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Secularism, the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education, is an increasingly hot topic in global public, political, and religious debates. Andrew Copson tells the story of secularism, discussing secular republics and the challenges they can face from resurgent religious identity politics.
This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. It explores the fundamental questions and challenges in the field, and looks at philosophical issues in particular sciences, including the problem of classification in biology, and the nature of space and time in physics.
What are our human rights? What are their philosophical justifications and historical origins? Focusing on highly topical issues such as torture, arbitrary detention, privacy, and discrimination, this Very Short Introduction discusses the controversies and complexities behind these vitally relevant issues.
Human beings naturally desire knowledge. But what is knowledge? Is it the same as having an opinion? Highlighting the major developments in the theory of knowledge from Ancient Greece to the present day, Jennifer Nagel uses a number of simple everyday examples to explore the key themes and current debates of epistemology.
International law lies at the heart of our interaction with the global community. It protects rights, imposes duties, and establishes a framework for the conduct of almost every social, political, and economic activity. Vaughan Lowe explains the basic structural principles of international law, and looks at its potential and its limitations.
Chaos exists in systems all around us. This introduction draws in philosophy, literature, and maths to explain Chaos Theory, showing the variety of its applications in the real world, from technology to global warming, politics, and even gambling on the stock market.
This Very Short Introduction looks at the importance accorded to the Bible by different communities and cultures and attempts to explain why it has generated such a rich variety of uses and interpretations. It explores how the Bible was written, the development of the canon, the role of Biblical criticism, the appropriation of the Bible in high and popular culture, and its use for political ends.
From the schools of ancient times to the present day, Gary Thomas looks at how and why education evolved as it has. By exploring some of the big questions, he examines the ways in which schools work, considers the differences around the world, and concludes by considering the future of education worldwide.
Philip Mladenov examines the nature and variety of life in the oceans, and its importance to us and to the planet. He considers the human impact on these complex ecosystems, through overfishing, pollution, and climate change, and the actions needed to establish a more sustainable relationship, to protect them for future generations.
This book explores the mathematical field of topology, giving a sense of the visual elements of the field, as well as the formal definition of continuity. Considering some of the eye-opening examples that led mathematicians to study topology, it pays homage to the historical people, problems, and surprises that propelled the growth of the field.
Foucault is one of those rare philosophers who has become a cult figure. From aesthetics to the penal system; from madness and civilisation to avant-garde literature, he rejected old models of thinking and replaced them with versions that are still debated today. This book introduces and explores aspects of his life, work, and thought.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) represents the social accountability a company holds for society. This Very Short Introductions looks at how and why it developed, how it is implemented in practice, and the benefits and controversies it raises for companies, governments, and society worldwide.
The concept of law lies at the heart of our social and political life, shaping the character of our community and underlying issues from racism and abortion to human rights and international war. The revised edition of this Very Short Introduction examines the central questions about law's relation to justice, morality, and democracy.
Organization happens in the act of working with others to accomplish a desired future state. It can happen through intentionally designed activity, spontaneous improvisation, or some combination of the two, but it always requires coordinated effort. This Very Short Introduction provides a lively and thought provoking introduction to the topic.
Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Camus were some of the most important existentialist thinkers. This book provides an account of the existentialist movement, and of the themes of individuality, free will, and personal responsibility which make it a 'philosophy as a way of life'.
By the time the First World War ended in 1918, eight million people had died in what had been perhaps the most apocalyptic episode the world had known. This Very Short Introduction provides a concise and insightful history of 'the Great War', focusing on why it happened, how it was fought, and why it had the consequences it did.
Many people regard Hegel's work as obscure and extremely difficult, yet his importance and influence are universally acknowledged. Peter Singer eliminates any excuse for remaining ignorant of the outlines of Hegel's philosophy by providing a broad discussion of his ideas and an account of his major works.
Philosophy of physics is concerned with the deepest theories of modern physics - quantum theory, our theories of space, time and symmetry, and thermal physics - and their strange, even bizarre conceptual implications. This book explores the core topics in philosophy of physics, and discusses their relevance for both scientists and philosophers.
Nicholas Cook explores the nature of music, how we think about it, its social and cultural dimensions, and its history. He discusses the many musical traditions across the world and the interactions between them. He also considers performance, how composers create music, and the position of music in today's globalized society.
In its heyday in the late 1990s, neoliberalism emerged as the world's dominant economic paradigm. Since then the global financial crash of 2008 and the recent emergence of more nationalist ideologies have challenged neoliberal assumptions and systems. This book examines the origins, core claims, and global variations of neoliberalism.
In this authoritative Very Short Introduction to The Periodic Table, Eric Scerri presents a modern and fresh exploration of this fundamental topic in the physical sciences, considering the deeper implications of the arrangements of the table to atomic physics and quantum mechanics.
How ought we to live? What really exists? How do we know? Edward Craig discusses some of the key questions philosophy engages with. He explores important themes in ethics, knowledge, and the self, alongside a new chapter for this edition on free will, discussing determinism and indeterminism in the context of Descartes and Hegel's work.
For many, Russia's political influence far exceeds its weight in the global economy. Richard Connolly demonstrates that in fact Russia's economy affords it global power, and explores how its socialist past has shaped its economic system into a unique blend of state and market.
Is philosophy a unique discipline, or are its methods more like those of other sciences than many philosophers think? Timothy Williamson explains clearly and concisely how contemporary philosophers think and work, and reflects on their powers and limitations.
A bilingual, multicultural, and multinational nation, Canada borders the United States, reaches into the Arctic, and stretches across six time zones. Drawing on Canadian history, politics, and literature, Donald Wright explores the Canadian story and identity, from the arrival of the first Indigenous peoples to contemporary climate politics.
Ecology is the science of how organisms interact with each other and with their environment to form communities and ecosystems. This book explains the principles of ecological thinking, how ecology affects our everyday lives, and how it guides environmental policy, especially in the light of current and future environmental challenges.
Connected by their veneration of the One God proclaimed by Abraham, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share much beyond their origins in the ancient Israel of the Old Testament. This Very Short Introduction explores the intertwined histories of these monotheistic religions, from the emergence of Christianity and Islam to the violence of the Crusades and the cultural exchanges of al-Andalus.
This book explores the nature of scepticism, asking when it is legitimate, for example as the driver of new ideas, and when it is problematic. It also tackles how scepticism is related to contemporary social and political phenomena, such as fake news, and examines a radical form of scepticism which maintains that knowledge is impossible.
Energy supply is foundational to modern society, but damaging to the environment. This book takes a 'systems view', from extraction of primary fuel, through conversion to usable energy, and transportation to point of use. It explores initiatives to generate electricity in an environmentally benign manner, and decarbonise the supply of energy.
William Doyle chronicles the unfolding events of the French Revolution, from the quarrels of the first revolutionaries with the king, to the Terror, to the rise of Napoleon. Considering how and why the revolution destroyed the age-old cultural, institutional, and social structures in France, Doyle also explores its lasting effects today.