The Ten Most Popular Philosophy Articles from Think

Cambridge University Press has collected the most downloaded articles in 2009 from their journal Think: Philosophy for Everyone (which includes Groothius’ article, as previously posted).  The journal has contributions from leading philosophers, with articles by Alvin Plantinga, Paul Helm, Anthony Flew, Michael Ruse, Richard Swinburne and our own New Zealand philosopher, Matt Flannagan.  If you’re not fortunate enough to have subscription access via an academic institution, the free samples are a good introduction to some of the issues in the field.

Here are the top articles:

Who Designed the Designer?: A Dialogue on Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion
Douglas Groothuis
Think , Volume 8 , Issue 21 , Mar 2009 , pp 71-81

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins argues that any designer capable of creating the universe and the things we find in it would have to be at least as complex as his creation. If complexity requires a designer, then the designer will require a designer, and so on to infinity. Rather than actually providing an explanation for complexity we see around us, those who invoke a cosmic designer merely postpone the problem. Here, Douglas Groothuis challenges Dawkins’s argument.

Why Hobbits Cannot Exist
Ben Kotzee and J.P. Smit
Think , Volume 8 , Issue 21 , Mar 2009 , pp 29-36

Kotzee and Smit explain why, if unicorns don’t exist, then they could not possibly have existed. In fact, even if horned horses were discovered somewhere, they would not necessarily be unicorns. The key to understanding why this is so lies in understanding how so-called natural kind terms function.

Richard Swinburne’s Is there a God?
Richard Dawkins
Think, Volume 2, Issue 04, June 2003, pp 51-54

In this review of Richard Swinburne’s Is There a God? (which contains the same two arguments from design that may be found in his article in issue one of Think), Richard Dawkins admires Swinburne’s clarity but is unconvinced by his arguments. Dawkins questions, in particular, Swinburne’s suggestion that the hypothesis that God exists and sustains his creation is simpler than the hypothesis that there is no God.

A Dialogue on Immortality
Mikel Burley
Think , Volume 8 , Issue 21 , Mar 2009 , pp 91-97

The fictional case of Elina Makropulos has been a focus for philosophical reflections on immortality. Here Mikel Burley presents a conversation between Elina and two imaginary philosophers (some, but not all, of whose views bear a passing resemblance to those of Bernard Williams and John Martin Fischer respectively).

Justice as a Natural Phenomenon
Ken Binmore
Think , Volume 8 , Issue 22 , Jun 2009 , pp 7-23

This article is my latest attempt to come up with a minimal version of my evolutionary theory of fairness, previously summarized in my book Natural Justice. The naturalism that I espouse is currently unpopular, but Figure 1 shows that the scientific tradition in moral philosophy nevertheless has a long and distinguished history. John Mackie’s Inventing Right and Wrong is the most eloquent expression of the case for naturalism in modern times. Mackie’s demolition of the claims made for a priori reasoning in moral philosophy seem unanswerable to me.

After my Own Heart: Dorothy Sayers’ Feminism
Susan Haack
Think , Volume 7 , Issue 19 , Jun 2008 , pp 23-33

Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night, published in 1936, explores still-topical questions about the relation of epistemological and ethical values, and about the place of women in the life of the mind. In her wry reflections on the radical differences between today’s feminist philosophy and Sayers’ no-nonsense observation that “women are more like men than anything else on earth,” Susan Haack draws both on this detective story and on Sayers’ wonderfully brisk essay, ‘Are Women Human?’

The Golden Rule
Brad Hooker
Think , Volume 4 , Issue 10 , Jun 2005 , pp 25-29

Should you always do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Brad Hooker investigates a seemingly plausible-looking moral principle: the Golden Rule.

Morality with and without God
Terence Thomas
Think , Volume 7 , Issue 20 , Dec 2008 , pp 47-55

It began with a lie. Perhaps not a big lie, at least I didn’t think so at the time, but a lie nevertheless. My Vicar had taken me for an interview with our Bishop following my application, supported by him, to undergo ordination training. My Vicar had prepared me well except that he never warned me that I would be asked if I was sure that I had a vocation. I had to hazard a guess at what this question meant. I wanted to be a clergyman like the Vicar and I sensed that if I answered: “No”, to the bishop’s question, I probably wouldn’t be proceeding much further. So I said “Yes”, not really knowing what I was committing myself to. Later I worked out that the question was meant to reassure the bishop that I had had a word from God. At the end, many, many years later, when I admitted to myself that there really wasn’t a god, it was the same question that rose up to meet me. By then I had to admit that I had never, ever had a word from God.

Could a Machine Think?
Stephen Law
Think, Volume 1, Issue 01, March 2002, pp 55-65

The year is 2100. Geena is the proud new owner of Emit, a state-of-the-art robot. She has just unwrapped him, the packaging strewn across the dining room floor. Emit is designed to replicate the outward behaviour of a human being down to the last detail (except that he is rather more compliant and obedient). Emit responds to questions in much the same way humans do. Ask him how he feels and he will say he has had a tough day, has a slight headache, is sorry he broke that vase, and so on. Geena flips the switch at the back of Emit’s neck to ‘on’. Emit springs to life.

Is Atheism a Faith Position?
Piers Benn
Think, Volume 5, Issue 13, June 2006, pp 25-34

In a recent issue of Think, Brenda Watson suggested that atheism is also a ‘faith position’. Here, Piers Benn looks more closely at this often-made suggestion.

Also check out the free essays in the March issue of the journal, such as The Emperor’s Incoherent New Clothes – Pointing the Finger at Dawkins’ Atheism by Peter S. Williams and Against Mythicism: A Case for the Plausibility of a Historical Jesus by Edmund Standing.