Reflections on the Issues of Philosophy
I began this journal purely for my own edification, after having been out of college for awhile and feeling
withdrawal from the kind of analytical thinking that my classes forced me to undertake. All of the texts in this
journal come from Classical Philosophical Questions (Twelfth Edition), edited by James Gould and Robert
Mulvaney. This anthology provides an adequate survey of nearly all of the key issues within the field of
philosophy, and has therefore allowed me to develop my opinions on a wide range of topics. Each entry consists
of a detailed exposition of a selected text usually rich in quotes to maintain a sense of the writer's style, followed
by my own reflections on the arguments, specifically what I consider its strengths and weaknesses. Though my
perceived audience is that of educated intellectuals already familiar with the topics I am covering, I believe that
my writing is clear enough for even a casual reader without any background in the field to understand. The
practical value of this journal is therefore to make some of the most abstract and difficult philosophical issues
accessible to the casual reader.
Part 1: Plato and the Trial of Socrates
What is Philosophy?
1. & 2. Defining Philosophical Terms - Plato, Euthyphro and the Apology
Part 2: The Value and Methods of Philosophy
What is the Value of Philosophy?
3. The Value of Philosophy - Bertrand Russell, from The Problems of Philosophy
What is the Best Approach to Philosophy?
4. Four Approaches to Philosophy - Charles S. Peirce, "The Fixation of Belief"
5. The Scientific Approach - Herbert Feigl, from "Naturalism and Humanism"
Part 3: Philosophy of Religion
Can We Prove That God Exists?
6. The Ontological Argument - St. Anselm, from Proslogium
7. The Cosmological Argument - St. Thomas Aquinas, from The Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas
8. The Teleological Argument - William Paley, from Natural Theology
9. It Is Better to Believe in God’s Existence Than to Deny It - Blaise Pascal, from Pensees
10. Faith, Not Logic, Is the Basis of Belief - Soren Kierkegaard, from Philosophical Fragments
Does the Idea of a Good God Exclude Evil?
11. A Good God Would Exclude Evil - David Hume, from Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
12. God Can Allow Some Evil - John Hick, from Philosophy of Religion
Part 4: Ethics
Are Humans Free?
13. Humans Are Determined - Baron Holbach, from The System of Nature
14. Humans Are Free - William James, from The Will to Believe
Are Ethics Relative?
15. Ethics Are Relative - Ruth Benedict, "Anthropology and the Abnormal"
16. Ethics Are Not Relative - W. T. Stace, from The Concept of Morals
Are Humans Always Selfish?
17. Humans Are Always Selfish - Plato, from the Republic
18. Humans Are Not Always Selfish - James Rachels, from "Egoism and Moral Skepticism"
Which is Basic in Ethics: Happiness or Obligation?
19. Happiness Is Living Virtuously - Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics
20. Happiness Is Seeking the Greatest Pleasure for the Greatest Number of People - Jeremy Bentham, from An
Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
21. Duty Is Prior to Happiness - Immanuel Kant, from Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals
22. Power Is the Highest Value - Friedrich Nietzsche, from Beyond Good and Evil
23. Existentialist Ethics - Jean-Paul Sartre, from Existentialism
24. Feminist Ethics Are Different - Virginia Held, from "Feminist Reconceptualizations in Ethics"
Part 5: Knowledge
What is Knowledge?
25. Knowledge is Warranted, True Belief - Plato: from the Theaetetus
How Do We Acquire Knowledge?
26. Knowledge Is Not Ultimately Sense Knowledge - René Descartes, from the Meditations
27. Knowledge Is Ultimately Sensed - John Locke, from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
28. Knowledge Is Both Rational and Empirical - Immanuel Kant, from A Critique of Pure Reason
How Is Truth Established?
29. Truth Is Established by Correspondence - Bertrand Russell, from The Problems of Philosophy
30. Truth Is Established by Coherence - Francis Bradley, from Essays on Truth and Reality
31. Truth Is Established on Pragmatic Grounds - William James, from Pragmatism
Can We Know the Nature of Causal Relations?
32. Cause Means Regular Association - David Hume, from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
33. There Are No Possible Grounds For Induction - David Hume, from An Enquiry Concerning Human
Part 6: Metaphysics
Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
34. Being is Uncaused - Parmenides, (untitled fragment)
35. Non-Being Is the Source of Being - Wing-Tsit Chan, from The Way of Lao Tzu
Is Reality General or Particular?
36. Universals Are Real - Plato, from the Republic
37. Particulars Are Real - David Hume, from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
Of What Does Reality Consist?
38. Reality Consists of Mind and Matter - René Descartes, from the Meditations
39. Realisty Consists of Matter - Richard Taylor, from "How to Bury the Mind-Body Problem"
40. Reality Consists of Ideas - George Berkeley, from Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
41. Reality Consists of Mental and Physical Qualities - John Dewey, from Experience and Nature
Do Humans Have an Identical Self?
42. Human Beings Have an Identical Self - John Locke, from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
43. Human Beings Have No Identical Self - David Hume, from A Treatise of Human Nature
Part 7: Social and Political Philosophy
What Is Freedom?
44. Freedom and Authority - Fyodor Dostoevsky, from The Brothers Karamazov
45. Freedom Is Independence from the Majority’s Tyranny - John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty
46. Freedom and Racial Prejudice - Martin Kuther King Jr., from "Love, Law, and Civil Disobedience"
47. Feminism in the New Millennium - Rosemarie Tong, from "A Millennial Feminist Vision"
Which Government Is Best?
48. Monarchy Is Best - Thomas Hobbes, from the Leviathan
49. Democracy Is Best - John Locke, from the Second of Two Treatises of Government
50. Communism and Nonalienated Labour Is Best - Karl Marx, from Manifesto of the Communist Party and
51. Democracy Can Have Serious Problems - Alexis de Tocqueville, from Democracy in America
52. Utopias Lead to Violence - Karl Popper, from Conjectures and Refutations
Part 8: Applied Social and Ethical Problems
The Abortion Issue
53. Are Most Abortions Moral? - Jane English, from the Canadian Journal of Philosophy
The Pornography Issue
54. Should Pornography Be Censored? - David Ward, presentation to the North American Society for Social
The Homosexuality Issue
55. Is Homosexuality Unnatural or Immoral? - James Gould, from the International Journal of Applied
The Animals Rights Issue
56. Do Animals Have Rights? - Peter Singer, from "Animal Liberation at 30"
Part 9: Aesthetics
Are Artistic Judgments Subjective?
57. Tastes Cannot Be Disputed - Curt J. Ducasse, from The Philosophy of Art
58. Tastes Can Be Disputed - Monroe Beardsley, from "Tastes Can Be Disputed"
What Is the Function of Art?
59. Art Purges the Emotions - Aristotle, from The Poetics of Aristotle
60. Magic or Amusement? - R. G. Collingwood, from The Principles of Art
Part 10: The Meaning of Life
What Gives Life Meaning?
61. Faith Provides Life's Meaning - Leo Tolstoy, from My Confession
62. Each Person Determines His or Her Life's Meaning - Albert Camus, from The Myth of Sisyphus