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The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy 10th Edition

Robert C. Solomon, Kathleen M. Higgins

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2014
  • 464 Pages
Starting At 60.00 See pricing and ISBN options


Solomon and Higgins's engaging text covers philosophy's central ideas in an accessible, approachable manner. Through an exploration of timeless "big questions" about the self, God, justice, and other meaningful topics, the authors provide students with the context they need for an understanding of the foundational issues, while giving them the impetus and confidence to establish their own informed positions on these "big questions." To give you maximum flexibility to fit the book to your course, each chapter is designed with self-contained discussions, making it easy for you to choose your preferred topics and presentation order. This edition is now also available with MindTap® Philosophy, the digital learning solution that helps instructors engage and transform today’s philosophy students into critical thinkers.

Robert C. Solomon, University of Texas, Austin

Robert C. Solomon (1942-2007) was internationally renowned as a teacher and lecturer in philosophy. He was Quincy Lee Centennial Professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and over the course of his career taught at numerous institutions, including Princeton University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Auckland, and the University of California, in addition to the University of Texas. He authored more than 40 books, including Introducing Philosophy, A Short History of Philosophy (with Kathleen Higgins), The Passions, In the Spirit of Hegel, About Love, Above the Bottom Line, Fourth Edition (with Clancy Martin), Ethics and Excellence, The Joy of Philosophy, and True to Our Feelings, and he was co-editor of Twenty Questions, Fifth Edition (with Lee Bowie and Meredith Michaels), and Since Socrates (with Clancy Martin).

