on 9 January 2013
This little book summarises a range of what Papineau calls "Philosophical Devices", and I think of as tools - that is the tools used in a variety of philosophical situations, and which understanding of is often taken for granted in philosophy texts. You would probably have a to read quite a few books to cover the range of materials covered in this volume. It is written in a pleasantly light and easy style, for what could be very dry materials. The explanations are all clear.
Examples of the explanations I found particularly good are de dicto and de re modal statements, conditional probabilities and the explanations of syntax and semantics. In each case I have read much longer and more technical explanations which have been far less helpful. Understanding the devices in this book could help with philosophical studies in epistemology, methodology, and metaphysics to name a few.
My one caveat, is that in the introduction Papineau says "nothing in what follows presumes any prior knowledge". This is a compact and helpful guide - but as such if you really are coming at this with absolutely no prior knowledge I think this may be a little too compact! (I could be wrong about this). On the other hand, if you have some familiarity but find yourself confused from time to time, or want to remind yourself about various fundamental devices that you did understand but have forgotten, you should find this an excellent and very accessible guide.
on 3 December 2012
This book made me realize that there had been a major gap in my philosophy education. It ought to have equipped me to read technically sophisticated literature without continually having to turn to reference books to understand basic technical ideas. It didn't. A course based on this book would have done. Whether it is the concept of possible worlds, the various kinds of probability, or the many other 'philosophical devices' expained in the book, the treatment shows an unusual sensitivity to the problems encountered by someone new to the subject. The book could be used as course text but is so clearly written that it can also be recommended as a teach-yourself text. It would be very much more useful to most students than the standard course in elementary logic.
on 26 March 2014
It arrived quickly whithin 4-5 days from ordering it.
This book is great for anyone who enjoys reading philosophical papers/books etc but strugles with the terminology that the philosophers use. Like me I have found it frustrating because I never had a philosophical background. As a person comming from mathematics I became interested in the philosophy of mathematics but lacked the knowledge of basic terminology to fully engage with the papers that I was reading.
It is a marvelous book, explains everything very simply. I would recomend it to anyone who has an interest in reading contemporary philosophy or indeed philosophy of mathematics. Buy this book you are going to need it!
on 7 April 2014
I lecture university students in logic for artificial intelligence, and having read this, will now
make it required reading. It is an excellent overview of the logical (as well as other technical)
underpinnings for philosophical theorising, both for the curious layperson, and students in maths,
computer science and philosophy.
on 20 March 2014
This is a genuinely reader-friendly account, straightforward and with good intentions - a helpful overview of sets, orders, modal properties, and probability theory - a very good thing to bridge the gap between freshman logic and advanced study in the field. It is also of help to an instructor, such as myself, who needs to shake off a mite of rust before upgrading a curriculum in formal logic. K