ISBN : 9780198822516
What are philosophers trying to achieve? How can they succeed? Does philosophy make progress? Is it in competition with science, or doing something completely different, or neither?
Timothy Williamson tackles some of the key questions surrounding philosophy in new and provocative ways, showing how philosophy begins in common sense curiosity, and develops through our capacity to dispute rationally with each other. Discussing philosophy's ability to clarify our thoughts, he explains why such clarification depends on the development of philosophical theories, and how those theories can be tested by imaginative thought experiments, and compared against each other by standards similar to those used in the natural and social sciences. He also shows how logical rigour can be understood as a way of enhancing the explanatory power of philosophical theories. Drawing on the history of philosophy to provide a track record of philosophical thinking's successes and failures, Williamson overturns widely held dogmas about the distinctive nature of philosophy in comparison to the sciences, demystifies its methods, and considers the future of the discipline.
From thought experiments, to deduction, to theories, this little book will cause you to totally rethink what philosophy is.
2: Starting from common sense
4: Clarifying terms
5: Doing thought experiments
6: Comparing theories
8: Using the history of philosophy
9: Using other fields
11: Conclusion: the future of philosophy
References and Further Reading
"As bold and provocative as its title, one of the worlds leading philosophers lays out in clear, accessible, and engaging terms his vision of philosophy, inviting the reader to agree or disagree, and thereby to enter into its practice." - Jason Stanley, Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University
"Could you be a philosopher? In this terrific book, Timothy Williamson explains what is distinctive about philosophical ways of thinking, and shares trade secrets about how philosophical theories are built and judged. Doing Philosophy moves swiftly, plunging the reader straight into deep controversies about the relationships between philosophy and science, common sense, logic, language, and thought experiments. Williamson is an expert guide through this challenging terrain, offering precise arguments, entertaining examples, and intriguing questions for further reflection." - Jennifer Nagel, University of Toronto