Making Sense

Making Sense : Philosophy Behind the Headlines

3.55 (52 ratings by Goodreads)
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Making Sense examines the philosophical issues and disputes that lie behind the news headlines of the day. We read about what is happening in the world, but how do we know what the truth is, or whether there is one 'truth' at all? A president has his private sexual affairs discussed and analysed by everyone, but is the private life of anyone the proper moral concern of others? A war against terrorism is declared, but what justifies the use of armed forces with its inevitable loss of life? Making Sense draws out these philosophical disputes and shows how we can use the techniques of philosophy and the insights of its greatest practitioners to understand the issues behind the headlines better. It explains the proper role of philosophy in this respect, showing both the limits and the reach of philosophical analysis of current affairs. It also argues that applying philosophy to news stories can and should inform our wider understanding; what we know, believe and value. A philosophically informed reading of the news creates a two-way process where philosophy sheds light on the news and the news, thus illuminated, sheds light on our philosophy.The book covers themes such as war, truth, morality, the environment, religious faith, the ending of life and the meaning of value. It examines such news stories as the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, the war against terrorism, the siege at Waco, the genetically modified foods debate and advances in human therapeutic cloning. The discussions interweave philosophy and current affairs to create a compelling narrative that challenges how we make sense both of the world around us and of our own beliefs.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 146 x 192 x 30mm | 439.98g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • c.20 integrated b/w
  • 0192803395
  • 9780192803399

About Julian Baggini

Julian Baggini is the founder and editor of The Philosophers' Magazine. He also writes for the Independent, Times Educational Supplement, and New Humanist and has a regular column in The Skeptic. His books include The Philosopher's Toolkit, Philosophy: Five Key Themes, and Philosophy: Five Key Texts. He lives in the U.K.show more

Review Text

In this excellent book, Julian Baggini takes ten news stories from recent years and uses them to illustrate a constructive relationship between philosophy and real life. Although not exactly a call to arms, the book is asking for a rethink of the way we view both: to paraphrase Baggini, philosophy informs life and life shapes philosophy, and it's about time we recognized the useful links that can be forged between the two. A brief concern with debunking the myth of philosopher as unworldly intellectual being, an equally quick chastisement of the intellectual community for encouraging the propagation of this image, and he's off and running: it is evidently Baggini's style to do rather than say, and he does well with the material he has chosen. Ethical, political, scientific and 'classical' philosophy (embodied, in this case, by the problem of knowledge) all get a fair play, with a perceptible leaning towards the ethical. The stories that make the cornerstones of these discussions have been well selected, with major media talking-points providing a clear access to the underlying arguments Baggini constructs for each example. As the book progresses more general philosophic themes are replaced by fairly technical concepts and subtle distinctions - the calculation of value, for one - which are dealt with in a manner that belies their complexity. For the most part the familiarity of the news stories paves the way for an impressively uncomplicated tutorial on sometimes intractable ideas: and this, of course, is basically the point of the book, and a practical man's return to the rebuke visited on the academics and the media in its introduction. The point is that philosophy has a valuable part to play in deciphering the media, and that the media can show us which of our intellectual tools are really useful. A pudding proved, in this case, in the eating. (Kirkus UK)show more

Table of contents

Introduction: Philosophy behind the headlines; 1. Knowing the truth; 2. Doing the right thing; 3. The thinking voter; 4. The call to arms; 5. In the wake of science; 6. The environment; 7. When faith meets reason; 8. Calculating value; 9. The life and death of the self; 10. Conclusion: Philosophy beyond the headlinesshow more

Review quote

Interweaves philosophy and current affairs to create a compelling narrative that challenges how we make sense both of the world around us and of our own beliefs.show more

Rating details

52 ratings
3.55 out of 5 stars
5 13% (7)
4 38% (20)
3 40% (21)
2 6% (3)
1 2% (1)
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