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on 13 June 2012
The Kindle sample is, unusually, not taken from the beginning of the book, but is a carefully selected set. Unfortunately, they are the best. Buying the book and hoping for more of the same quality proved unsuccessful. Too many of these thought experiments were repetitions from elsewhere with no original contribution from the author.
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on 3 December 2011
This one is probably among my top 10 books.
Each chapter starts with a scenario in a modern setting, allowing you to react and think about your own answers. Then you get to find out the 'correct' answers, or at least how Great Thinkers have wrangled with the same questions throughout history.
A very funny and enjoyable read, if perhaps not all at once. The author skillfuly, relates the writings of ancient philosophers to the modern day showing how little and how much attitudes have changed.
Highly recommended.
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on 19 March 2008
I always admire an intellectual who can take something abstract or complicated and explain it in very simple terms so that something which is esoteric can be easily understood. In this book Baginni does this 100 times. He takes classic philosophical problems and uses simple language, common day scenarios and some sharp wit to present 100 interesting, though provoking, challenging thought experiments.

Each experiment is separate, independent and unique and posses a "what to do" dilema? For example, as title suggests, suppose there was a pig that could communicate that they actually wanted to be eaten? Would vegitarians still have a valid argument? Or is it wrong for someone to use their neighbour's wi-fi to get broadband internet access without their neighbour even knowing if it costs the neighbour nothing?

After presenting the dilema, Baggini then works through an analysis referencing well known philosophers and intellectuals and suggest various views they had on the dilema. Nietzches, Hume, Descartes and host of others all get a mention along the way as we encouter classics Philosophical problems - Xeno's pardox, Plato's Cave, the problem of evil etc.

But the beauty of this book is that Baginni, presents the dilema or the problem in the modern terms without loosing any of the wisdom of the philosophical concept thus making it far more easier to understand. For example, Plato's cave is a famous dilema of people in a cave not understanding what their shadows on the cave walls are, despite the fact they think that they do. Someone leaves the cave and realises how the shadows are being formed but has difficulty communicating and explaining it to those that have never left the cave. Explain this in modern terms, Baggini suggests to imagine a bunch of coach potatoes who are locked in their house watching soap operas. Just like the cave dwellers couldn't understand what their shadows were, the coach potatoes don't fully understand the soap operas. They think the soap operas are real life documentaries. How are they do know it's really just a set with actors following a script? Similarly, someone then leaves the house, realises how soap operas are made and what they really are but again can't communicate or explain this to those who never left the house.

The layout of this book does not follow any strict chronological order so the reader can skip through the problems and simply pick this book up and
put it down any time.

I can imagine plenty of uses for this book. Teachers who want to give something interesting and challenging to their precocious students,
parents who want to open up a bit of rational thought and enquiry with inquisitive children or just about anyone who likes a bit brain activity.

Absolutely brilliant.
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on 24 April 2008
This has the potential to be a life-changing book. It probably comes closer to that description than any other book I've ever read! Where has philosophy been all my life? This collection of bite-sized intellectual puzzles has whetted my appetite for philosophy and so I shall certainly be ordering another of Baggini's books. Having heaped all this praise on this book it is probably fair to say that I would have reacted in such a positive way had I chosen another book as my introduction to philosophy. But perhaps I'm doing Baggini a disservice in presuming so much? I like his mischievous sense of humour too. For example in the names he gives to the people who inhabit his brain-teasing scenarios. One slight criticism that I do have is that many of the thought experiments did seem to border on linguistic nit-picking. Still, many others were profound and involved contemporary issues. I liked to read only a few experiments at a time. I think reading this book cover to cover could get repetitive. Anyway, I'm going to buy another of his books immediately (from Amazon, naturally).
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on 30 August 2011
An author much admired and yet again a book that does not disappoint. Each few pages gives a new problem for the brain to play with. Some may leave you feeling guilty, some wronged and many leave you cerebrally challenged. A great dip in and dip out book. Well worth a read.
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on 7 January 2015
Awful, see other feedback. DO NOT USE!!!
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on 25 September 2013
Lots of food for thought. Thoroughly enjoying reading the dilemas, thinking them through then reading the comments on them. Bleugh - why does Amazon require my review to be a min of 20 words long.....
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I found this quite compulsive at first, but then tired a little when every thought experiment seemed to lead to a kind of 'taster' rather than a developed proposition. It's teasing in that sense as there are fundamentals that you'd quite like to tidy up, but no final answers or definitions are proposed. For instance, it discusses suicide bombing, proposing that Hitler won the war and the British resistance was ill-equipped and weak. "The situation deteriorated until the only effective and reliable method of making an impact was for the resistance to turn themselves into human bombs so that their own sacrifices caused the maximum disruption and terror. They were all prepared to die for Britain..." Cleverly, this proposition turns the tables so that we are forced to consider whether it is ever understandable to consider becoming a suicide bomber. Baggini insists he is not trying to justify suicide bombing but to try to understand why people turn to such extremes. It's not good enough to just say a practice is wrong, we must say why.

The trouble with this book for me was that I wanted more guidance, not just to be provoked into following the reasoning of the various propositions. Among other thorny and difficult propositions stated here there is the question of whether torture can ever be condoned, whether a machine could ever be considered to be a human being, why can't an omnipotent God square a circle, and one that I spent some time considering - why is it considered beyond the pale to institute some kind of crime aversion therapy for convicted criminals? Could it be that dignity and liberty are just weasel words when it comes to the option of turning someone from the path of crime? You might think, as I do, watching the late night series of Lock Up that there is precious little dignity and no obvious benefit in our present incarceration system.
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on 23 November 2012
Good book. Really.

But Kindle could do bit more to make it more user friendly while reading certain books. This has no gaps between paragraphs which make reading quite difficult.
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on 20 May 2011
Really hard to put down, I'd finish one section, see the title for the next and have to read that one too. All sorts of philosophical stuff about other stuff. Some great bits on ethics.
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