Philosophy in Practice: An Introduction to the Main Questions.

Title: Philosophy in Practice: An Introduction to the Main Questions.
Author/s: Morton, Adam.
Material type: Book.
Publisher/date: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (2004).
Format: Paperback (464 pages).
ISBN: ISBN-10: 9781405116183,  ISBN-13: 978-1405116183
Area and topic: History of philosophy and ideas. Core branches/ sub-disciplines of philosophy. Pedagogical aid. Philosophical skills/methodology. Student text book.
Intended audience/ reading level: Tertiary/accessible (suitable for senior secondary school  level).
Purchasing and information: 1) amazon.com 2) fishpond.co.nz
Unique and/or salient feature/s: ‘Philosophy in Practice’ is essentially a text book introduction to Western philosophy with the following unique and/or salient features: a) A practical ‘hands on’ approach to learning b) passages from classic readings from the history of philosophy with commentary c) helpful pedagogical tips throughout the text d) a companion online teachers guide at ‘www.blackwellpublishing.com/pip’ with teaching suggestions, tests, and essay topics.
Synopsis and/or additional information: The following information is sourced from the above links (see ‘Purchasing and information’) and the text.

  • Each of topics discussed are assisted by the following features; teaching assistance through discussion plans, one-page historical summaries, chapter summaries, highlighted questions, annotated guides to further reading, a glossary of terms.
  • The contents are as are as follows: Note to teachers. The contract. Part I: The lure of certainty: 1. Certainty and doubt. 2. Sources of conviction. 3. Rationalism. 4. Rationalism versus relativism in morals. 5. Induction and deduction. 6. The retreat from certainty. Postcard history of philosophy I. Part II: Life in an uncertain world: 7. Utilitarianism.8. Kantian Ethics. 9. Empiricism. 10. Beyond Empiricism. 11. Objectivity. Postcard history of philosophy II. Part III: Reality: 12. Materialism and dualism. 13. Morality for naturalists. 14. Deep illusions. 15. Realism. Postcard history of philosophy III. Definitions. Index.
Strengths: As a general rule, the ‘standard’ introduction to philosophy book tends to presents the subject as either a) a system comprised of arguments on specific issues tied to the core subjects/branches of philosophical concern, or b) as a developing tradition of major names and movements. In contrast, as the title clearly implies, ‘Philosophy in Practice’ introduces philosophy as an activity to practice and engage in. Although written primarily for tertiary students, most of the material may be used at secondary school level. At the least, some of the material can be taught directly as written; at most, some of the material may be simplified but with little effort. The pedagogical assistance and the companion website are especially helpful.
Limitations: Even if fairly ‘secondary school friendly’ there are other books reviewed on this site written primarily for secondary students. The practical approach, or the way this approach is presented by the author is not typical of introductory to philosophy text books and therefore may not be to everyone’s liking.

Comment on this article