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Philosophy
Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism

Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism

Larry Siedentop

$22.99

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This ambitious and stimulating book describes how a moral revolution in the first centuries AD - the discovery of human freedom and its universal potential - led to a social revolution in the west. The invention of a new, equal social role, the individual, gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe and caste as the basis of social organisation.

Larry Siedentop asks us to rethink the evolution of the ideas on which modern societies and government are built, and argues that the core of what is now our system of beliefs emerged much earlier than we think. The roots of liberalism - belief in individual liberty, in the fundamental moral equality of individuals, that equality should be the basis of a legal system and that only a representative form of government is fitting for such a society - all these, Siedentop argues, were pioneered by Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, who drew on the moral revolution carried out by the early church. It was the arguments of canon lawyers, theologians and philosophers from the eleventh to the fourteenth century, rather than the Renaissance, that laid the foundation for liberal democracy.

There are large parts of the world where other beliefs flourish - fundamentalist Islam, which denies the equality of women and is often ambiguous about individual rights and representative institutions; quasi-capitalist China, where a form of utilitarianism enshrines state interests even at the expense of justice and liberty. Such beliefs may foster populist forms of democracy. But they are not liberal.

In the face of these challenges, Siedentop urges that understanding the origins of our own liberal ideas is more than ever an important part of knowing who we are.
The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically

The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically

Peter Singer

$32.99

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Peter Singer, often described as the world's most influential living philosopher, presents a challenging new movement in the search for an ethical life, one that has emerged from his own work on some of the world's most pressing problems. Effective altruism involves doing the most good possible. It requires a rigorously unsentimental view of charitable giving, urging that a substantial proportion of our money or time should be donated to the organisations that will do the most good with those resources, rather than to those that tug the heartstrings. Singer introduces us to an array of remarkable people who are restructuring their lives in accordance with these ideas, and shows how, paradoxically, effective altruism often leads to greater personal fulfilment.
A Brief Guide to Philosophical Classics: From Plato to Winnie the Pooh

A Brief Guide to Philosophical Classics: From Plato to Winnie the Pooh

Diane Law

$22.99

Big ideas sometimes come from the strangest places. In this wide ranging introduction, James M Russell takes the fear out of philosophy and selects seventy-six works - from Plato, Descartes and Wittgenstein to Philip K Dick and the Moomins as well as contemporary thinkers such as Peter Singer and John Rawls. Dividing into accessible sections - history, contemplation, happiness, and -isms, Russell gives us the lives as well as the lessons of the great thinkers, including a digest of their key ideas. A perfect antidote to the complex life.
Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool

Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool

Jennifer Jacquet

$39.99

In Is Shame Necessary? Jennifer Jacquet shows that we have to use shame if we want to bring about political change and hold the powerful to account. In our individualistic world, is shame an outdated, moralising concept - or is it something that we can rediscover and use in a new way? What can we gain from redefining shame to help solve the key social and political issues of our time?

In this urgent, illuminating book, Jennifer Jacquet argues that, if we want to make large-scale fixes, we need to become active citizens, ready to find creative ways to shame those who have the power to bring about political and social change but aren't. Individual guilt and modified consumption don't compare to the possibilities of using shame as a non-violent form of resistance. 

From the mimes hired by the mayor of Bogota in the fight against bad driving behaviour to the online list published by the state of California singling out the top five hundred businesses and individuals who aren't paying their taxes, Jacquet uses real-life examples to show how shaming is relevant to the twenty-first century.  Detailing how to change behaviour, she outlines seven habits of highly effective shaming that will allow us to make companies act ethically, hold governments to account when they ignore laws, and get more people to cast their vote. 

Shaming works best when used sparingly, but when applied in just the right way, in just the right quantity, and at just the right time, it can perhaps keep us from failing ourselves and the planet.
           
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