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Making Sense


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Philosophy behind the headlines 1: Knowing the truth 2: Doing the right thing 3: The thinking voter 4: The call to arms 5: In the wake of science 6: The environment 7: When faith meets reason 8: Calculating value 9: The life and death of the self Conclusion: Philosophy beyond the headlines New Afterword: The 2003 Iraq war

About the Author

Julian has both an academic and journalistic background. He was awarded a PhD in philosophy from University College London in 1997 for his thesis on personal identity. However, he decided not to then embark on an academic career and focused instead on The Philosophers' Magazine. He has published as a freelance, with his reviews and comment pieces appearing in, among others, the Independent, Independent on Sunday, Times Educational Supplement and New Humanist. He also has a regular column in The Skeptic


A book that uses the techniques and theories of Western philosophy as a way to gain insight into current affairs has the potential to be dry as a piece of unbuttered white toast, but Baggini has penned a wonderfully accessible volume of just that sort. Founding editor of The Philosophers' Magazine, Baggini brings the writings of Nietzsche, Jeremy Bentham (who memorably remarked that the notion of natural rights was "nonsense on stilts") and John Stuart Mill to bear on an engaging analysis of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair and the role of ethics in private and public life. Genetically modified food, euthanasia, the role of science in society and even the nature of truth are all subjected to Baggini's rigorous yet readable investigation. Readers will no doubt disagree with some of his conclusions-such as when he asserts, via Kierkegaard, that religious faith should be a "terrifying leap" rather than a "soothing panacea"-but that's part of the whole point. As he writes in his introduction, "I do not intend this book as the last word but as an invitation for more philosophizing to begin." (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

`In this excellent book, Baggini takes ten news stories from recent years and uses them to illustrate a constructive relationship between philosophy and real life. The stories that make the cornerstone of his discussions have been well selected, providing clear access to an impressively uncomplicated tutorial on the underlying arguments. The key point is that the philosophy has a valuable part to play in deciphering the media, and that the media can show us which of our intellectual tools are really useful. A pudding proved, in this case, in the eating.' Good Book Guide, February 2003 `An excellent book that brings a good breath of philosophical fresh air into consideration of the philosophical issues behind the headlines... The book is well written and will appeal to those wishing to get behind the headlines with some clear thinking.' Scientific and Medical Network, 2002 `...a compelling narrative that challenges how we make sense both of the world around us and of our own beliefs.' Publishing News, July 2002

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