Utopias, Dolphins and Computers : Problems in Philosophical Plumbing book cover
1st Edition

Utopias, Dolphins and Computers
Problems in Philosophical Plumbing

ISBN 9780415133784
Published April 27, 2000 by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

Why do the big philosophical questions so often strike us as far-fetched and little to with everyday life? Mary Midgley shows that it need not be that way; she shows that there is a need for philosophy in the real world. Her popularity as one of our foremost philosophers is based on a no-nonsense, down-to-earth approach to fundamental human problems, philosphical or otherwise. In Utopias, Dolphins and Computers she makes her case for philosophy as a difficult but necessary tool for solving some of the most pressing issues facing contemporary society.
How should we treat animals? Why are we so confused about the value of education? What is at stake in feminism? Why should we sustain our environment? Why do we think intelligent computers will save us? Mary Midgley argues that philosophy not only can, but should be used in thinking about these questions.
Utopias, Dolphins and Computers will make fascinating reading for philosophers, educationalists, feminists, environmentalists and indeed anyone interested in the questions of philosophy, ethics and life.

Table of Contents

1. Philosophical Plumbing 2. Practical Utopianism 3. Homunculus Trouble 4. Myths of Intellectual Isolation 5. The Use and Uselessness of Learning 6. Sex and Personal Identity 7. Freedom, Feminism and War 8. The End of Anthropocentrism? 9. Is a Dolphin a Person? 10. Sustainability and Moral Pluralism 11. Visions, Secular, Sacred and Scientific 12. Artificial Intelligence and Creativity

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Mary Midgley is a moral philosopher. Until her retirement in 1980 she was Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Newcastle.


'A clear and sustained assault on the anti-intellectualism that proclaims: "It may be right in theory, but not in practice." Midgley scotches this: if an idea does not work in practice, something is wrong with the theory.' - New Scientist

'Here is a philosophy book which is a pleasure to read from the point of view both of the argument, which is forceful, coherent and lucid, and of the style.' - Journal of Consciousness Studies

'In a climate of loony scientism, Mary Midgley's Utopias, Dolphins and Computers is a powerful antidote - a mix of wisdom and humour.' - The Sunday Times