Core Questions in Philosophy  book cover
8th Edition

Core Questions in Philosophy

ISBN 9780367464981
Published May 27, 2021 by Routledge
364 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Writtten in an engaging lecture-style format, this 8th edition of Core Questions in Philosophy shows students how philosophy is best used to evaluate many different kinds of arguments and to construct sound theories. Well-known historical texts are discussed, not as a means to honor the dead or merely to describe what various philosophers have thought but to engage with, criticize, and even improve ideas from the past. In addition—because philosophy cannot function apart from its engagement with the wider society—traditional and contemporary philosophical problems are brought into dialogue with the physical, biological, and social sciences. Text boxes highlight key concepts, and review questions, discussion questions, and a glossary of terms are also included. 

Core Questions in Philosophy has served as a premier introductory textbook for three decades, with updates to each new edition.  

Key updates to this 8th edition include: 

  • A new chapter, "Probability and Bayes' Theorem"
  • A new explanation of the concept of "soundness," as a useful tool in assessing arguments

  • A clearer explanation, in the chapter on evolution, of the crucial biological idea that the similarities of different species provide evidence of their common ancestry
  • A new discussion of evolutionary altruism in the chapter on psychological egoism 
  • A presentation of two interesting arguments from historically important Islamic and Confusian philosophers
  • Improved clarity and updated material from philosophy and empirical research, throughout  

Revisions to the online list of recommended resources include: 

  • Additional recommendations of supplementary readings, with the inclusion of more work from female philosophers 
  • New recommended videos and podcasts, all organized by their relevance to each chapter in the book 


Table of Contents


Part I: Introduction

1. What Is Philosophy?

2. Deductive Arguments

3. Inductive and Abductive Arguments

Part II: Philosophy of Religion

4. Aquinas’s First Four Ways

5. The Design Argument

6. Evolution and Creationism

7. Can Science Explain Everything?

8. The Ontological Argument

9. Is the Existence of God Testable?

10. Pascal and Irrationality

11. The Argument from Evil

Part III: Theory of Knowledge

12. What Is Knowledge? 

13. Descartes’ Foundationalism

14. The Reliability Theory of Knowledge

15. Justified Belief and Hume’s Problem of Induction

16. Can Hume’s Skepticism Be Refuted?

17. Beyond Foundationalism

18. Locke on the Existence of External Objects

19. Probability and Bayes’s Theorem

Part IV: Philosophy of Mind

20. Dualism and the Mind/Body Problem

21. Logical Behaviorism

22. Methodological Behaviorism

23. The Mind/Brain Identity Theory

24. Functionalism

25. Freedom, Determinism, and Causality

26. A Menu of Positions on Free Will

27. Compatibilism

28. Psychological Egoism

Part V: Ethics

29. Ethics—Normative and Meta

30. The Is/Ought Gap and the Naturalistic Fallacy

31. Observation and Explanation in Ethics

32. Conventionalist Theories

33. Utilitarianism

34. Kant’s Moral Theory

35. Aristotle on the Good Life


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Elliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His most recent book is The Design Argument (2018).


Praise for the previous edition:

"A really excellent introduction to philosophy does the following: meets the student at their level, then takes them up a notch, and approaches traditional topics in unique and interesting ways. This book does those things."
Fred Adams, University of Delaware