Kathleen M. Higgins, University of Texas, Austin

Kathleen M. Higgins is professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University and has taught at the University of Auckland and the University of California, Riverside, in addition to the University of Texas. She is the author of several books, including Nietzsche's "Zarathustra," The Music of Our Lives, Comic Relief: Nietzsche's "Gay Science," The Music between Us: Is Music the Universal Language? and co-author of What Nietzsche Really Said, A Short History of Philosophy, and A Passion for Wisdom (with Robert C. Solomon). She has edited or co-edited numerous books, including Aesthetics in Perspective and Thirteen Questions in Ethics and Social Philosophy, Second Edition (with Lee Bowie and Meredith Michaels).
  • In this new edition, the authors have summarized the general layout of each chapter toward the beginning (usually within the first few paragraphs or at the end of the first section). Boxed features provide supporting material to complement what is discussed in the body of the text. The boxes in this edition fall primarily into three categories: biography, concept, and quotation boxes.
  • A number of topics that were not or were barely discussed in the previous edition are addressed in this edition: liberation theology (Chapter 3), intellectual virtues (Chapter 8), practical syllogisms (Chapter 8), metaethics (Chapter 8), good will (Chapter 8), and the mean (Chapter 8).
  • This engaging text is organized around a series of timeless "big questions" such as the meaning of life, God, and morality, giving students of all backgrounds and interest levels a useful, relevant context to approach key philosophical concepts, explore their own ideas, and form their own opinions as they examine each topic.
  • By starting the discussion in each chapter from the positions and opinions often held by typical first- and second-year students, the authors engage the students in "doing" philosophy right from the start and then, using their signature conversational style, guide students Socratically through an analysis of the issues surrounding each of the big questions.
  • Throughout the text, special boxed features present excerpts from primary sources to expose students to fundamental works in the history of philosophy, allowing them to benefit from a more informed perspective without the need to confront difficult or intimidating texts in their entirety.
  • Biographical descriptions of famous thinkers and their views help students recognize philosophical ideas and texts as the work of real people with experiences and struggles relevant to students' own lives, providing an invaluable human connection to help them understand and appreciate even difficult course material.
  • Concept boxes focus the student’s attention on key concepts and important distinctions. Application boxes enable the student to apply key concepts in situations that they encounter in everyday life.
  • Biography boxes are indicated by the heading "Meet the Philosopher" (or, occasionally, "Meet the Thinker"), and they provide a glimpse into the lives of many of the philosophers covered in the main text.
  • "From the Source" boxes offer a wide variety of quotations and brief excerpts from key philosophical writings, as well as relevant popular sources.
  • "Master the Concepts" boxes draw attention to important terms and point out important conceptual distinctions.
  • Occasional "Apply the Concept" boxes also encourage the student to link particular philosophical concepts with phenomena they encounter in everyday life.
  • The sources of quotations are more evident than in previous editions by virtue of a section of endnotes (under the heading "Works Cited") at the end of each chapter showing the source of each quotation, followed by other suggested readings.
  • This edition is also supplemented by an expanded range of options through MindTap, a personalized program of digital products and services that provides interactive engagement for students and offers a range of choices in content, platforms, devices and learning tools.
  • In this edition, Chapters 10 and 11 in the previous edition have been rearranged in order to group the chapter entitled "Beauty," which is primarily Western in focus, with the other chapters on Western philosophy. It is then followed by the chapter on non-Western philosophy.
  • The chapter on ethics in this edition has considerably expanded discussion of basic moral theories and gives greater indication of how they can be applied to situations in everyday life.
Doing Philosophy. A Little Logic. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
What is Philosophy? Opening Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. What Kind of Meaning? The Meanings of Life. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
3. GOD.
Opening Questions. Believing in God, Gods and Goddesses. The Traditional Western Conceptions of God. The Problem of Evil. Faith and Reason: Grounds for Believing.
Religious Tolerance: Ritual, Tradition, and Spirituality. Doubts. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. The Real World. What is Most Real? The First Metaphysicians. Early Nonphysical Views of Reality. Plato’s Forms. Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Mind and Metaphysics. Idealism. Teleology. Metaphysics and the Everyday World. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. What is True? Two Kinds of Truth. Rationalism and Empiricism. The Presuppositions of Knowledge. Skepticism. Knowledge, Truth, and Science. The Nature of Truth. Rationality. Subjective Truth and the Problem of Relativism. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
6. SELF.
Opening Questions. The Essential Self. The Self and Its Emotions. The Egocentric Predicament. The Mind-Body Problem. Other Theories of the Self. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. Freedom and the Good Life. Free Will and Determinism. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. Moral Philosophy. Pleasure and the Good Life. The Place of Self-Interest: Egoism Versus Altruism. Morality: Relative or Absolute? Morality and Theories of Morality. Duty-Defined Morality. Consequentialist Theories. Aristotle and the Ethics of Virtue. Feminist Ethics: The Ethics of Care. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. Morals and Society. The Nature of Society. Who Should Rule? The Question of Legitimacy. Anarchism, the Free Market, and the Need for Government. What is Justice? The Meaning of Equality. The Origins of Justice and Social Contract. Justice Beyond Our Borders. Rights and the Self. Justice Denied: The Problem of Race. Sexual Politics: The Rise of Feminist Philosophy. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. Aesthetics, Beauty and Truth. Enjoying Tragedy. Arguing About Taste, Art, Ethics, and Religion. Why Is It Art? The Aesthetics of Popular Culture. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Opening Questions. Beyond the Western Tradition. The Challenges of Broadening Our Horizons. Other Cultures, Other Philosophies. Closing Questions. Key Words. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Appendix A: Writing Philosophy.
Opening Questions. The Rules of Good Writing in Philosophy. Indirect Styles. Works Cited. Other Suggested Readings.
Appendix B: Deductive Logic Valued Argument Forms.
Works Cited.
Appendix C: Common Informal Fallacies.
Informal Fallacies. Works Cited.
Each MindTap product offers the full, mobile-ready textbook combined with superior and proven learning tools at one affordable price. Students who purchase digital access can add a print option at any time when a print option is available for their course.

This Cengage solution can be seamlessly integrated into most Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Brightspace by D2L, Canvas, Moodle, and more) but does require a different ISBN for access codes. Please work with your Cengage Learning Consultant to ensure the proper course set up and ordering information. For additional information, please visit the LMS Integration site.

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Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.


Instructor's Companion Website

ISBN: 9781305956261
Everything you need for your course in one place! This collection of product-specific lecture and class tools is available online via the instructor resource center at

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Cengage Learning Testing, powered by Cognero® is a flexible, online system that allows you to import, edit, and manipulate content from the text’s test bank or elsewhere, including your own favorite test questions; create multiple test versions in an instant; and deliver tests from your LMS, your classroom, or wherever you want.