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David Edmonds's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books David Edmonds recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of David Edmonds's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Sceptical Feminist

A Philosophical Enquiry

What should feminists be fighting for? In this study Janet Radcliffe Richards demonstrates what she believes to be the precise nature of the injustice women suffer, and sets out to expose as fallacious arguments by which it has been justified. Her analysis leads her to considerable criticism of many commonly-held feminist views, but from it emerges the outline of a new feminism which sacrifices neither rationality nor radicalism. less
Recommended by David Edmonds, and 1 others.

David EdmondsParfit was my BPhil supervisor, Janet was my DPhil supervisor. I kept it in the family. This is another book that comes from the same generation of 25 years ago. It may be that books of that era have had more influence on me because I was young and impressionable, or it may be that it was simply a generation of really talented philosophers. (Source)

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For and Against

A serious and controversial work in which the authors contribute essays from opposite points of view on utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. less
Recommended by David Edmonds, and 1 others.

David EdmondsThis is a book of two halves. The first half is written by a very eminent Australian philosopher and I can’t remember a word of it, but the second half was important to me. I was a pretty pure utilitarian until I read it, and it countered a lot of the influence of Peter Singer. Williams is a critic of utilitarianism – he thinks it is a deeply simplistic way to view the moral world. He gives a... (Source)

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Reasons and Persons

Challenging, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity, Derek Parfit claims that we have a false view about our own nature. It is often rational to act against our own best interests, he argues, and most of us have moral views that are self-defeating. We often act wrongly, although we know there will be no one with serious grounds for complaint, and when we consider future generations it is very hard to avoid conclusions that most of us will find very disturbing.
Recommended by Will MacAskill, David Edmonds, and 2 others.

Will MacAskillI would say that Derek Parfit was the most brilliant philosopher of the 20th century. His book Reasons and Persons, especially, has over 10,000 citations. (Source)

David EdmondsReasons and Persons was written in 1984, and Derek Parfit was one of my postgraduate supervisors. One of the blurbs on the back of book says “Reasons and Persons is a work of genius”, and I think it is. It’s an incredibly important book, and one written in a tradition completely different to Bernard Williams, even though the two were friends. Bernard Williams is an essayist and he looks at the... (Source)

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Thomas Nagel's Mortal Questions explores some fundamental issues concerning the meaning, nature and value of human life. Questions about our attitudes to death, sexual behaviour, social inequality, war and political power are shown to lead to more obviously philosophical problems about personal identity, consciousness, freedom, and value. This original and illuminating book aims at a form of understanding that is both theoretical and personal in its lively engagement with what are literally issues of life and death. less

Chris KutarnaIf you think philosophy might be interesting then you need a good introduction – this is the best one. (Source)

David EdmondsThis is a wonderful book…a series of chapters on different themes to do with life and death. He has a wonderful essay on equality, a great essay on war, and essays on consciousness as well, which is what makes living things different from dead things. What I love about Nagel is his ability to identify what really matters about a subject, and to write about it without getting caught in too much... (Source)

Andrew Brower Latz (Manchester Grammar School)There are some classic papers in here. The one in which he asks what it’s like to be a bat is an amazing canonical paper about the subjective nature of experience and how forms of reductionism can’t deal with it. That’s still very much a live issue. His essay on sexual perversion is brilliant and has been very influential. ‘Moral Luck’ and ‘The Fragmentation of Value’ raise fundamental questions... (Source)

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Practical Ethics

For thirty years, Peter Singer's Practical Ethics has been the classic introduction to applied ethics. For this third edition, the author has revised and updated all the chapters, and added a new chapter addressing climate change, one of the most important ethical challenges of our generation. Some of the questions discussed in this book concern our daily lives. Is it ethical to buy luxuries when others do not have enough to eat? Should we buy meat from intensively reared animals? Am I doing something wrong if my carbon footprint is above the global average? Other questions confront us as... more

Daniël Lakens@CJFerguson1111 I think you'd like Singer's Practical Ethics - if nothing else it is a great book to disagree with. It nicely goes through all these arguments. Maybe other people can recommend alternative viewpoints to read - but I found this book enlightening. (Source)

Will MacAskillWhen I read it, I had already decided to study philosophy as an undergraduate, but when I read I just was so compelled by the thought that philosophical reasoning is of huge importance and can really change the world. (Source)

David EdmondsPractical Ethics came out in 1979, just before I began studying philosophy. I loved its rigour, and I found Peter Singer almost impossible to argue with. I agreed with almost every position he took on every issue. There were chapters on abortion, on animal rights, on how much money we can give to the poor. It’s really the blueprint for everything he’s written subsequently. He is prolific, but if... (Source)

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