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Back to philosophy: A reading list

Are you taking any philosophy courses as part of your degree this year? Or are you continuing with a second degree in philosophy? Then look no further for the best in philosophy research. We’ve brought together some of our most popular textbooks to help you prepare for the new academic year. From Plato to Descartes, ancient wisdom to modern philosophical issues, this list provides a great first stop for under-graduate and post-graduate students alike.


Context and Communication by Herman Cappelen and Josh Dever

Does the meaning of a question change dependent on how it’s asked? Is the meaning of a thought changed by how we think about that thought? Students of linguistics and philosophy of language will benefit from this introduction to literature, theories, and discussions surrounding the concept of “context” in communication.

Philosophy of Social Science: A New Introduction edited by Nancy Cartwright and Eleonora Montuschi

Social science and philosophy students will benefit from this guide to some of the more complex topics currently discussed in this dynamic field. Covering hot-button issues such as climate change and social well-being, questions about objectivity including feminist theory, and methodological perspectives including interdisciplinarity, each expert explores each topic presenting the groundwork for further study in the field.

Philosophical Devices
Philosophical Devices

Descartes: An Analytic and Historical Introduction, Second Edition by Georges Dicker

Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am – is arguably René Descartes most memorable conclusion from his masterpiece Meditation on First Philosophy. Any philosophy course is sure to cover Descartes and the profound impact he had on philosophical inquiry. Including improved treatments of the cogito and the problem of the Cartesian Circle, this commentary introduces undergraduates to the famous “father of Western philosophy”.

On Loyalty and Loyalties: The Contours of a Problematic Virtue by John Kleinig

Loyalty is often thought of as the most important virtue on which all relationships are based. Friends, family, work, country, and God all demand absolute and unquestioning loyalty. As one of the few full-length studies on this virtue, this volume will present students of moral theory with an alternative view to the common perception that loyalty is an ever-positive virtue.

Philosophical Devices: Proofs, Probabilities, Possibilities, and Sets by David Papineau

Plato: Laws 1 & 2

Beginning a course in philosophy this year? Then this is a must-have title to get started. Designed for all students of philosophy from introductory levels, Papineau explains key technical ideas whose meanings are often taken for granted in contemporary writing. Dispensing with long explanations, Philosophical Devices covers the basics in a way that’s accessible to all.


The Equality of the Sexes: Three Feminist Texts of the Seventeenth Century by Desmond M. Clarke

Move over Beyoncé, the seventeenth century witnessed the first publications that argued for the equality of men and women. Post-graduate students in early modern philosophy, history, and literature alike can learn from Marie le Jars de Gournay, Anna Maria van Schurman, and François Poulain de la Barre, whose three feminist tracts transformed the language and conceptual framework in which questions about women’s equality or otherwise were subsequently discussed.

Plato: Laws 1 and 2 translated with an introduction and commentary by Susan Sauvé Meyer

Plato. Is there a figure in more philosophy with greater renown? Advanced students in ancient philosophy and classics will appreciate this new translation of Plato’s Laws, 1 and 2. The commentary lays bare the structure of the argumentation, illuminates the philosophical issues, and explains difficult passages, making accessible this complex and intricate work.

The Multiple Realization Book
The Multiple Realization Book

Causation: A User’s Guide by L. A. Paul and Ned Hall

Neither common sense nor extensive philosophical debate has led us to anything like agreement on the correct analysis of the concept of causation, or an account of the metaphysical nature of the causal relation. Until now. Causation: A User’s Guide guides students of metaphysics and the philosophy of science through the most important philosophical treatments of causation, negotiating the terrain by taking a set of examples as landmarks.

The Multiple Realization Book by Thomas W. Polger and Lawrence A. Shapiro

Philosophy of mind students will benefit from the first book-length investigation of multiple realization. Sophisticated and empirically informed arguments cast doubt on the generality of multiple realization in the cognitive sciences. Meanwhile, the authors offer an alternative framework for understanding explanations in the cognitive sciences, as well as in chemistry, biology, and other non-basic sciences.

Aristotle: De Anima by Christopher Shields

Lastly, but certainly not least, this translation and commentary of Aristotle’s De Anima, will be of interest to philosophers at all levels. The commentary addresses itself to the reader who wishes to understand and assess Aristotle’s accounts of the soul and body; perception; thinking; action; and the character of living systems. Presenting controversial aspects of the text in a neutral, fair-minded manner, readers can form their own judgments.

Featured image: Statue Herodot by morhamedufmg, Public Domain via Pixabay.

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