View All Book Series


Little Debates about Big Questions

About the Series

Little Debates About Big Questions

Philosophy asks questions about the fundamental nature of reality, our place in the world, and what we should do. Some of these questions are perennial: for example, Do we have free will? What is morality? Some are much newer: for example, How far should free speech on campus extend? Are race, sex and gender social constructs? But all of these are among the big questions in philosophy and they remain controversial.

Each book in the Little Debates About Big Questions series features two professors on opposite sides of a big question. Each author presents their own side, and the authors then exchange objections and replies. Short, lively, and accessible, these debates showcase diverse and deep answers. Pedagogical features include standard form arguments, section summaries, bolded key terms and principles, glossaries, and annotated reading lists.

The debate format is an ideal way to learn about controversial topics. Whereas the usual essay or book risks overlooking objections against its own proposition or misrepresenting the opposite side, in a debate each side can make their case at equal length, and then present objections the other side must consider. Debates have a more conversational and fun style too, and we selected particularly talented philosophers—in substance and style—for these kinds of encounters.

Debates can be combative—sometimes even descending into anger and animosity. But debates can also be cooperative. While our authors disagree strongly, they work together to help each other and the reader get clearer on the ideas, arguments, and objections. This is intellectual progress, and a much-needed model for civil and constructive disagreement.

The substance and style of the debates will captivate interested readers new to the questions. But there’s enough to interest experts too. The debates will be especially useful for courses in philosophy and related subjects—whether as primary or secondary readings—and a few debates can be combined to make up the reading for an entire course.

We thank the authors for their help in constructing this series. We are honored to showcase their work. They are all preeminent scholars or rising-stars in their fields, and through these debates they share what’s been discovered with a wider audience. This is a paradigm for public philosophy, and will impress upon students, scholars, and other interested readers the enduring importance of debating the big questions.

Tyron Goldschmidt, Fellow of the Rutgers Center for Philosophy of Religion, USA

Dustin Crummett, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany

15 Series Titles

Per Page

Is It Wrong to Buy Sex? A Debate

Is It Wrong to Buy Sex?: A Debate

1st Edition


By Holly Lawford-Smith, Angie Pepper
March 18, 2024

Is it wrong for a man to buy sex from a woman? In this book, Holly Lawford-Smith argues that it is wrong: commercial sex is quintessentially hierarchical sex, and it is wrong both to have, and to perpetuate a market in, hierarchical sex. Angie Pepper argues that it isn’t wrong: men are permitted to...

What Do We Owe Other Animals? A Debate

What Do We Owe Other Animals?: A Debate

1st Edition


By Bob Fischer, Anja Jauernig
December 22, 2023

Philosophers Bob Fischer and Anja Jauernig agree that human society often treats animals in indefensible ways and that all animals morally matter; they disagree on whether humans and animals morally matter equally. In What Do We Owe Other Animals?: A Debate, Fischer and Jauernig square off over ...

Do Numbers Exist? A Debate about Abstract Objects

Do Numbers Exist?: A Debate about Abstract Objects

1st Edition


By Peter van Inwagen, William Lane Craig
November 30, 2023

In Do Numbers Exist? Peter van Inwagen and William Lane Craig take opposite sides on whether there are abstract objects, such as numbers and properties. Craig argues that there are no abstract objects, whereas Van Inwagen argues that there are. Their exchange explores various arguments about ...

What Makes Life Meaningful? A Debate

What Makes Life Meaningful?: A Debate

1st Edition


By Thaddeus Metz, Joshua W. Seachris
November 30, 2023

Can human life be meaningful? What does talk about life’s meaning even mean? What is God’s role, if any, in a meaningful life? These three questions frame this one-of-a-kind debate between two philosophers who have spent most of their professional lives thinking and writing about the topic of life’...

Should You Choose to Live Forever? A Debate

Should You Choose to Live Forever?: A Debate

1st Edition


By Stephen Cave, John Martin Fischer
November 22, 2023

In this book, Stephen Cave and John Martin Fischer debate whether or not we should choose to live forever. This ancient question is as topical as ever: while billions of people believe they will live forever in an otherworldly realm, billions of dollars are currently being poured into anti-ageing ...

Can We Know Anything? A Debate

Can We Know Anything?: A Debate

1st Edition

By Bryan Frances, Michael Huemer
September 19, 2023

In this book, Michael Huemer and Bryan Frances debate whether – and how – we can gain knowledge of the world outside of our own minds. Starting with opening statements, the debate moves through two rounds of replies. Frances argues that we lack knowledge because, for example, we cannot rule out the...

Is Morality Real? A Debate

Is Morality Real?: A Debate

1st Edition

By Matt Lutz, Spencer Case
September 07, 2023

In this book, Spencer Case and Matt Lutz debate whether objective moral facts exist. We often say that actions like murder and institutions like slavery are morally wrong. And sometimes people strenuously disagree about the moral status of actions, as with abortion. But what, if anything, makes ...

Do We Have a Soul? A Debate

Do We Have a Soul?: A Debate

1st Edition

By Eric T. Olson, Aaron Segal
August 04, 2023

Are we made entirely of matter, like sticks and stones? Or do we have a soul—a nonphysical entity—where our mental lives take place? The authors Eric T. Olson and Aaron Segal begin this accessible and wide-ranging debate by looking at the often-overlooked question of whether we appear in ordinary ...

What is Consciousness? A Debate

What is Consciousness?: A Debate

1st Edition

By Amy Kind, Daniel Stoljar
June 30, 2023

What is consciousness and why is it so philosophically and scientifically puzzling? For many years philosophers approached this question assuming a standard physicalist framework on which consciousness can be explained by contemporary physics, biology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. This book...

Does Tomorrow Exist? A Debate

Does Tomorrow Exist?: A Debate

1st Edition

By Nikk Effingham, Kristie Miller
March 28, 2023

This book takes up the question of whether past and future events exist. Two very different views are explored. According to one of these views (presentism), advanced by Nikk Effingham, the present is special. Effingham argues that only present things exist, but which things those are changes as ...

Can War Be Justified? A Debate

Can War Be Justified?: A Debate

1st Edition

By Andrew Fiala, Jennifer Kling
February 21, 2023

Can war be justified? Pacifists answer that it cannot; they oppose war and advocate for nonviolent alternatives to war. But defenders of just war theory argue that in some circumstances, when the effectiveness of nonviolence is limited, wars can be justified. In this book, two philosophers debate ...

Should Wealth Be Redistributed? A Debate

Should Wealth Be Redistributed?: A Debate

1st Edition

By Steven McMullen, James R. Otteson
December 20, 2022

A central contested issue in contemporary economics and political philosophy is whether governments should redistribute wealth. In this book, a philosopher and an economist debate this question. James Otteson argues that respect for individual persons requires that the government should usually not...

1-12 of 15
AJAX loader