The Philosophers Tool kit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods.

Title: The Philosophers Tool kit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods.
Author/s: Baggini, J and Fosl, Peter S
Material type: Book.
Publisher/date: Wiley-Blackwell (2002).
Format: Paperback (232 pages).
ISBN: ISBN-10: 0631228748, ISBN-13: 978-0631228745
Area and topic: Pedagogical aid and/or resource. Philosophical skills and methodolgy. Practical philosophy.
Intended audience/ reading level: Teachers/accessible to medium.
Purchasing and information: amazon.com
Unique and/or salient feature/s: ‘The Philosophers Toolkit’ provides all the intellectual equipment necessary to engage with and participate in philosophical argument, reading and reflection. Each of its 87 entries explains how to use an important concept or argumentative technique accurately and effectively.’(back cover).
and/or additional information: The following information is sourced from the above links (see ‘Purchasing and information’) and the text.

  • ‘Beginning with the basics of argumentation, the book moves on to deal with tools for assessment and criticism … and some of the radical critiques of standard philosophical methodology. Written in an engaging style, the entries are brought to life with vivid and colourful examples and are accompanied by suggestions for further reading. [The book] can be used … as an introduction to the essentials of philosophical reflection methods … a course on philosophical method, or as a reference book to which readers can turn to find quick and clear accounts of key concepts’.
  • Chapters include: 1) Basic tools for argument, 2) Tools for assessment 3) Tools for conceptual distinctions 4) Tools for radical critique, and 5) Tools at the limits. Each chapter has between ten to twenty tools and concepts with explanations of the nature of the tool in question and when and how to use it. The authors also offer additional readings and sources for elaboration on the concepts and tools discussed.
Strengths: ‘The Philosopher’s Toolkit’ offers a unique approach. Instead of introducing philosophy as a discipline comprised of various branches (ethics, metaphysics etc) or from a historical perspective, ‘Toolkit’ presents a comprehensive introduction to the methods and tools used in philosophical enquiry. Tools and methods that are often assumed but not explicitly identified or revealed through other approaches to introducing philosophy. The book is easy enough to read and each chapter is a self contained reading dedicated to exploring a given tool or approach. In sum ‘Toolkit’ may be a helpful teaching aid, especially for understanding and assessing the skills that ‘should’ be acquired by students in learning philosophy.
Limitations: Given the nature of the subject matter, the book can be a little dry to read. It is not written specifically with secondary school study in mind and in most cases (excluding courses/lessons in critical thinking or conceptual analysis) the content does not really present itself as something to teach by itself.

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