In the age of the internet, we have all seen it a dozen times: Traditionalists, relativists, advocates of logical thinking and advocates of the scientific worldview at loggerheads, wondering how seemingly rational beings can start with first principles that are apparently at odds with each other to such a degree.
In the wild, we see each of these factions routinely misjudging the level of credibility that the other positions ought to command if they were evaluated in a sober light. Timothy Williamson, a professor of philosophy at Oxford University presents a dialogue between idealized representatives of each of these four factions.
These characters may seem like exaggerated caricatures, but in this work, their function is to present each position in its ideal purity even if this requires them to behave like robots so that we can evaluate their statements fairly without being distracted by attempts at hedging or dilution. If you want to participate in or follow debates of this nature, then you might want a glimpse into what analytic philosophy in its contemporary state thinks would be a fair evaluation of each.
If that is what this book attempts to be, does it succeed? Considering its size, I think it does a good job at covering a surprisingly large fraction of the basic fallacies and misunderstandings that are pervasive in these debates. However, I do not think this book presents each position in THE strongest possible light. Whether the author was concerned about the book becoming too long or whether I'm deluding myself, the fact is that even I am able to think of ways to make the arguments stronger.
Having said that, I really enjoyed the book and I strongly hope Prof. Williamson and other professional philosophers would write more books that reach out to laymen like me.
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press UK; Reprint edition (15 January 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198777175
- ISBN-13: 978-0198777175
- Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 1.8 x 13 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 18.1 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)