Skip to main content
US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

The Philosophy Gym

25 Short Adventures in Thinking

Stephen Law

Thomas Dunne Books

The Philosophy Gym Download image

ISBN10: 0312314523
ISBN13: 9780312314521


224 Pages



Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

The Philosophy Gym is a readable and engaging collection of "adventures in thinking" about the key philosophical issues of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Writer, editor, and professor Law presents 25 philosophical questions/issues/problems ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging—and so brings new perspectives to age-old conundrums while also tackling contemporary dilemmas: from Descartes to designer babies, from machines that think to morality without God.

Can a pickled sheep truly be considered art? Is time travel possible? Where did the universe come from? How might we best define knowledge? This student-friendly primer represents a new way of approaching philosophy, whereby a puzzle or problem is depicted as a brief story and then its opposing arguments unfold as in a narrative, often with back-and-forth dialogue—and all the while battling it out in clear, digestible, intelligent prose.


Praise for The Philosophy Gym

"Law's book is an admirable introduction . . . The quality of discussion is enough to fend off any thought that this is simply philosophy lite . . . Students will love it."—The Times (U.K.)

"Law's text is substantial, and sound, too. It is excellent for solo reading, and yet perfect for getting a group discussion going."—Philosophy Magazine (U.K.)

"A vivid, enlightening introduction to clear thinking."—Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy

"An irresistible, easy-going introduction to the fundamentals of philosophical thought."—The Scotsman (U.K.)

"British philosopher and editor Law explores 25 of life's Big Questions in a sprightly volume designed to be a 'course in thinking philosophically' . . . Lay readers looking for a comprehensible introduction to critical thinking will benefit from Law's straightforward exposition of each topic; opposing arguments are clearly organized in a tennis match of sorts: Law has two diners, for example, spar over whether eating meat can be morally justified. (Animals eat other animals, one says. But they don't know right from wrong, his companion says. Eating animals comes naturally to us, says the first. But so does violence, says the second. Etc.) . . . The writing is lively and accessible, thanks to Law's passion for his subject and his creative use of zany conversations between future scientists about the possibility of time travel, for example, and his whimsical examples of strange objects called 'fubbyloofers' to demonstrate the difficulty of determining what is art. The best of these essays end inconclusively, encouraging readers to consult the additional resources Law recommends."—Publishers Weekly

"In brief chapters presented with a mix of narrative and arch dialogue, such philosophical issues as the ethics of meat eating, the existence of God, and the nature of common errors in reasoning are presented . . . Law is the editor of Think, a British journal whose mission is to bring philosophy into popular public view. This collection reflects that effort to popularize theory and make it accessible to an audience with no technical background. Each 'exercise' offers a bit of historical staging and glimpses at some of the traditional arguments . . . Daniel Postgate's illustrations are both useful and humorous."—Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Stephen Law

Stephen Law is a lecturer in philosphy at the University of London, was formerly Research Fellow in Philosophy at Queen's College, Oxford and received his doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Oxford.

Stephen Law

Official Links