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January 26, 2019

Everyday Philosophy

No dead guys with beards in this reading list, we promise.

We love heavy-duty philosophical inquiry as much as the next guy. (Our recent essays on Sartre, critical theory, and fatalism are all well worth your time.) But philosophy isn’t just about lofty ideas and what it all truly means.

Philosophical thought can also be applied to our daily lives, helping us ponder why and how we do what we do. This week’s reading list does just that with some of our best thinkers turning their gaze to the familiar (such as baseball or dogs) and offering responses to quotidian questions (such as, should I give money to charity?).

This everyday philosophy is just as important as the big stuff since, as Agnes Callard reminds us in her essay, “when nothing is happening, we engage in especially sophisticated forms of thinking.”

—Rosie Gillies

Agnes Callard
A new book wants us to navigate life’s crossroads with the precision of a military exercise. But personal decisions are more difficult than even the most consequential political decisions.
John Rawls
Philosopher John Rawls on the delights of baseball.
Paul Bloom

Most people own things they don’t really need. It is worth thinking about why.

Peter Singer

A minimally acceptable ethical life involves using a substantial part of one’s spare resources to make the world a better place.

Colin Dayan

On Gregory Berns's How Dogs Love Us.

Vivian Gornick

Every day we transgress against our own longing to act well.

John McMahon

Government incentives may make us less moral, not more.

Rebecca Saxe
How our brains help us understand other people.

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Sign up for our newsletters to get them straight to your inbox before they appear online.

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