic questions & methods involved. (Be warned: philosophy is highly addictive stuff and you might find that it changes the way you see everything.)
The book covers several sections, beginning with basic argumentation (Fallacies, Premises, etc...) and expanding out into complex ideas such as Hume's Fork, Leibniz's Law of Identity, Ockham's Razor and similar concepts. It is also very well cross-referenced, providing an almost instantaneous ability to further investigate topics. Additionally, it has a section devoted to Philosophical Resources on the Internet. While this might not be of use in a few years, it definitely is of use now. Finally, the book also includes a small section of "Recommended Readings" at the end of every section that is very useful.
STRENGTHS: Excellent content and superb explanation of the content. The author does a wonderful job of explaining complex philosophical ideas in a clear and concise manner. It also very well thought out, cross-referencing and suggesting additional readings on every topic.
WEAKNESSES: The book is not exactly stimulating in any contemporary manner. It is written more like an encyclopedia rather than a novel and is therefore a bit dry. Also, it's appearance detracts from the seriousness of it's subject matter.
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK: Those interested in understanding philosophical arguments and/or logic. This book is also helpful to Philosophy Majors/Minors as a refresher or a reference book.
FOR SIMILAR/RELATED TOPICS, CONSIDER: Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argument by Douglas Walton and A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston
-as a prerequisite for anyone who wants to dabble in philosophy or is thinking about doing it as a major
-for understanding how to apply philosophy; since this is a compilation of all the basics, it is an useful means of understaning analysis and argumentation, even if you are familiar with it. This book was great in addition to or without my logic class.
-for anyone who wants to review the breadth of philosophical subcategories.
I think as people tend to go through their academic (personal or professional) career they forget to justify to themselves, what they are studying and why. This text gives a clear putline to the question of 'What exactly is philosophy?'. By the way the answer is not the 'love of wisdom'! That is a translation not an answer, anyone who uses that as a definition obviously does not understand the subject-matter.