Utopias, Dolphins and Computers: Problems of Philosophical Plumbing

Utopias, Dolphins and Computers: Problems of Philosophical Plumbing

Utopias, Dolphins and Computers: Problems of Philosophical Plumbing

Utopias, Dolphins and Computers: Problems of Philosophical Plumbing

Synopsis

Why do the big philosophical questions so often strike us as far-fetched and little to with everyday life? Mary Midgley shows that it need not be that way; she shows that there is a need for philosophy in the real world. Her popularity as one of our foremost philosophers is based on a no-nonsense, down-to-earth approach to fundamental human problems, philosphical or otherwise. In Utopias, Dolphins and Computersshe makes her case for philosophy as a difficult but necessary tool for solving some of the most pressing issues facing contemporary society.
How should we treat animals? Why are we so confused about the value of education? What is at stake in feminism? Why should we sustain our environment? Why do we think intelligent computers will save us? Mary Midgley argues that philosophy not only can, but should be used in thinking about these questions.
Utopias, Dolphins and Computerswill make fascinating reading for philosophers, educationalists, feminists, environmentalists and indeed anyone interested in the questions of philosophy, ethics and life.

Excerpt

This is one book although its chapters were originally written as separate papers. Its theme has two sides. On the one hand I discuss the huge difficulties which we experience in trying to theorize about the world-some of them timeless, unavoidable difficulties, some sharply contemporary. On the other hand, I point to certain special aspects of our present world where I think philosophy is badly needed and can be really helpful-aspects such as the position of women and that of animals, the state of the environment, the plurality of cultures, the meaning of artificial intelligence.

The earlier chapters of this book concentrate more on the inner, philosophical difficulties, the later ones more on the outward aspect, the current state of these particular topics in the world. But throughout I have tried to develop the two concerns together so as to make them illuminate one another as much as possible. I have brought these papers together in order to do this, since they seemed to me to contain points which made more sense together than they might seem to do apart. They have been chosen with this aim in mind and I have revised them thoroughly so as to bring out links between them and to shape a common theme.

Although most of the papers have appeared somewhere before, they have done so in the most diverse places and some of them would now be quite hard to find. I must therefore thank the various editors and publishers responsible, for their earlier hospitality and for giving permission to reprint these pieces. Their original sites were as follows:

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