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Philosophy Research and Writing: Reference Texts

Getting your bearings on a given philosophical topic that you are unfamiliar with can be incredibly difficult at times. There are remarkably few philosophical issues upon which there is a broad and widely unchallenged consensus within the field. As such, when trying to understand a particular philosophical problem, it is a great idea to find out the different ways that philosophers have attempted to understand that problem. This approach can allow for a much more well-rounded understanding of the relevant philosophical issues. Below are some incredibly useful handbooks and encyclopedias covering all of the significant areas of philosophy with excellent overviews of the central problems in all of those areas!

Philosophical Methodology

In many ways, philosophy is not something that one learns, but something that one does. The question of how best to approach philosophical problems is itself a philosophical problem surrounded by a great deal of debate. 

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General Philosophy

Metaphysics and Epistemology

What is the ultimate structure of reality? How do we know what we know? Can we even know anything at all? When people think about philosophy, it is often questions like these that come to mind. Working out and rigorously defending answers to these questions is the task of those philosophers who are engaged in the areas known as metaphysics and epistemology.

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Logic and Philosophy of Language

Beginning largely with advances in formal logic taking place around the beginning of 20th century, logic and the philosophy of language have taken a central place in philosophical debate. Questions of the proper manner of reasoning and the relationship between language and the world are ones around which a great deal of research has occured.

Ethics and Political Philosophy

Trying to figure out what the right thing to do is, or thinking about what it means to live a good life are things everyone does. Ethics is the branch of philosophy that tries to answer these perennial questions, among others, in a rigorous and well thought out manner. 

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Credit

This research guide was created by the 2019-20 Library Research Fellow Yassin Nacer in partnership with the Undergraduate Library Fellows Program.