This Is Philosophy: An Introduction
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This is Philosophy: An Introduction offers an engagingly written introduction to philosophical concepts that include ethics, the existence of God, free will, personal identity, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. 

  • Conveys the excitement and importance of philosophy while explaining difficult concepts clearly for the average undergraduate
  • Represents a student-friendly yet knowledgeable guide to the questions, problems, and great thinkers of philosophy
  • Extensive online student and instructor resources. Features chapter-by-chapter links to supplemental materials and freely available online primary sources, a glossary, student comprehension self-assessment exercises, and more.
  • Instructors can also access a 175-question test bank and answer key, 40 PowerPoint lectures  Available at


Steven D. Hales is Professor of Philosophy at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He has been a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and is a past winner of Bloomsburg University’s Outstanding Teaching Award. Dr. Hales’s books include Relativism and the Foundations of Philosophy, A Companion to Relativism, and Beer & Philosophy.


How to Use This Book xiii

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xvii

1 Ethics: Preliminary Theories 1

The Normative Universe 1

Is Morality Just Acting on Principles? 3

Divine Command Theory (Is Morality Just What God Tells Me to Do?) 6

Egoism (Is Morality Just My Own Personal Code?) 10

Psychological and ethical egoism 11

Objections to ethical egoism 16

Moral Relativism (Is Morality Just How Society Says We Should Act?) 19

Descriptive and moral relativism 19

Criticism objection 22

Annotated Bibliography 24

Online Resources 25

2 Ethics: The Big Three Theories 27

Utilitarianism (Is Morality Doing What I Can to Make This the Best World Possible?) 27

Consequentialism and hedonism 28

Measuring pains and pleasures 31

Quality and quantity 33

Objections to utilitarianism 37

Deontology, or Kantianism (Is There an Absolute Moral Law?) 42

Imperatives and good motives 43

Categorical imperative (version 1) 44

Categorical imperative (version 2) 47

Objections to deontology 49

Virtue Ethics (Is Morality All about Having a Virtuous Character?) 52

What is virtue? 53

What is character? 54

Objections to virtue ethics 54

Conclusion 60

Annotated Bibliography 60

Online Resources 61

3 God 63

Faith 64

Faith as confi dence 64

Faith as belief without reason 64

The Attributes of God 66

Why There Is a God 67

The argument from scripture 67

The ontological argument 71

The cosmological argument 75

The teleological argument or the argument from design 80

Pascal's wager 88

Why There Is No God 95

Proving a negative 96

The argument from religious pluralism 97

The problem of evil 99

Conclusion 107

Annotated Bibliography 108

Online Resources 110

4 Freedom 115

Why There Is No Free Will, Part 1: Divine Foreknowledge 116

Presentation of the argument 117

Objection 1: Atheism and agnosticism 117

Objection 2: Aristotle’s answer 118

Why There Is No Free Will, Part 2: A Regress of Reasons for Acting 119

Previous decisions vs. outside forces 120

The regress of reasons argument against free will 123

The digger wasp 125

Why There Is No Free Will, Part 3: The Dilemma Argument 126

The threat of determinism 127

Will randomness make us free? 130

The dilemma argument against free will 131

Free will and moral responsibility 132

Agent causation 136

Compatibilism 138

The Feeling of Freedom 141

Conclusion 143

Annotated Bibliography 144

Online Resources 145

5 Self 149

The Problem of Difference and the Problem of Sameness 149

The problem of difference 149

The problem of sameness 150

Preliminary Positions 151

The luz bone 151

Fingerprints 152

DNA 153

The Soul Criterion 153

Conceptions of the soul 153

Objections to the supernatural soul criterion 155

The Physicalist Criterion 160

Abigail—the case of ordinary aging 161

Closest physical continuer relation 161

Kenny—the case of loss 164

Brain transplants 166

The Psychological Criterion 168

Closest psychological continuer relation 169

The Bundle Theory 178

Split-brain surgery 178

Buddha and Hume 180

The Sex Pistols 182

Conclusion 183

Annotated Bibliography 184

Online Resources 185

6 Mind 189

The Rare and Mysterious Mind 189

First Theory of the Mind: Substance Dualism 190

Physical and mental substances 191

Descartes's conceivability argument for dualism 191

Objections to substance dualism 193

Second Theory of the Mind: Behaviorism 198

Explanation of the theory 198

Objection: Mental states without behavior 200

Third Theory of the Mind: Mind-Brain Identity Theory 202

Explanation of the theory 202

Objections to the mind-brain identity theory 203

Fourth Theory of the Mind: Functionalism 209

Explanation of the theory 209

Objections to functionalism 211

Conclusion 216

Annotated Bibliography 217

Online Resources 219

7 Knowledge 223

The Value of Truth 223

The rational principle 224

The hedonist’s challenge 225

The Value of Evidence 228

Fraud and quackery 229

Ways we can go wrong 231

How Much Evidence Do We Need? 231

Part 1: We need a lot 231

Part 2: Go on, take a chance 234

Sources of Evidence 240

Perception, testimony, memory, reason 240

Empiricism 241

The Nature of Knowledge 243

Analysis of knowledge, first attempt 244

Analysis of knowledge, second attempt 245

The Skeptic's Challenge 246

Modest skepticism and radical skepticism 246

Dreamers, demons, and movies 247

The theater of the mind 250

The Counterfeit Detector 256

Genuine and counterfeit money 256

Particularism and methodism 257

The wheel 258

Annotated Bibliography 261

Online Resources 263

Index 265


Professor Hales has here provided a textbook that presents philosophy in a way that students will find compelling and readily accessible. This is Philosophy strikes the right balance in approaching traditional philosophical problems from a contemporary perspective.

-Anthony Kreider, Miami Dade College

This Is Philosophy succeeds in a quite difficult task: to simultaneously engage the reader with clear exposition of a philosophical topic while providing a foundation for classroom discussion. The reader is led to focus on a single question at a time, and so is not overwhelmed, yet connections are drawn between various questions to show how issues are related. This is an excellent and welcome new text.

-Jay Newhard, East Carolina University

This is a terrific book. The writing is not only extremely clear, it is downright gripping - with relevant and detailed examples at every turn. Steven Hales has produced not just a great little introduction to philosophy - he has produced a great little book in philosophy period.

-Michael Lynch, University of Connecticut